Content needs drive organizational changes

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As they face the challenges of creating, managing and distributing content for marketing across multiple platforms—particularly social media—b-to-b marketers are putting new organizational models and systems in place.

Marketers from companies such as Intel Corp., Sybase Inc. and Xerox Corp. are pursuing different strategies to handle the changes, but they all agree that the need to pump out more content for marketing is forcing them to rethink their organizational structures and even their cultures.

“There are multiple challenges. Creating content by itself is not the most daunting task,” said Pam Didner, global integrated marketing manager at Intel. “The biggest challenge is the mentality shift within the marketing organization. Marketing execs are always in the mindset of selling products; but, in a way, we need to think and act like magazine editors. This type of thinking and approach is new to us.”

Didner said Intel has taken a new approach to content development—in which it creates “stories” around product announcements and company news—tied to customer pain points and topics of interest.

“We have similar challenges as editors: What issues should we talk about? We want to pick those that resonate with IT but bring relevance back to Intel,” she said.

In order to identify relevant topics and issues to focus on, Intel uses primary research, such as focus groups and customer surveys, and secondary research, such as Forrester Research and IDC studies.

Last year, it created its first editorial calendar, which it uses to plan content around relevant topics, such as cloud computing services and migration to Mi-cro-soft's Windows 7 operating system.

Intel's marketing group uses the editorial calendar to develop content that's used in advertising, on its website, in social media and during events.

“Once we select a topic, say Windows 7 migration, we work with our messaging team, create a story brief, identify our campaign strategy for the topic [and] develop audience insight—including who are we going after and what are the audience pain points, what does the messaging framework look like and what is Intel's story,” Didner said.

Intel's marketing team then shares the story brief with stakeholders across the organization to get feedback. Next, it develops a content “deck” to use in the company's marketing, from corporate efforts down to local-country campaigns.

“The process is good,” Didner said. “At this time, we are still in the trial-and-error stage, making refinements as we go.”

Sybase is also pursing more of a publishing model in its content development strategy as it looks at ways to generate conversations around its products and services.

“I think marketers are being forced to think like publishers,” said Mark Wilson, senior VP-corporate marketing and field marketing at Sybase. “Social media is forcing marketers to create more content in order to participate in conversations and drive conversations.

“Traditionally, marketers would have an ad agency create some copy, a data sheet or a white paper, and that was it. Now, the flow of content is vastly higher. It has really transformed the marketing department to look less like a cubicle farm and more like a newsroom.”

To handle its need to generate more content on tighter deadlines, Sybase has hired former reporters as “brand journalists.” These writers create blogs, develop website content, participate in social media conversations and moderate webcasts for Sybase.

However, Wilson said, “It's not just hiring a brand journalist and having someone on staff to blog. You also have to invest in the distribution of blog content and monetize that blog content. Once you have strong writers with followers getting a lot of hits, you can start to measure how you monetize that content.”

Sybase uses a proprietary system for its Web content management, Omniture for Web measurement and Eloqua for marketing automation.

Laura Ramos, VP-industry marketing, global document outsourcing at Xerox Corp. North America, said her organization is putting new systems and methods in place to handle the increasing requirement to develop and distribute content.

“One of the biggest challenges is making sure people have access to the latest content,” she said. “The other big challenge is brand and message: Is the content consistent with your brand?”

Ramos said this applies to content used in advertising, on social networks, during sales presentations, at industry events and on websites.

“Lots of people are in charge of it, and that's part of the problem,” she said.

“Being a multinational company with multiple product lines in multiple countries, every business unit has its own roles and responsibilities for taking care of this.”

At Xerox Services, the organization has moved from multiple, independent content repositories to a centrally managed system for internal content, including sales presentations, customer testimonials, published case studies and other internal material, Ramos said.

It is also developing a new multimedia sales tool that will pull together content such as customer testimonials and Flash demonstrations for salespeople to use in presentations and client meetings.

“One of the challenges b-to-b marketers face is that as the world becomes more "electronic,' the traditional way we write things for the written page needs to become more multimedia and modular so you can syndicate content and use it in different ways,” Ramos said.

“We want to make sure we leverage content that is current and interesting, instead of having a corporate advertising voice. We want to get to a more relaxed voice that is not incompatible with our brand, showing some of the things that are going on, maybe interspersed with video content.”

For example, Xerox Services has a thought leadership site that features interviews with executives, case studies, white papers, customer testimonials, sustainability calculators and other content.

The company uses a variety of sources to develop content, from its own internal marketing group to outside industry experts to communications agencies, Ramos said.

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