By Michele Linn published September 8, 2014

6 Keys to Shifting an Enterprise to a Content Marketing Mindset

open pocket watch imageHow do you think content marketing will change — and what do you need to know to approach your job more successfully?

This question was recently posed to 27 marketing leaders during a series of in-depth interviews conducted by CMI, and a few key themes emerged. For example, we found many content marketers want to improve their editorial processes and centralize their content planning efforts; others took this a step further and were looking to integrate their editorial and demand generation processes so the content they publish can drive better business results.

At the crux of all of these desires for change is a fundamental need to transform an organization’s culture — a challenging prospect for enterprises to achieve, given that silos and strong histories often hold sway. 


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In Part 2 of our CMI Executive Research series, we explored the best ways for businesses to shift to a content marketing mindset. Given how closely this is tied to transforming the culture of an organization, as a whole, it’s not something that happens easily or quickly — especially in large organizations.

Check out the full report on our findings, below (you can also download the PDF by selecting Save via the SlideShare link). You can also read the first part of our series, How Enterprises Structure, Scale, and Spend on Content.

But for a quick snapshot, here are six of the key insights and recommendations I took away from our conversations with marketing leaders at the inaugural CMI Executive Forum.

1. Get buy-in

Getting buy-in is a recurring theme at CMI, as we often talk about the importance of executive support. While this is obviously critical to the success of a content marketing plan, it’s equally as important to get buy-in from sales, your other team members, and anyone else who might have a role to play in the content marketing process (think: subject matter experts, IT, etc.).

Not surprisingly, the principles of content marketing may be exactly what marketing leaders can use to get buy in. Ask yourself: “Who needs to buy in, and what does each person care about?” Market your content marketing efforts internally, with a dedicated focus on how this transformation will positively impact the core teams’ top priorities.

In short, figure out what content effectiveness would look like from management’s perspective, and tailor your presentations and communications to focus on that. (Our full report provides some additional ideas on how to get sales to actually use the content you create.)

2. Have collaborative workshops

If your organization needs to “raze the silos” and get everyone on the same page, there is no better approach than in-person workshops. As one marketing leader explains, the outcome of these workshops should be a decision on which campaigns and initiatives the team should be working on. Instead of having everyone go out and do their own things, workshops allow team members to collaboratively determine these priorities in person, which gives everyone a sense of ownership and clarifies the themes that should be used consistently across the organization.

3. Align goals across your organization

When executed successfully, content marketing touches many departments across an organization. While workshops on the discipline can help teach basic concepts, to truly get all teams working toward the same content marketing goals, you need to make sure everyone is being recognized and/or rewarded based on the same outcomes. For example, you may have one team focused on using content to drive website traffic and another team focused on content that directly leads to sales. This strategic conflict impacts content creation and could mean that instead of meeting both goals, you may not meet either one. As a general rule, it’s best if organizations align team metrics with enterprise-wide budgets and priorities.

4. Create “pockets” of success

Some marketing leaders who don’t yet have buy-in or who are still trying to expand content marketing within their organization are finding success by creating a “pocket.” This is a way to start to experiment with content marketing, show early successes to executives as proof of the potential this discipline has, and then apply what you’ve learned as you ramp up content marketing efforts within the organization. Without sounding trite, it’s often more useful to ask for forgiveness instead of permission, and these “pockets” can help you move content marketing forward even if you haven’t been able to get full buy-in in advance.

5. Consider agile marketing techniques

Agile marketing is a trend in which small teams work closely together to create marketing programs that go through many tests and iterations on the road to finding the plan that works best. By learning and adapting quickly after each test project, agile marketers are able to continually improve their outputs. It’s an approach that is starting to gain favor among marketing leaders: As one participant at our CMI Executive Forum explained:

I think agile marketing is one of the keys to making the transition from marketing — changing the culture to be a more accountable one that really is focused on results and outcomes, and not just lists of deliverables that someone asks them for.

6. Get comfortable with discomfort

Marketers, by nature, are positive and ambitious and (sometimes) structured; yet, content marketing can be a messy, challenging, and unpredictable endeavor, at times. As backwards as this may sound, embracing failure and uncertainty can be an attribute of a strong leader. People are attracted to those who are honest and human, so if you want to get your team behind you, be decisive and confident, but be open to sharing failed experiments, as well. In turn, your team will be more likely to experiment.

Which of these approaches has worked for you — or, do you have others that you can share? Let us know in the comments.

View the full report to get additional ideas on how to transform your organization. And, for even more executive-level insights, subscribe to CCO magazine.

Cover image by MeganY via pixabay.com

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

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