I’d like to share an often-overlooked fact: Right now, sitting in your inbox, there are probably hundreds (though perhaps less if you keep your email organized) of subject matter experts on what your competitors are doing.
And not just your competitors. Other marketers with your job title in similar industries, too. These SMEs know all of this because they’re talking to them daily, listening to their biggest challenges and the solutions that have made all the difference. If they’re good at what they do, they’re also challenging marketers like you with commercial insights that are shaping marketing as a whole.
Who are these SMEs, you ask? Simple: It’s salespeople.
I’m sure you’re well aware that your sales team is a wealth of knowledge of what your customers want—but have you thought about asking the salesperson who finally got a 15-minute conversation on your calendar who else they’ve been talking to, or what solutions similar companies have found? Maybe you’ll get an answer followed by a pitch, but the fact remains: Salespeople reaching out to you are talking to marketers like you every day, and they understand a large landscape of challenges you’re probably facing, too. They have more exposure to your peers in the span of a month than many of you will get over the course of a year.
Fortunately, you have a sales-educated marketing SME at your disposal right now, so rather than filtering through the hundreds of messages in your inbox, I’ll share four quick themes that many of your marketing peers are currently talking about.
What Questions Are Keeping CMOs up at Night?
Last week, I sat down with marketing leaders from companies like HP, Intuit, and Dow at the CMO Summit in Denver, Colorado. Over the course of the two days, several thematic questions came up.
1. Is My Messaging On-Brand?
While all marketing leaders undoubtedly want to answer yes, I found—with very few exceptions—most had to shake their head with a somber no. And it’s no surprise, without effective (or even basic) content governance, it’s impossible to determine whether or not your marketing content is ultimately on-brand or on-message with the overarching themes your team is trying to communicate.
With thousands of existing content and brand pieces already distributed through various digital and internal channels, the thought of a brand and content audit is surprisingly daunting. However, as marketers, it is a matter of critical concern as a recent SiriusDecisions survey indicates that 65% of content is wasted because it either can’t be found when needed or is old, off-message, or otherwise unusable.
2. Are My Teams Aligned?
Accenture recently reported that four in five marketers are unclear on content objectives and that stat hits home. Time and time again, I hear that teams are so siloed in their individual lanes that they very rarely have cross-team visibility into what other marketing teams are prioritizing, working on, or where there is overlap in their larger team initiatives.
Many teams will work together on point tools or collaborate on spreadsheets, but this typically reinforces the silos and eliminates visibility, both for teams and leaders. Unfortunately, most marketing organizations have inadvertently sacrificed effectiveness for efficiency—in other words, just creating more content, rather than effective content.
3. Is Everyone on My Team Working toward Strategic Goals?
The short answer: probably not.
As most marketing teams have grown out of a response to company or channel growth, they naturally become reactive to the channels or teams they are supporting. There is a critical tipping point when teams become so inundated with content requests that even the most basic levels of strategy get thrown out the window (or sacrificed on the altar) for the sake of meeting basic content demand. And, of course, the unintended consequence of this is a disjointed customer experience littered with ad-hod, unaligned content pieces.
4. Should I Care about Content Governance?
Of course, the answer is often yes, but I’d like to challenge whether or not simply caring about content governance results in the necessary actions to maintain content governance.
Considering the need to address the three prior questions, I’ve found that very few marketing leaders have the technological ability—let alone the bandwidth—to address the issues of content governance. However, after speaking with hundreds of marketing leaders, I constantly see the need for this to be the top priority. Lack of content governance is often the underlying issues causing many of the other headaches of leading a marketing team. When your team asks for an editorial calendar tool, they’re really saying they don’t have insight into what content is going out when, which probably means that strategic context is also a blind spot.
Answering the Important Questions (Which Is All of Them)
At the core of these issues is one unaddressed cause: a poorly functioning content operation. Marketing leaders largely have a strategy—it’s in the implementation of that strategy where issues arise. Teams become siloed, the strategy isn’t documented, and content lacks impact (or is only being assessed through vanity metrics like traffic).
In the midst of all of this, ad hoc content reigns supreme and everything feels too rushed to be able to address the process behind which content is being made. That process, the tools used to help, and the people who do it all make up the content operation that’s responsible for playing out a perfectly-tuned content strategy.
In a perfect world, marketing leaders know the answer to all of these questions because content is being created in a single source of truth platform that measures and tracks content’s alignment to strategy. With these insights, marketers can make better decisions about what to repurpose, so they’re not just stuck in a revolving door of creating more and more content with less and less impact.
With 65% of content wasted, it’s no surprise that marketing leaders are stressing out about the above questions—but they’re really a symptom of the process-oriented problem: lacking content operations. Learn more about how to implement a better content operation with The Definitive Guide to Building a Content Operation.