Karaoke Singer vs. Dynamic Band
Karaoke can be fun. You stand in front of an audience, singing your heart out to pre-recorded tracks of your favorite songs. It can be a rewarding experience. For all the fun that karaoke provides, when all is said and done, you’re just singing to a canned backing track. But imagine yourself singing with the support of a live band — a team of people who have rehearsed with you to achieve the shared goal of creating an exhilarating musical experience. As someone who has sung karaoke style and with a band, I prefer the dynamic interaction that occurs when performing with others (provided the band has spent enough time rehearsing). In addition to the extra boost of energy from the presence of other players, there’s also a deeper level of communication that takes place. It’s a visceral, visual, non-verbal exchange that enhances the experience. Body language and spontaneous musical cues (an extraordinary drum fill, a singular keyboard riff) produce new ideas that would not have surfaced with a lone singer and backing track. It’s like magic.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of modern marketing. You can take an aloof, casual approach to the experience and let what happens happen or lead a collaborative effort that leads to a more dynamic result. On today’s business stage, it’s unreasonable for companies to expect their outsourced agencies to get marketing done without their help. Your best bet for moving the needle will come when you act as front person of your own content marketing combo — a band of professionals with complementary skills necessary to achieve your business goals. Like any skillful bandleader, you’ll need the right balance of players who can take direction while bringing their own perspectives to the performance (consider the differences between a keyboardist, guitarist, bassist and drummer). Another metaphor that works is content marketing as team sport. It requires the participation of every member and works best when facilitated by an invested coach.
In the April 2015 issue of Chief Content Officer Magazine, Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi opens with an editorial piece that addresses the needs of the content marketing process from the agency/client perspective. Riffing off of the Tom Cruise film, “Jerry Maguire,” Joe mentions how he has implored clients, “Help me help you!” He goes on to explain that success depends upon the client. For instance, when clients don’t provide agencies with access to vital resources, failure is certain. He goes on to make three points that will help the content marketing process to succeed. I was inspired to quote them here and add my own perspective.
Involve the Agency In Your Complete Marketing Strategy
JP: There is no way an agency will succeed on your behalf if it doesn’t understand the full scope of what you are trying to accomplish.
Truth. Marketers need to know your overall business objectives as well. They need access to sales people and customers. The silos need to come down. Marketers need access to your executive team, those who are making crucial decisions that affect the direction of the company. They need insight from subject matter experts who understand your solution and the overarching industry issues associated with it. Meetings with such important players can help your marketing team understand the state of the company as well as the “unknown unknowns” of your solution.
For content marketing to be the most effective, your company’s goals must align with your customer’s needs. Your agency (or marketing consultant) needs to get inside the head of your customer. Since your sales people own the customer relationships, they can inform and enable the process. They can help to facilitate customer interviews that will unearth business problems, motivations for seeking your solution (or your competitor’s), underlying emotions and their buying process. The insight gained from buyer interviews is crucial to informing your strategy.
Your sales team has a strategy that your marketing team needs to understand in order to provide properly aligned content. Without perspective from Sales, vital insights that could empower your marketing strategy remain hidden.
In my six years at PropelGrowth, our most successful engagements have been those when our clients have been invested in the process and have participated with us. Their involvement has been invaluable.
Form an Agency Coalition
JP: If you’re like most, your company is working with multiple content marketing agencies. Don’t hide them from each other. Introduce them and make sure each one know the part it plays.
Even if you’re only working with one content marketing agency, you’re most likely also working with a PR firm, internal writers, and a trade pub or two. Maybe even a creative or ad agency. They’re not each other’s competition. These people are members of your team, and their relationships are a key to your success. Think of a supergroup, like Foo Fighters or The Travelling Wilburys (bands that were created by incorporating stars who had distinguished themselves in other bands). Create an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation. Like a band, you have to make sure all the players on your team are working from the same song (message), musical score (strategy) and arrangement (tactical plan). Each member has a unique strength that can help to enrich and amplify your message. That’s how you make great music instead of just noise.
If there’s static between your marketing agency and your PR agency, cacophony results. [highlight to tweet] Your message gets muddled, leaving your audience confused. All players must be performing at the same tempo, in the same key signature. If your marketing agency and key trade pubs aren’t aligned, you could miss out on coordinating crucial calls to action, negatively impacting your lead generation efforts.
Have you considered the fact that even your strategic partners are part of your team? One of our fin-tech clients recently hosted a webcast in alliance with a vendor whose solution complements its own. The expanded story made for an engaging event and expanded our client’s sphere of influence. The event went so well that the partner vendor invited their client (a mid-tier financial institution) to do another webcast, still including our client. Several more financial institutions now want to do the same thing. This is expanding the reach of both vendors exponentially.
Give Them More Than 12 Months
JP: Just like a content marketing program is unlikely to bear much fruit in a few months, the same goes for your agency’s progress. Give them some runway to get traction. I’ve rarely seen an agency-client relationship work in a one-year program.
Many fin-tech companies are just now starting to wake up and smell the content marketing coffee. Most are way behind in adopting modern marketing techniques leveraged by other industries. But as they begin to experiment with content marketing, they tend to have a “magic bullet” mindset. “One and done” is a frequent — and unrealistic — expectation. They don’t always grasp the full import that doing content marketing means becoming a publisher. Becoming a publisher means building an audience. Building an audience takes time. Time to research. Time to plan. Time to execute and build momentum. Carrying out content marketing is a longer-term and bigger commitment than an ad campaign. [highlight to tweet] It’s like the difference between playing The Minute Waltz and taking on performing The Beatles’ Abbey Road. There’s greater reward to the business and more value for the audience.
The relationship between agency and client needs time to develop in order to uncover the nuances of the client’s business, solution and voice. For example, during one of our “buffalo” programs (typically a one year commitment), we found that our client’s executive team members represented four divergent viewpoints. Recognizing this, we collaborated to form a strategy that resulted in exploiting each voice to address specific buyer personas. This could only have been achieved by having consistent interaction with the executive team. As a result of their commitment to the program, we’ve been able to harmonize and perform much better than pulling off a limited series of disjointed “one-off” projects. Access makes the heart grow fonder and insights flow freer, resulting in beautiful music.
So, will you endure the futility of putting together a series of one-off pickup bands or develop your own content marketing supergroup, dedicated to creating lasting value and delighting your audience? Consider the positive impact that making a longstanding commitment to the content marketing process will have on your business. It will make the difference between being a one-hit wonder and an industry legend. Get the band together, rehearse, jam on it and rock your world.
Click below to learn more about achieving content marketing success:
How to Evaluate a FinTech Content Marketing Agency
Strategy is Essential to Content Marketing
Developing Buyer Personas for Financial Services