The Three Pillars Of Content Marketing Strategy


This text is an extract from the e book “Content material Advertising and marketing Technique” by Robert Rose ©2023 and is reproduced and tailored with permission from Kogan Web page Ltd.

This text is the primary in a sequence of three on Search Engine Journal that delve deeper into the ideas mentioned within the e book. We’re additionally excited to announce that the e book will likely be formally launched on September 26, 2023.

As a token of appreciation in your readership, Kogan Web page Ltd. has generously shared a 20% low cost code solely for Search Engine Journal readers. For those who’re taken with buying the e book, please use the promo code CMS20 at to redeem it.

Simply as we have now the 4 Ps to explain the general advertising combine, we require a brand new mannequin to explain the technique of content marketing.

The content material advertising technique begins with three core pillars: Communication, Experiences, and Operations (which bridges the opposite two).

These pillars overlap barely and thus body 5 particular classes of actions that managers within the enterprise will carry out.

Following are descriptions of the pillars and their related actions.

1. Coordinated Communication

As we established at the start of this e book, enterprise content material is communication.

So, the enterprise should carry out sure actions to raised coordinate the usage of content material in an effort to purchase, preserve, and develop clients and different audiences.

A profitable enterprise communicates clearly and with a constant voice. It’s also in a position to talk in inventive and uniquely related ways in which replicate the variety of its folks and audiences.

To attain that delicate stability of consistency and variety, coordination is crucial. Because of this the primary core class of actions within the communication pillar is Function. That is content-as-a-capability.

Many companies fall right into a entice as a result of they consider that content material advertising can merely be created as a “ability place” inside the enterprise.

They rent a number of journalists, editors, inventive copywriters, and subject material specialists, and set them off to be “good” at creating and managing worthwhile content material.

However, as I stated within the earlier chapter, companies which are managing profitable content marketing strategies notice that the first goal of a succesful content material crew is to not be good at creating content material.

It’s, somewhat, to allow the enterprise to be good on the operation of content material. These journalists, inventive copywriters, or subject material specialists are normally thrown right into a enterprise with solely the duty to “create nice stuff.”

There may be normally no scarcity of that demand, however they rapidly develop into swamped and don’t have the ability, energy, or infrastructure to say “no” when issues get to be an excessive amount of.

High quality begins to undergo, after which doubts begin creeping in as as to whether or not these are the precise folks, or whether or not profitable content material advertising is even potential.

The Function exercise, then, is to develop and handle a transparent set of core tasks and processes that construct and regularly assess the allocation of sources, ability units, and clear charters {that a} content material advertising crew will want in an effort to develop into a differentiated enterprise functionality.

A type of expertise stands out as the precise creation of content material – however there are assuredly others as nicely (and we’ll discover them later on this e book).

That results in the second exercise class within the Communication Pillar: The Mannequin, or content-as-coordinated-communications. The Mannequin exercise additionally overlaps into the Operations Pillar, which we’ll describe shortly.

Each enterprise that succeeds with content material advertising technique can have a well-defined and well-understood governance/working mannequin.

For instance, the enterprise we simply mentioned, with all these journalists, might find yourself with a complete division dedicated to content material advertising as a “centralized” crew.

The Cleveland Clinic is a good instance of this. The world-renowned hospital has created a centralized content material advertising division that could be a functioning enterprise unit.

They began with a handful of content material creators and developed into a various and multi-functional, however centralized, crew with clear and customary working processes.

Different companies might deploy a “federated mannequin” through which the content material crew is accountable for creating solely a small share of content material. The truth is, their whole practical mannequin could also be dedicated to enabling the opposite departments within the enterprise to create, handle, activate, and measure high quality content material throughout a number of channels.

Their position – very like a federal authorities – is de facto to offer a centralized place the place “legal guidelines” (e.g., requirements, playbooks, workflows, and so forth.) are created and saved so that everybody is working in the identical approach. A fantastic instance of that is Anthem Blue Cross Insurance coverage (now Elevance Well being).

This firm employs 98,000 folks and consists of a number of companies, together with pharmaceutical insurance coverage, dental insurance coverage, long-term care, and incapacity.

You’ll learn extra about their journey within the subsequent chapter, however one of many keys for the content material crew chief there was to create a proper constitution for her crew.

They created an organizational course of the place the totally different product teams have coordinated illustration, permitting every to interface with the content material crew.

The model content material crew is accountable for curating, creating, packaging, and making out there Elevance-level model tales.

2. A Portfolio Of Experiences

You’ve simply discovered {that a} coordinated communication/content material method is managing the amount, and high quality, of what the whole enterprise needs to say.

That leads us to the second pillar of a content material advertising technique – Experiences – all the way in which on the different finish of the spectrum. Experiences are the designed containers of content material being created for audiences.

