What’s the future of content? It’s a question that my friend Lee Odden (author of “Optimize“) has recently been asking on his blog. CMI has also been digging into this important area, both as a content marketing agency and from a hype and positioning perspective. So critical is the changing nature of the content marketing industry, that we have officially altered our editorial strategy because of it.
Now, think about the dynamics of our industry in terms of content creation:
- Epic content is an asset. One story can be developed into multiple content assets, which can generate traffic and interest for years, if not decades. Most importantly, great content is the main driver for developing an audience — the greatest asset of all.
- Regardless of what the economy does, or how your overall marketing spend changes, great content rises to the top and can continue to fuel your business.
- Once an audience is created, an organization can generate cash from that content by selling products and services directly, or by selling access to its audience (in the form of advertising, sponsorship, or affiliate sales).
So think about it this way: What if our primary goal in marketing is now to own content niches online; to build out our content assets to grow and maintain our audiences and subscribers?
As Robert Rose says, “In many businesses (especially in B2B), the marketing department is an order-taking, tactical function that runs on the hamster-wheel of demand generation, trying to keep up with “client” orders for new collateral, press releases, case studies and, at times, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).” If our new call to arms is around creating and growing owned audiences, it’s clear that our marketing skill sets may be, well, a bit out of date.
The new roles of content marketing
While there is no perfect structure for a marketing organization, it’s apparent that we are starting to see marketing departments transform themselves into publishing organizations. And with that transformation comes a shift in the key business roles that marketers must now fill. Don’t think of the list below as new job titles, per se, but rather as the core competencies that need to be accounted for across the enterprise:
Chief Content Officer
This is your content ambassador, also known as an organization’s chief storyteller. This person should be responsible for setting the overall editorial/content marketing mission statement and integrating that throughout the enterprise. As every silo (PR, email, social, search, etc.) starts to create and curate content, it is the CCO’s responsibility to make sure that the stories remain consistent and make sense to the audience(s). The CCO must also continually receive feedback from all other players so that the mission statement continues to reflect your organization’s goals and metrics for success.
Half storyteller and half project manager, the managing editor executes the content plan on behalf of the CCO. Whereas the CCO focuses on strategy, the managing editor’s job is all execution, working with the roles below to make the stories come alive (including tone, style guides, and content scheduling).
Chief Listening Officer
The role of the CLO will be to function as “air-traffic control” for social media and your other content channels. This person should be there to listen to the groups, maintain the conversation, and to route (and/or notify) the appropriate team members who can engage in appropriate conversations (customer service, sales, marketing, etc.). For the content marketing process, this function should serve as the gravitational center of your “listening posts, which your organization will need to establish so that you can always be ready to react and adapt to subscribers’ evolving needs. Hopefully, as your content starts to create reactions among your communities, the CLO can then route important feedback to the CCO, so that the chief storyteller can modify the content plan on an ongoing basis.
Director of Audience
This person should be charged with monitoring your audience/buyer personas, making sure all content creators are intimately familiar with their characteristics, their passion triggers, and what actions you want them to take. The Director of Audience should also be responsible for building subscription assets (direct mail lists, email lists, social media subscriptions) that can grow and be segmented as your content mission matures and expands.
This person’s role is the make the content work better for the organization. That means taking the current assets and optimizing those assets for increased engagement. This includes tweaking and monitoring blog post titles, working on image enhancement to optimize sharing and working directly with the channel master to figure out what kind of content resonates best in a particular channel.
HR for Marketing
As every employee and stakeholder becomes a more integral part of the marketing process, it will be increasingly necessary for marketing to work closely with human resources to make sure that employees understand their roles in the marketing process and to help your organization leverage your employees’ audiences without creating conflicts or confusion.
Wherever your content is headed (social media, email, mobile, print, in-person, etc.), the channel master will be responsible for getting the most out of each channel. What works best on SlideShare? When should we send our emails, and how frequently? What’s the appropriate ratio of owned vs. curated content your business should distribute on Twitter? Who is keeping track of mobile strategy and execution? Your team will look to the Channel Master for these, and other, answers.
As marketing and information technology continue to merge, there will be a need for at least one (maybe more) individual whose sole purpose is to leverage the proper use of these technologies into the content marketing process. The person in this role will be responsible for staying on top of these ever-increasing changes as they relate to the storytelling process — from calendaring and approvals to marketing automation, freelancer integration, and emerging technologies.
The role formerly known as media relations will evolve into that of a manager of influencers. This person’s responsibilities should include developing your “hit list” of influencers, maintaining direct relationships with them, and integrating them into your marketing process in the most impactful ways.
Freelancer and Agency Relations
As content demands continue to evolve (and increase), your organization’s reliance on freelance talent and other external content vendors will grow as well. Organizations will need to cultivate their own “expert” content teams and networks, and it will be this person’s job to negotiate rates and responsibilities so that all members of your team are united in their work on behalf of your marketing program.
In marketing’s evolution, one person will need to be responsible for making sure your team receives ongoing training and education. I’ve personally been involved with education programs from Dell, SAP, and Ernst & Young, and have observed how critically important they are to the success of the enterprise.
ROO (Return-on-Objective) Chief
This person will be responsible for ensuring that there is an ongoing return on marketing objectives, and for communicating to all teams why your business is developing content assets in the first place.
Yes, we are selling products and services, but the way in which we do that is changing faster than we ever anticipated. This means focusing on content as an asset — which, in turn, means that our marketing departments will continue to evolve. Putting the above roles in place now will help make sure the rest of your enterprise is prepared to evolve right along with them.
What additional roles are you seeing emerge on the content marketing landscape?
For more insight on emerging trends that are impacting the content industry, register now to attend Content Marketing World 2013.
Cover image via Bigstock