Why are C-suites Afraid to Update their Marketing Strategy?

Most C-suite executives are familiar with the terms Online Presence/Brand, Search Engine Optimization/Marketing (SEO or SEM), and Content Marketing. They may not be intimate with the specific tactics employed under these headings, but they have no doubt read of their importance and want them included in the corporate marketing strategy. However, once the executives learn more about the lengthy process and gradual build on return, they sometimes shy away.

That’s because many company executives are like shareholders of public companies, they’re thirsty for quick gain. They expect ROI (totally understandable) and they want it now (not so much). I understand their concern. They are the ones who have to authorize the marketing budget, and they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the corporation’s financial health. What they fail to realize is that the business—consumer dynamic has changed and that sacrificing the long game for a short gain can be fatal.Short-term promotions with the goal of producing immediate sales remain an integral part of a comprehensive campaign, but consumers have greater expectations now. They want much more information: background about products, services and the people delivering them. Buyers expect a range of anecdotal information as well, so a Google search is a prerequisite to any significant purchase. What type of people work for your company, are there shared values or common interests? What are others saying about your company and what it offers? The buying/selling process has always been built on relationships; people tend to buy from people they like or have some affinity with. The difference now is that virtual relationship can form without your knowledge, so it is imperative that organizations have all the “touch points” and messaging necessary to quickly establish a friendly, open and positive relationship.

This represents a fundamental shift in marketing strategy. Relationships have always been a cornerstone, but it used to be the corporations determining how that relationship developed by spoon-feeding a specific formula to the market. The Internet has not only provided new tools and accessibility — it has truly emancipated the consumer. Today any consumer with an Internet connection can research, query, comment, opine, refer, start a dialogue… each consumer has a discernible voice as part of the buying collective. And corporations are expected to hear that voice and respond, they are expected to be involved in the digital conversation.

Corporate mission and vision statements alone no longer cut it. Your audience doesn’t want to listen to a monologue, nor are they interested in corporate-speak. They want the same thing you expect from your friends: honesty, reliability, accessibility, information — essentially you should be there when they need them and ready to say the fight thing at the right time. Using SEO with a comprehensive content marketing strategy will establish an online presence to offer that kind of virtual support. It is a very effective means of reaching out to potential clients, and being receptive to those who reach out to you; and has become a requirement for building sustainable growth. Rather than a quick fix, this is an ongoing strategy that takes several months to ramp up, but rewards you with long-term and ongoing results.

The whole point to investing in marketing is to attain growth: stronger brand, greater market share, higher sales, larger profit. Executives naturally favour limited risk with quick return and those who haven’t realized the marketing dynamic shift may not appreciate the need to satisfy the public’s demand for engagement. Sustainable growth requires a foundation. That foundation is built on relationships which should now include an active (and continuously evolving) network of communication points.

5 Reasons Why You Need a Content Marketing Strategy

The term Content Marketing is relatively new, but the concept has been around since the dawn of commerce. Content marketing is simply using information strategically to communicate with your market. What has changed since the first messaging merchants is the complexity and scope of that communication and its delivery. Here are five reasons why you should be taking a structured approach to your content marketing.

Notepad with words content marketing concept and glasses
credit: getty images/ designer491

1. Myriad Touchpoints
The ad guys in Mad Men had it comparatively easy; they could focus on a killer ad campaign knowing that a high percentage of their market would absorb their newspaper, TV and radio ads. Since the halcyon days when a campaign brainstorming required a brain-numbing amount of whisky, the Internet has given the information and communication world a whole new environment. This new landscape is vast, cluttered and omnipresent.

A minority of small companies are treating their websites as strategic communication hubs (unfortunately most are still virtual brochures with a link to their dormant Facebook page). And even if you are paying attention to your website, simply keeping it up-to-date isn’t sufficient. Blogs, online communities, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+… there are myriad touchpoints where your existing and potential market could connect with you. A strategic content marketing plan will determine which are best for your company and what needs to be done to properly support them.

2. Consumers Want More Info
The Internet has empowered consumers like never before. They now expect to easily find online all required info about any product or service, as well as reviews, user comments, instructions, how-to videos… in essence they want it all and they want it now. A strategic plan helps you to determine how you can most effectively provide that information in a compelling way.

Early advertising guru David Ogilvy understood the importance of content marketing. He maintained that “(t)he more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.” Ogilvy helped the industry to appreciate the value of understanding your market and providing the right information in an appropriate manner. And even in those simpler times, this Mad Man realized that “Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image.” The fact that the communications and marketing world has become all the more complex underlines the importance of Ogilvy’s insight.

3.Open Lines of Communication
In addition to providing you with countless ways to connect with your market, social media and blogs also enable a two-way communication. This may seem daunting but it can be an incredible opportunity. A dialogue with consumers is a direct means to learn from your market and gather valuable information.

Ensure that the bulk of information about your organization online is under corporate stewardship.

4. Your Brand is Linked to Your Content
While you are putting good content out there, it is important to also listen to what is being said about you. Scanning the web for mentions and responding swiftly and appropriately has become an important aspect of brand stewardship. Whether you are thanking someone for kind words or a helpful suggestion, or addressing a misperception or mistake; dealing with it publicly and honestly helps you earn loyalty.

Essentially, it all reflects on you (or your organization if you really don’t want to take this personally). I believe that a company’s brand is now formed as much by the unofficial and/or unpaid content online as it is by the paid media and carefully crafted PR. Online, everyone hears you scream — the Internet hears everything said about your company and saves it for anyone to read. Your brand is living 24/7 online and you are probably unaware as to how it’s doing.

5. Much of the Content Online is Crap
This proliferation of information on the Internet has bred a lot of poorly researched, badly written and pathetically self-serving crap. (Yes, yes, there is also a ton of really good content, but be honest, when you research a purchase online, what percentage of the information is both helpful and well-written?)  So users need to sift through the garbage to find what they are looking for. If you’re churning out less than stellar material, you could be doing more harm than good and actually tarnish your brand.

Conversely, if you are actually producing relevant and readable material, you can help to define your brand as trustworthy and a valued online resource. This positioning moves you a whole lot closer to a buying relationship.

Writing compelling content is not easy, heck, just writing good informative content is challenging. With professional guidance, a strategic plan determines what content you should be producing, what you should be writing, what your staff can do, and what professional marketers/writers should create for you, as well as a schedule to make sure it actually happens. And this structured process makes it much easier to deliver good content.

What would you add to my list of reasons to approach content marketing in a professional manner?