Regardless of how huge a enterprise is, it wants a strategic method to how the content material it creates will likely be utilized to energy designed platforms resembling emails, web sites, useful resource facilities, print magazines, PDF information, occasions, blogs, and even social media channels.

It is a crucial side of working like a media firm that has owned media properties.

For instance, when a media firm thinks of its subsequent manufacturing, it might begin as a film – however then, virtually instantly, operational and administration processes kick in to discover how that very same content material will likely be leveraged in books, tv, podcasts, interactive leisure, and so forth.

The story comes first, after which the pondering for all of the totally different sorts of containers which may categorical that story in several methods.

Bear in mind, for media corporations, the expertise that they monetize is the product. And so they have two major methods of monetizing it.

They monetize entry to the expertise with fashions like subscriptions or promoting a restricted variety of tickets.

Or media corporations will monetize the expertise by promoting entry to the viewers consuming it by permitting sponsors to create content material that will likely be contained in it. That is the mannequin of promoting or sponsored content material.

Our owned media experiences for enterprise ought to be no totally different. All of a model’s owned media channels – the web site, weblog, useful resource middle, ecommerce catalog, print journal, and so forth. – ought to be handled with the identical care and consideration as the present product/service traces.

Identical to a media firm, we should always assume “content material first” after which how we’ll create all of the totally different sorts of containers to ship that content material.

We handle all of those as a portfolio of experiences that exploit worthwhile content material for audiences. Every container ought to have strategic goal, objectives, and goals.

Arguing, for instance, that our web site or our weblog is much less necessary than any of our services is actually arguing that they shouldn’t exist in any respect.

So, as with all services or products, somebody must be accountable for making certain that these experiences are up to date and that they’ve charters, objectives, and particular methods which are optimized to satisfy the wants of the customers (audiences) they serve.

They need to be designed and developed to satisfy new market calls for, promoted in a regular approach, and measured towards shared enterprise objectives. Additional, like all of our services, they need to be simply discontinued once they not swimsuit our enterprise goals.

This pillar is based on the thought that there’s a crew centered on the method of manufacturing and managing the platforms of an organization’s owned media technique in a approach that’s optimum for the corporate’s enterprise objectives.

The 2 exercise classes inside this pillar are Viewers and Worth.

Viewers is the place the enterprise should outline every expertise as a product. In different phrases, Viewers is content-as-product. This harkens again to the earliest days of the 4 Ps.

Identical to we’d create a plan for each services or products we’d convey to market, we now must create product plans for our owned media experiences.

This implies crafting an answer that matches a market want, initiating market analysis into the viewers and understanding them nicely, and having particular, measurable objectives for every content-driven expertise being launched.

This e book dives deep into the Viewers exercise.

Treating experiences this fashion helps us ship their final objective, which is Worth. Worth is content-as-insight. Assembly the entire designed goals of a portfolio of experiences delivers the worth of the content material advertising technique.

This exercise is the place we combine perception and map out precisely the place, when, and the way the content material advertising technique will present it. Designing a measurement and worth method is a core piece of this e book.

And that will get us to the third content material advertising technique pillar, the glue that holds Coordinated Communications and Experiences collectively.

3. Strategic Operations

Think about for a second the observe of accounting.

It is among the oldest enterprise practices on the earth, courting again to the 1400s when mathematician Luca Pacioli created the double-entry accounting system and launched the thought of ledgers, journals, and bookkeeping.

The explanations for requirements and predictable pointers in accounting are simple to know.

Finance touches each a part of a enterprise. Everybody in enterprise does some type of accounting, from the way in which timesheets are accomplished to procurement requisitions, vendor relationships, product gross sales, and even the usage of uncooked supplies for services.

Now take into consideration content material and advertising. As we speak, it’s simply as pervasive as accounting – or much more so in some instances. Creating content material for enterprise communication touches each single a part of the enterprise. It’s the water through which we swim.

But, most companies deal with the creation, administration, distribution, and measurement of content material in an advert hoc method.

Bear in mind, it’s not simply advertising that’s altering, it’s the whole enterprise technique. Thus, the CEO’s or enterprise proprietor’s relationship with advertising and content material modifications as nicely.

In a 2022 article for McKinsey Consulting, one former retail CEO stated,

“Information has modified how the C-suite is interacting with advertising. Now it’s very laborious to separate firm technique from advertising technique.”

If that’s true, then it’s additionally true that it’s laborious to separate firm technique from our content material technique.

As we speak, advertising departments are checked out as factories – locations the place one thing profitable ought to be replicable one million occasions.

With the intention to obtain consistency in replicating success and develop into a core enterprise technique, content material advertising should have a clearly articulated and replicable course of that may flex and accommodate new concepts as they emerge.

The exercise on this pillar is the Body, or content-as-standard.

If activation of participating content material is now the guts of selling, content material operations are what make the guts beat.

