Can you elevate the value of marketing and transform your organization? The answer is a resounding yes, according to Robert Rose, the chief strategic advisor of the Content Marketing Institute. In a recent Cultivate webinar, he explained how you can initiate change by rethinking the operating model of your marketing team.
The challenge: marketing as we know it is broken
In his presentation, Rose outlined three major challenges that marketing faces today:
First, our customers have less time than ever to conduct research and find solutions to their needs. “We can’t afford to waste one iota of their time,” he cautions. “But we don’t understand their needs and their contextual journeys deeply enough to create the kinds of experiences they need.”
Too often, he explains, we tend to “ship the org chart.” In other words, we tend to communicate with our customers and prospects based on how we’re organized as a business. To be successful, we must organize our business – and our communications – around the ways in which our target audience wants to find answers to their needs.
Second, trust is at an all-time low. To persuade prospects to consider our offerings, we must gain their trust early in the buyer’s journey by providing them with significant value – long before they’re ready to make a purchase. Trust has become a differentiator for successful marketers and organizations, Rose emphasizes.
Finally, creating customer experiences has become democratized. Anyone can do it, but few can do it well.
We’re not just talking about just cataloging how customers currently engage with your company and brand. Rather, your goal ought to be to design an exceptional experience that will cause your customers to tell their peers and even social network about how great it was – an experience that they will want to repeat readily.
To gain a competitive advantage and attract our ideal prospects, we must become exceptionally good at creating amazing customer experiences.
As many marketers have discovered, scaling an existing marketing model is incredibly hard to do because you quickly run into time, resource and manpower constraints, Rose points out. What’s needed is a different operating model, one that treats audiences and content as scalable, measurable business assets.
Seen through this lens, content can become a potent force for business disruption and a powerful growth multiplier for your organization. It does this by building trust with prospective customers at the beginning of the relationship, not just before the point of sale.
“Your goal is to treat audiences as you would customers. For most companies, that’s revolutionary,” he explains.
But to capitalize upon this opportunity, we must change our culture and our operating model. He outlined four ways to rethink how we approach marketing and content:
The player model: In this model, content marketing acts as a contributor to demand generation, product marketing and other business communications strategies. It’s largely a reactive role, responding to the marketing needs of each business unit. Many organizations begin content marketing with this model.
With the right vision, marketing teams can move into more of a proactive role, envisioning a larger role for content to support the buyer’s journey, setting standards for good content and measuring its value against key business objectives.
The performer model: Companies that adopt this organizational model treat content marketing as a center of excellence. It’s focused on building addressable audiences through owned media platforms, such as resource centers and email. The marketing team is responsible for providing the strategy, management, content and increasing the business value of those platforms.
The processor model: In this model, the marketing team is responsible for developing an integrated, centralized content marketing strategy. Content creation and distribution are carried out by decentralized practitioners throughout the organization, following governance, standards, training and best practices developed by the core marketing team.
The platform model: In this operating model, content marketing is treated as an integrated and fully functional business unit within the organization. The marketing team is responsible for managing all aspects of corporate publications and media platforms. It may operate autonomously but provides strategic value by helping the brand to understand and reach its target audience.
How to transform your marketing model
Where should marketing teams start on their journey to rethink marketing? Instead of trying to scale the existing marketing team and operations, Rose recommends stepping back and identifying your existing resources.
“What do you have the ability to change? Look for efficiencies you can gain and operations you can streamline. Then use the time you save as a beachhead to start developing your new operating model,” he suggests.
Above all, Rose emphasizes that disruptive change always begins with one rebel.
“Marketers create markets where none existed before. Rebels make change and disruption. Marketing rebels change markets. Why not you?”