As it turns out, marketers say they know what makes content a success.
Yet, most aren’t doing it, and they don’t really know why.
Isn’t that a kick in the head?
Opal and Forrester Research recently teamed up to conduct a study on marketing operations.
TL;DR takeaway: Marketing is not aligned operationally within their companies.
Shocked? We weren’t either. Marketing operations, content workflow, planning, and execution aren’t well understood.
So what the heck are you supposed to do with that knowledge?
Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain, or keep reading his thoughts:
Opal, a provider of marketing planning and creation software, and Forrester, an industry analyst and consulting firm, released the study (registration required) about marketing’s operational alignment, specifically as it pertains to content and collaboration.
It nicely presents the key takeaways from interviews with over 500 marketers this summer. Namely, only 1% of marketers say their organization’s content planning is seamless. However, 89% believe that planning, creating, and calendaring are necessary for content to succeed.
Marketers don’t see the real reason for misalignment
What creates the gap between marketers knowing what needs to be done and doing it?
Well, 77% of marketers say organizational silos make aligning on a strategy difficult.
What’s the solution?
Consider this finding while being conscious that it was posed by Opal. Eighty-seven percent say their organizations need better hardware and software to achieve alignment – new collaborative technology featuring content planning, calendaring, visualization, omnichannel content publishing and distribution, AI capabilities, and customizable workflows.
TL;DR takeaway: Marketers need effective operations.
Robert agrees with the Opal-Forrester study’s findings. “If you ask marketers what they need, most will say new tools to help,” he says.
However, based on his experience with clients, Robert says no technology can solve the absence of a process. “Selecting a tool before you know what it is you’re trying to scale and optimize is a little like my grandpa would say, ‘Selecting a brand of chainsaw to fix a flat tire,’” he says.
To its credit, the research also finds that 77% of marketers say too many subgroups within marketing make it difficult to align on one content strategy.
Misalignment is the wrong word
And the No. 1 response to their biggest challenge from the lack of visibility between content planning and content execution? Customer experience, marketing channels, and touchpoints cannot align in a cohesive strategy.
That’s a problem. The wonderful business thinker W. Edwards Deming once famously said, “If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
But here’s the thing. He didn’t mean you, the person, don’t know what you’re doing. He meant you, the institution, don’t know what it’s doing.
If you create customer experiences as an integrated strategy, you’re collaborating as a team or even multiple teams. So, a process for planning, prioritizing, and strategically creating is critical.
While Robert agrees with those observations, he differs in the research’s conclusion. “I believe it uses “alignment” too casually,” he says. “I hear a lot of businesses echo the sentiment – they need alignment in their operations or are misaligned in their marketing.
“My reply is ‘Aligned or misaligned to what? What don’t you agree on? What isn’t represented as a straight line,” Robert explains.
He prefers “orchestration” over “alignment.”
A siloed marketing team leader can align perfectly with their counterpart in sales, demand gen, or even the C-suite. But they don’t necessarily agree on what content should be planned and prioritized. They are aligned on that disagreement.
But the better scenario involves orchestrating (or coordinating, designing, governing – whichever verb you like better.) If you don’t work together in a cohesive way, the music won’t work. With so many people contributing across a content planning and prioritization process, you must orchestrate it. To get to the great music – the great content – you must define the parts to be played before anyone picks up an instrument.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute