Reigning in the Content Beast: Marketing & Agency Resources Required

May 17, 2018 | Lorraine Stewart

Rumor of an impending threat has worried the kings and queens of today’s marketing diminions for some time. This ever-evolving beast is said to be so demanding, so consuming that even the most well-tuned marketing functions are being forced to confront its influence.

Well fellows, the content marketing beast has arrived and she’s not going anywhere.

The proof is in the numbers; according to PR Media, today’s leading brands plan to invest more than $300 billion annually on content marketing by 2019 – doubling today’s current spend.

Still, the advertising industry champions are grappling to understand the consequences and adapt to a pace where the demands of the content marketing are a pervasive force.

Consider the appetite: Companies are expected to converse with (not just speak to) the millions of diverse consumers who are their target at all points on the path to purchase. Brand content is supposed to be entertaining, informative and value-added, yet not disruptive to the point of annoying. Throw in a complex media delivery landscape that’s continuously fragmenting and you’ve got yourself a behemoth of a challenge.

The magnitude of content creation is captured in the numbers: Brad Jakeman, president of the global beverage group at PepsiCo, in a recent interview with Ad Age:

“It was once sufficient for us to produce four pieces of content and spend $1 million on each piece of film. Now, that four pieces has turned into 4,000 and a year has turned into 8 days or 8 hours.”

Question we see from our clients C-suite:  What are the right resources we should invest in to handle today’s fast-paced, fragmented, data-rich marketing universe?

The answer is the subject of debate; quite few brave knights have volunteered to lead the battle. Each has its merits.

The Content Contenders:

  1. Specialized Content Marketing Agencies. Pros: Highly focused, skilled at fluid, iterative creative and adept at keeping pace with the multi-channel landscape. Cons: Adding another agency to the roster poses its integration challenges and requires cost management. Without orchestrated leadership and process, external agencies can start to operate in silos.
  2. In-House Agencies: Close at hand and a presumed extension of the brand voice, investing in in-house resources seem like an appealing way to handle today’s volume of messaging. But to develop the best work, companies need to commit time and money to woo top industry talent and keep current talent motivated, never stale. High volume production facilities and smoothly operating in-house agencies come with a price.
  3. The AOR: Today’s smartest creative agencies are positioning themselves for the content challenge by beefing up their technology and media buying credentials. However, if the right systems are not put in place for iterative creative and efficient versioning, agencies fees can rack up fast.
  4. PR Firms: Edelman’s John Clinton, “A key success factor [in content marketing] is the ability to develop compelling stories that drive word-of-mouth… PR firms have an edge because they have always had to earn attention, while ad agencies have bought attention.” Collaboration is required to keep messaging consistent with paid media.
  5. Media Companies: Some media companies see content production as a natural extension of their channel-specific expertise. But brands should approach this new territory with caution.

Content marketing cuts across all disciplines and demands smart planning and orchestration, grounded in the common denominator of a smart brand strategy. So, as industry experts in advertising agency sourcing based on organizational cultural fit and compatibility – what do ROJEK consultants have to say about designing the content marketing dream team?

To architect the perfect formula of partners and resources, marketing leaders should consider the roles involved in designing a thriving content marketing program – then audit their resources to understand who can best deliver on what role, with what value proposition; Designing the network to meet the need of internal stakeholders and business unit leaders is key to success.

Roundtable Roles to Consider:

Head of the Knight’s Watch (Strategy): This big-picture thinking is critical to a brand’s success. This resource should be responsible for setting and clarifying what a brand stands for and to whom, as well as the “big ideas” with legs to extend ideas to earned/paid media.

Wizard (Original content Production/Versioning): According to Curata research the number one concern of content marketers is the ability to create enough content. These creative geniuses should be comfortable creating content on every level of the content 

pyramid (see below).

 The Spy (Content Curation): No need to do all the work yourself when you’ve got a trusty spy who can curate and repurpose the best of UGC/PR to your advantage. 

 

 Jester (Real-time listening/reactions): One-way communication is the 

fastest way to kill a content marketing program. Brands need a resource that’s adept at social listening or customer feedback and respond in ways that’s authentic and clever — yet within predetermined brand parameters.

The Sage (Data collectors & crunchers): Bringing wisdom and foresight to the table – the sage should be adept at analyzing the rich data available across today’s platforms, making sense of it in a way that can be used to fine-tune strategy.

 

With the right talent, investment and cultural compatibility, many of these roles can be fulfilled by a single resource like an impressive in-house agency team or fabulous AOR. However, the multiple-agency roster model is more likely to impact fast success and takes advantage of specialized resource strengths. But within the popular roster model, commonly understood norms and values, well-defined scope, and ways of working together are real-time protocols for success.

Image via Curata

What’s Next? Fellows Prepare for Battle

Agencies: Consider your own offerings and existing client relationships. What role do you play on their team and how can you better serve your partners by stepping up to the content marketing challenge? Also, be prepared to be proactive as you team collaboratively with other agencies and industry resources involved to keep your seat at the roundtable.

Marketing Leaders: Conduct and audit of your internal resources and external partners through the lens of the roles required to execute a successful content marketing program. Look for areas of unnecessary overlap, breaks in communication or gaps of internal and external resources. Don’t forget to count the guineas needed to activate great partners!

Need to make strategic improvements to your content game plan quickly? Reach out to ROJEK to accelerate success, reduce risk and design the right partner mix best suited to help you tame the beast and harness its power to your advantage.