Brand Management, Communications, Content Marketing

On globalising content marketing strategies

A piece of conversation I overheard this week:

– “…so if we launch a marketing program to drive market awareness, and we agree that paid, owned and earned media are the 3 pillars of the strategy, we should have these 3 pillars in place whereever in the world we chose to launch the program, shouldn’t we?
– …
– “I mean, if it’s an integrated strategy, you can’t just take one of three pillars out and expect the building to still be in place next time you check, can you? The entire setup of the program has to change from the very outset if it is to run globally. Simply because we do not have budgets in place everywhere.”
– …
– “You tell me: How do I bring a $5 million marketing program to market without any budget?
– …
– “If everything is integrated, which it better be, than you can’t take pieces out without screwing up the whole. If that’s what you want to do, then change the program strategy!”

Tough discussions – and obviously, the message was not really resonating on the other end of the line. But the point is very clear and vital: with global corporations integrating their marketing communications strategies, trying to have a bigger impact through consistency, tight integration of efforts and focus, global planning of resources has more than ever become a key success factor. What works in the US, doesn’t necessarily work in Spain, or Singapore. So if the source communication strategy is being conceived in country A, and generates the right level of response in that market, it still needs a lot of work to have the same impact in countries B and C.

Some time ago I defined content marketing as “delivering the right message, in the right vehicle, to the right audience at the right time, and through the right channels of communications”. Content Marketing is a fastly maturing discipline, potentially touching a company’s brand, marketing and communications strategy at the foundational level.

We recently were introduced to the thinking of research firm Forrester Research on this topic. Their consultants presented a new way of mapping content and messaging to the buyer’s journey. The data – taken from many surveys with business buyers across the globe – shed new light on information consumption patterns within B2B decision making units.

3 data points can be retrieved from the Forrester data (per country, per job role):

1. Which job role is most influential in each of the phases of the buyer’s journey (with phases like information gathering, education, consideration, decision making, purchasing). Key take-away: No single job role has more than 20% of influence per phase of the buyer’s journey. Marketers should target at least 2 to have the desired impact of companies continuing there journey until sending in the purchase order.
2. In each of the phases of the buyer’s journey, where does each job role look to find information relevant to that particular phase? To websites, events, webcasts, magazines et cetera? Key take-away: you need to cover no more than a handful of content sources to guide your target personas through their journey – o, and the mix is different per country.
3. What exactly are they hoping to find in those content sources. This will give you a good idea about which content specifically to put into brochures, whitepapers, video’s, landing pages, animations, calculators et cetera.

If the data is rich enough for the country you’re drilling into, these 3 views combined give you a recipee for impactful content marketing; you know who to target in each of the phases of the buyer’s journey, which media and content vehicles to seed and deploy, and the kind of content to put into each of those assets. This is the perfect foundation for a highly targeted content marketing strategy.

There is much more to content marketing. I recently discovered this great blog by Christine Thompson, who is a consultant with Seattle-based marketing firm Informing Arts, and who is an expert on the topic. She’s working on a “Content Strategy Maturity Model”. This model should enable marketing leaders to link content strategy to the broader realm of business strategy, in order to deliver enough ROI to make a real difference for the enterprise. It’s inspiring stuff, so go check it out.

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