As quasi-social scientists, effective marketers are trained to understand their target audience's motivations and to use that understanding to offer said audience a compelling reason to perform a specific action. "Want the solution to your problem? Read this, watch that and click here." The most effective marketers have such a deep understanding of these variables that they can use those skills to create motivations their audience didn't even know they had (exhibit A, the Apple Watch). These invaluable skills are almost universally projected outwardly toward the intended objective. But how many of you have ever used those skills inwardly toward yourselves and your team? How many of you have ever even pondered what it is that motivates you? Ask yourself this question, "when you think about your in-house agency, who brings you your work?" I'm asking who initiates a job and tells you what they want and when they need it? I'm certain that for many of you, the answer is someone with some form of a sales function. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but when you consider the Content Evolution, isn't it time to look beyond that finely weathered model and reimagine the role your team plays in delivering the customer's desired experiences? I mean, don't we all want to move beyond simply being order takers and tactical implementers? It's time to begin demonstrating that in a era when customers are demanding a more meaningful relationship with the people they do business with, in-house agencies can have much more to offer than waiting around for the next job start.
So when we consider this new reality, how can you begin to realign your team to play a more proactive, more impactful role in the care and management of your customer's relationship? To be clear, when I refer to the process of effectively aligning your team, I'm not talking about specific job functions. I will get into more specifics on those issues in the following two posts. Before you can begin to imagine specific new roles you might need to fill, you first have to imagine the more significant realignment--that of performing the role of stewards of the customer relationship. This is the new battleground within organizations hoping to be a little more like Amazon or Apple and a lot less like Sears or Radio Shack. And it doesn't matter if you're a B2B or B2C in-house agency, the debate is still centered on the concept of Content as the core element of the customer relationship vs. marketing as a tool of the sales process.
Agency model versus Broadcast Network model
Moving from a tactical role into this more strategic one begins with a clear vision and mission. That means having a thorough understanding of your company's business objectives and developing the plan to offer meaningful content that engages your audience toward that objective. Typically, an in-house agency's mission is structured like a good soldier, always ready to serve. A content-driven organization's mission should be structured more like a general: know your objectives and organize an army around those goals. The idealized outcome should produce an engaged audience that anticipates your content, shares it with others and even volunteers to provide you with some of their own. Another way to look at it is to compare how a broadcast network approaches its audience versus an advertiser. One invites audiences to form a lasting relationship with its programs while the other is an unwanted intrusion into that relationship. (Remember the time before DVR, fast-forward and on-demand programs? Neither do I.) So creating this master content plan is the foundational constitution for building the new model of a modern content organization.
Only once you have achieved full corporate buy-in of the mission for a content organization can you begin to think about building the team, creating the workflow plan and the "programming" schedule to begin providing your customers with the content they want. Sounds easy, right? Listen, this is not a pain-free transition. Adapting to a new environment is difficult, but not as difficult as the alternative to adaptation: extinction.
This is the third of a series of posts on Content we are featuring in 2015. You can view related posts here. Next up is Staffing Your Content Organization--Critical roles necessary to create and deliver meaningful content.
If this is a topic you and your team is struggling with, Cella is available to provide on-site training for you and your team.