The Discontent Over Content Strategies

4 smart content investment strategies for long term success

I’ve been growing and cultivating CMO peer groups for six years. The names have changed as leaders relocate, retire, and redesign careers. Yet one thing has remained constant: their overall discontent (and uncertainty) over the ideal content strategy.

Our six years of surveying 480 CMOs reveals that limited funding continues to hold them back from growing customers and brand reach. Given these limited funds, how much should Marketing invest in content that builds their brand (long-term), versus content that drives (short-term) demand? Should CMOs shift their investment as a company grows? These vigorous debates continue.

Thankfully, CMOs have some useful (and free!) data at their fingertips. The IPA, a research advisory firm based in the UK, provides an annual “Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era” study with some compelling insights. (If you have not yet downloaded your copy of this 43-page study, you can find it here.) If you love details, read the entire study. If you want the summary of findings, jump to page 4.

Here are some balanced content investment strategies that can apply to B2B and B2C marketers alike:

Branding investments matter more than you think.

In the B2B arena, many CEOs are hiring demand generation experts, then labeling them CMOs. Once hired, these CMOs are spending 80% of their time focused on lead generation. This is simply a short-term recipe for long-term failure.

IPA concluded that demand gen obsession leads to “an under-investment in the brand, which can lead to long-term decline.” Instead, they recommend “balancing long-term brand building and short-term activation…Around 60% brand and 40% activation is still the best combination.”

During his recent keynote at the Digital Summit in Washington, DC, LinkedIn’s head of Global Brand Strategy, Jon Lombardo, shared results from one of their client’s their brand/activation experiments.

According to Lombardo, “we helped one client structure and measure a test which pitted a pure lead generation campaign against a 50/50 brand and leads campaign. In the first test campaign, they only saw a .2% conversion rate. In the 50/50 brand and lead generation test, the conversion rate skyrocketed to 1.2%.” The results corroborated IPA’s findings.

Avoid the ageism racket.

I’m about to offend some of my readers: Millennial mania is no more than an economic boon to trainers, consultants, and HR professionals. I boycott every ad, email, and workshop about “marketing to millennials” or “hiring and retaining millennials.” These create chasms, not bridges.

Top marketing leaders are hiring the right people for the job based on cultural and skills match, regardless of age. In my first book, EnergizeGrowth NOW, I wrote extensively about marketing to mindsets, not demographic profiles. Top brands like Hilton and Bozzuto know this well.

LinkedIn’s Lombardo agrees. He encourages teams to create content that appeals to, and positively impacts, audiences of all ages.

I love the way Washington, DC fintech startup, MPower Financing, showcases their people and brand here. Their upbeat, diverse employee portrait is worth a thousand words.

Double down like Disney.

Consider a “blockbuster” versus a daily/weekly/monthly publishing content calendar and strategy. At Disney, for example, they take a very selective approach on which films get funded, averaging 10 or fewer per year. They are masterful at merchandising and franchising. This year, their media and networks division surpassed the $6B mark and reported to have delivered nine of the top 10 biggest domestic box office openings in history.

This strategy is very different than what we’re witnessing with Netflix, which claims to have allocated $8B in original television and films this year. Volume does not always trump value. And this strategy still needs time to prove itself.

B2B companies can build blockbusters, too. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report is touted as the “most highly anticipated slide deck in Silicon Valley.” Additionally, LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketers Guide to LinkedIn is celebrating its sixth year.

Embrace all things mobile and video.

Just walk through any fast-casual restaurant or coffee shop for evidence o how video has replaced traditional forms of learning.

Watch how people use their mobile devices compared to just a year ago. I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people watching videos. (and I wish they would use headsets, because I really don’t want to hear more ambient noise!)

Your content strategies must support worker autonomy and “on demand” consumption. Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb are spearheading this movement. They enable digerati to determine when they want to work and play.

The ever-changing digital landscape need not create discontent. These four approaches will help you meet audiences’ need for high-value, captivating content, and help you invest your limited marketing dollars wisely.

copyright 2018, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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