It is an established fact that the race of communication can only be won by mastering the art and science of content development and dissemination. The organizations across the globe are working hard to win the arts and science of content development and dissemination with very strong focus on digital communication.
Organization to win the digital communication war is amalgamating search, social and content into their digital marketing strategies. They are busy developing the content maturity model in order to streamline the communication plan and process for the organization. In my views, communication consultants, content experts, and digital marketing evangelists are trying to figure out how to make this transition as a stepwise journey across a series of maturity phases.
Organizations across the globe is trying their best to win the race. This race is not only about core issues viz., Revenue, Operations, Productivity, Innovation, Human Resources Index, but also about issues like marketing, communication, etc.
The content maturity model is not developed by accident. Content maturity model provides – insights on a company’s current content marketing plan, design the content road-map, optimization strategy for better content road-map, etc. In my views a well-defined content marketing maturity model helps businesses establish where they are and how can they reach the desired destination – where they need to go.
To capitalize on a content maturity model, communication experts must first identify at which stage of content maturity model they fall. Then, they can figure out what must be done to move up the value chain.
Soul Searching is the first step of content maturity model. In this step, organization or brand define their features, offerings, basic communication statement, etc. In this stage brand owners decide brand promise and start establishing relationship with audiences. Mostly in this stage the communication is more monologue than dialogue.
As this is the initial stage of content maturity model the focus is on status quo. Most often content is created because it is basic or necessary and not good to do things. The activities at this stage includes – website content, press releases, social media presence and content seeding, web site content update when products and services are launched and occasional blog post. In a few organizations, we can also witness that dedicated resources are allocated for the content marketing efforts.
At times, some experimentation with brand centric blogging, social networks engagement, and search engine optimization work focus on promotion, distribution of brand messaging are also done for visibility and engagement. At the stage of Soul Searching, marketers are not looking beyond the basics of content marketing. They are mostly satisfied with their efforts until they start to see competitors overcoming them on all media channels – earned, owned and shared media.
Once organization has clearly defined and documented their capabilities, they tend to move to next stage of maturity – storytelling. At this stage the Storytellers takes the simple architecture of literature to a meaningful and engaging story. They convert their product attributes, and value propositions into storylines for deeper brand engagement.
Marketers, with the help of storytellers focus on growing their footprint on the web, increase their engagement on social media with specific story line. The increase in engagement with brand however, do not always indicate an increase in leads and sales. At this stage content is developed according to defined customer segments and their information needs.
Storytelling help marketers start the journey of investigation into more specific opportunities from the customer point of view and shows empathy to the buyer journey.
Organizations at this stage of content maturity journey, start focusing on dedicated and specialized team. They see the need of dedicated resources to produce content for search engine optimization and social media optimization. At this stage, processes and tools are used to make the content ideation, creation, management, optimization, distribution, and measurement efficient and effective.
In the next stage of content maturity, marketers work on differentiating the product with strong point of view that sets them apart from the competition. The best content marketers have brands that stand for a higher purpose.
Differentiation help marketer reveal a rich vein for storytelling.
The storytelling is taken to the next level of customization and sophistication at this level. Marketers develop distinct customer segments, and customize the communication for each customer segment. At the stage of Differentiation, content is mature and optimized as per characteristics and information needs. Marketers also focus on content planning and monitoring, and focus on answering specific customer queries as they move through the sales cycle.
At this stage, we also witness that content is optimized for search and social media discovery and promoted through multiple channels. Moreover, building connections though social networks and use of influencers relationships is a key component for content promotion.
Now that content marketing process for the organization is maturing and communication team has started developing content with brand guidelines, customer segments, and the sales cycle. The content marketers are ready to take the content marketing journey to the next level of maturity. The next phase of content maturity reaches beyond the rhetoric and focuses on changing the prevalent buying criteria in respective market. The prime goal of marketing experts here is to get customers to think about a problem, and a solution – differently. This is the stage when marketers start working on category creation.
The best Category Creators combine product and service innovation with effective content marketing that helps bridge the consumers’ imagination gap.
At this stage of content maturity marketers start focusing on the creating category specific content, and growing social communities. In order to develop a meaningful connection with community, buyers and the brand, marketers start to tap into emotional appeals in their content. At this stage, storytelling once again help marketers in maturing content marketing beyond features and benefits and incredible usefulness means connecting with customers on an emotional level. The difference in storytelling at this stage is that the users at times, become part of the story telling in form of brand advocate, influencers, or a character who is role-playing.
This stage also witness customer’s growth as brand authority and subject matter experts from a brand advocate, or influencer. It is observed that most companies are satisfied with the growth rates in community, engagement, customer acquisition and revenue at this stage and they don’t want to graduate to the next level. But the growth hungry organization, who want to establish themselves as the authority in the industry work on the process to evolve their publishing capabilities and keep evolving the content marketing process. The ultimate phase of content maturity is Thought Leadership. Brands at this stage deliver more value, engage emotionally and demonstrably walk their talk. Thought leadership is attained by achieving excellence along the three dimensions: product, content and operations.
Achieving and mastering the content maturity model is not an easy task. In my views one must take the first step with all honesty and commitment and follow the basic steps of success: At first, it is important for the communication experts to identify organization’s current position on the maturity model. Once it is clear to the communication experts as to where the organization stands in the maturity curve, the next step is to determine the technology that will help bring organization at desired level and continue to form ideas for developing technology bundles. It is also important to break down the isolation, build relationships, and find opportunities of engagement so that all stake holders can work together as team. The communication head also needs to establish goals in order to reach successive levels.