Getting content material advertising operations proper frees inventive folks to do inventive issues that allow the enterprise technique, and empowers the advertising groups to attain this at scale.

As we’ve established, everybody within the enterprise creates content material: the net crew, the advertising automation/demand-gen crew, the content material advertising crew, companies, executives, frontline account representatives, salespeople, human sources, and even accounting, with invoices, contracts, and onboarding documentation.

The truth is, it’s most likely simpler to rely all of the individuals who don’t create digital buyer communications today. We’ve established that establishing communications coordination is a major pillar of a standardized method to content material.

Moreover, at this time companies function in a multichannel world with, usually, dozens of channels (experiences) that should be populated with content material in a number of codecs.

For instance, think about an organization that launches two to 4 new merchandise every quarter. For every new product launch, there are 10 belongings deliberate, together with brochures, product tech briefs, a thought management paper, and so forth.

That won’t sound like very a lot, however every of the ten belongings must be custom-made for the 5 main service companions that may assist the advertising, and every of these service companions has promotional belongings that have to be custom-made for different content types or channel specs (social media, video, and so forth.).

Lastly, all of these belongings have to be translated into 4 languages. The web result’s that 10 deliberate items of content material flip into roughly 300 digital belongings that have to be designed and produced.

Multiply that by 2 new merchandise per quarter, and you find yourself with roughly 2,400 digital belongings created yearly only for new product launches.

So, it doesn’t matter how huge the enterprise is – a repeatable set of processes have to be put in place which are ruled by requirements, pointers, playbooks, and expertise.

We name this the Body actions as a result of, very very like the body of your home, it’s what holds every thing up. It’s content-as-a-standard.

This third pillar, Operations, is the folks, processes, and expertise that assist create a repeatable, constant course of to attach the coordinated content material creators (pillar 1) with the experiences powered by the content material they’re creating (pillar 2).

With the precise content material operational mannequin in place, you possibly can scale and measure enterprise content material.

Collectively these three pillars and the 5 building-block actions type a competency framework for everything of your content material advertising technique. They’re stress factors that assist to find out how robust or weak your technique is.

For instance, after I work with an organization that’s combating the aim of their company weblog, I’d first press on the Viewers button. I can see how robust we’re at a company-wide understanding of how nicely we carry out that exercise.

I can look at what makes that class of exercise totally different or optimum.

That, then, helps me as a strategist perceive the place I might have to alter the exercise or strengthen any of the opposite pillars of coordinating communication, operational processes, or managing the experiences.

This framework places a conceptual construction to significant questions that have to be answered:

  • What competencies and ability units are wanted for various roles of individuals, processes, and applied sciences within the enterprise in every of the pillars?
  • What working fashions will likely be required, valued, acknowledged, and rewarded with regard to a functioning content material technique?
  • How will we outline the interior processes of working like a media firm in order that this may be scaled and measured as an efficient enterprise perform?
  • How will the framework present for measurable goals, the outcomes of which can present perception into the worth being created each for the audiences and the enterprise?
  • How will we information the differentiating operational focus for content material advertising that may present the evolving aggressive benefit that the enterprise needs?

You could wonder if there’s an overarching template, a cheat sheet, or standardized solutions to those questions. Luckily, or maybe sadly for these of you who’re searching for a fast reply, there’s not.

Welcome to the artwork and science of content material advertising technique. It jogs my memory of the problem that James Culliton confronted in 1948 whereas introducing the advertising combine, and Jerome McCarthy had in 1960 introducing the 4 Ps.

Whereas the framework could also be helpful, there is no such thing as a single reply for anyone firm a few template advertising combine or use of the 4 Ps. The substances in your excellent mixture of content material advertising technique will likely be yours, and really totally different, certainly.

There is no such thing as a template. There is no such thing as a excellent recipe.

One of the necessary issues we’ve discovered after engaged on content material advertising technique for lots of of manufacturers over the past decade is that what you place into these classes of actions is way much less necessary than consciously making the choice to place one thing in there.

Simply as there is no such thing as a excellent advertising combine, there is no such thing as a excellent content material advertising technique. You’ll evolve. It can change. Since you and your small business will change.

As statistician George Box once said, “All fashions are unsuitable, however some are helpful.”

Profitable content material advertising, both consciously or unconsciously, makes use of components of this mannequin to bolster its operation. As I stated at the start: profitable, pleased content material entrepreneurs appear to have an identical approach of working.

It is a mannequin that we’ve seen work – it’s been examined.

The truth is, you will have realized sooner or later throughout this chapter that the remainder of this e book is organized by overlaying every of the classes of actions in our content material advertising technique mannequin.

For those who can formulate, construction, and pressure-test your actions in every field, then you’re nicely in your technique to creating an important content material advertising technique.

Let’s get to it.

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