Content marketing and the silo issue
Is your content suffering from turf battles over who owns it? Columnist Rebecca Lieb explains how to get your employees, customers and partners to collaborate to make your content shine.
Once upon a time (circa 15 years ago), digital marketing had a great big silo chip on its shoulder. “Digital needs a seat at the grown-up table,” the lament went. Traditional media got all the dollars, the love, the attention. Digital, meanwhile, was relegated to the sidelines. Maybe it was a nice-to-have, but never a must-have.
Boy, has that situation ever changed. Spending in digital has surpassed many traditional channels as digital has commandeered the lion’s share of eyeballs and time-spent metrics. No one’s debating digital’s primacy anymore.
But silos? That’s a bigger problem than ever. Digital, which once claimed to be the overlooked silo, used that time to develop more of its own silos than you can shake a proverbial stick at: data, measurement, email, search, social, display, media buying, retargeting, reputation management — the list goes on and on.
In fact, so many digital silos have sprouted up in a comparatively short period that now the grousing is contained under the digital umbrella. Search and email feel relegated to the sidelines. There isn’t enough communication between comms and social media. Assets aren’t shared.
A new silo issue is cropping up in digital marketing that I’m seeing on a recurring basis in companies that I work with. It’s a content marketing issue.
I’ve written in this space in the past about the challenges organizations face when they try to integrate content marketing into the enterprise. Content departments are beginning to emerge, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
While search, social, email and analytics have very rapidly become dedicated disciplines, content remains a bit of a stepchild in most firms.
That’s where the silo issue crops up. In a rush to “claim” content and, in theory, to ensure control of the content that’s produced for marketing purposes, I’m seeing wars (or at least turf battles) break out over who controls content.
These land grabs might be between marketing and the creative department. Product often wants a say. IT might claim a good deal of primacy, because, after all, content demands software and other IT resources.
It’s critical, of course, that organizations develop a culture of content to involve employees, vendors, customers and partners in the content marketing process. However, this is an overwhelmingly inclusive process. When turf wars erupt over who “owns” content, the process is, by nature, exclusive.
Overcoming silos (and turf wars)
The only way to battle exclusiveness is with inclusion. No one ever said it would be easy, but bringing parties (and factions) together is critical for alignment. Easier said than done, right?
A tactic that helps is a collaborative workshop as a prerequisite to content strategy. Representatives of all the interested parties (or corporate divisions) assemble for a full or half day to discuss content marketing.
It’s a forum in which everyone has a voice; where needs, wants and reservations can be articulated; and where a set of goals can be surfaced and, perhaps even more importantly, prioritized.
When I run workshops with the companies I work with, we begin with a crash course on content marketing: what it is, what it can achieve, how it aligns with and affects different divisions in the enterprise, and what the requirements are (e.g., staff, software and so on).
Once a common understanding and vocabulary are established, it’s then much easier to review individual and collective goals. Needs and wants, workflow issues, staffing imbalances and more surface as a result of collective, collaborative conversations.
In larger organizations, a critical part of this process is often conducting deep stakeholder interviews in advance. For really large global enterprises, this can be accompanied by a stakeholder survey (when it’s not practical to conduct one-on-one interviews with dozens of staffers in far-flung regions).
Presenting these findings to the assembled workshop group is a great way to level-set and to identify needs, gaps and priorities that exceed the scope of the gathering at hand.
Siloization nevertheless tends to be a lingering problem. I’d love to hear from readers: How are you aligning people and organizations around content efforts in ways that minimize friction and competition? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or our LinkedIn Group.