Client Talks: Prioritization
Sep 2, 2016
Client Talks is a series of conversations between an agency and client, focusing on Content Marketing. For our second installment, John Lane, chief strategy officer at Centerline, sits down with Jason Poblete, content marketing manager at IBM Analytics: World Wide Public Sector. Check out the first installment, focusing on limited budgets, here.
Prioritization – we’ve all got to do it at some point. When it comes to your content marketing strategy, though, how do you choose which content to move forward with, and which content to keep on the back burner?
John Lane: What are the different measurements, or inputs that you use to prioritize content? Because there’s a finite budget, and there’s a hierarchy when it comes to what content needs to be made. There has to be levers that get pulled to say, ‘If both these things won’t fit within the budget, which one do we prioritize and why?’
Jason Poblete: I wouldn’t say we have a methodology, or a system that we use every time we’re in that sort of situation. I will say this – when I think about deciding things like that, the first place my mind goes is, ‘Where does this piece of content fit in the buyer’s journey?’ I need to understand what the content is, and what it’s supposed to do.
What we decide when it comes to which piece of content to go with changes depending on where the content will sit within the buyer’s journey. If I have a buyer who is already up to date on both the industry’s and their own pain points, and are aware of what IBM does, then I have an idea of where they are in the buyer’s cycle and what we should offer and how we can help.
The next thing to consider, in terms of metrics, is asking, ‘How many leads is this generating? How many calls are we getting to our sales reps? How many people are submitting registrations for pieces like this?’ Because they are so far in the sales funnel that clicks don’t mean anything to me at that point. At that point, what I care about is how to get you to press ‘buy.’
So I think the way that we pull on specific levers as far as what we include and what we don’t include, and how we view content, varies across the journey and is based upon where our buyer might be at any step in that journey.
JL: Yeah, it goes down an interesting road there. Because when we talk about this from an agency perspective—and we’re talking about content marketing movements—it’s that idea of, ‘Well, we’re really trying to get people to buy into this idea that content marketing is a methodology by which you can create content that will fit for every single different phase of a buyer’s journey.’
It’s a very different way of looking at it than it would be if you are thinking overtly about just the conversion point and just the change in mindset or action of the consumer. So a content marketing movement is more around the idea that we are going to prepare people with content and have content that is in a contextual spot that actually helps them educate themselves based on their moment of need or their moment of impulse, or their moment of passiveness, and not worry so much in terms of hitting the perfect advertisement that moves them immediately down the chain
The reason we try to build the content marketing movement from that point of view is because of the way that people interact with content – we actually get context for what they want to do next, or how fast they want to move.
In the context of advertising, you are already telling them that you are expecting that they are going to make this next move on their own. So if you don’t hit the perfect moment in time with an advertisement, it’s wasted motion. On the other hand, if you don’t hit the perfect moment in time with the content, it’s okay – because that content is going to live and breathe and be out there on it’s own. So it’s a different form of investing, right? It’s the investment in the rapid conversion versus the long-term benefit, and potentially more conversions over a longer period of time.
JP: Yeah, absolutely.
I believe content serves to engage your audience in meaningful conversation, where they leave feeling either good or bad. Because emotions drive action.
The purpose of content is to engage, to entertain or to educate. As marketers, we must know what the purpose of content marketing is.
JL: Yeah, agreed. If we’re an agency talking about how to help people build content marketing movements, we probably have one particular point of view. We are looking at it as a better way to engage, entertain and educate—and move—more people through a buyer’s journey in a kinder, more gentle form of marketing, if you will.
But we are graded and judged on our success in a very different way than someone on a client side like you would be.
JL: So, I would bet that the pressure you are getting as a marketing manager from within the brand is probably a lot heavier, and probably a lot harder to deal with in terms of getting people to buy into the content marketing movement. I could be wrong, but that’s my feeling.
Do you feel it’s harder because of the different pressures on conversion that you have in-house?
JP: Yeah, absolutely. That is a battle that I have fought a lot, and I have been explicitly told that we can’t do something because it doesn’t generate leads. When everyone is fighting for dollars on a limited budget for marketing, those who get the most leads essentially get the most money.
So, if I wanted to create an entertaining interactive infographic or a collection of photography with minimal messaging, that captured the emotion of people working in our industry, I’m not going to get money for that because it doesn’t have a lead tied to it. So that’s the battle that I find myself regularly facing and trying to figure out. Like, “OK, how can I tie lead generation to this?’
It’s very difficult to win a battle to spend money on something that doesn’t have a registration page directly tied to it. That could just be a function of the industry I’m in, but it could also be a misunderstanding organizationally of content marketing. I think that’s my main tension point right now.
JL: You just brought up something interesting.
When we’re on the agency side, more often than not—and this is probably a bad way to think about it—we’re thinking that we are working with you, and you have a budget. We are trying, even though you’re already a believer in the power of content marketing, to say, ‘Here is the content marketing we should do. Here’s the budget based on that. How does this resolve itself with your budget?’ We are looking at it as a very thin relationship.
At an organization like IBM, or another mid-to-large size corporation, you are competing for both budget for marketing and the idea of how to use it for content against many other different business units. So that understanding from an agency—that clients aren’t just talking to us about budgets, but that they have to compete for the budget they are given—is critically important to better partnership.
JP: Yeah, exactly.
JL: That changes some of the equation of how you have to go back and prove efficacy; it’s an expanded point of view.
What gets us really excited about a project is when we’re looking at it and saying, ‘We have a client with a like mind in terms of how you actually progress marketing.’ The idea that we need to make this movement together – we need to actually get the prospect from here to there. We have this set budget, so let’s make forward movement and solve the problems within this set budget.
That’s a very desirable characteristics for us because it’s freeing. Even though it’s limiting, it’s freeing because you can look at the budget and say, ‘We can make these three different options. They all fit.’
They all have their benefits and costs, but by narrowing it down and saying budget is limited, it actually helps you come up with things that are highly specific to accomplishing a goal within a certain box.
Then if those two things line up, if they have the same mentality of how great marketing is done and a limiting factor of a budget, that actually is a wonderful, freeing thing that helps us get excited because we know exactly what we are trying to do. We have the right type of buy in.
Jason Poblete in his own words: A 2012 graduate from Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business, Jason is dedicated to interacting with audiences using valuable and innovative storytelling to build relationships. He currently resides in Morris County, New Jersey with his wife. Follow Jason on Twitter.
John Lane in his own words: When I would watch TV as a kid, I would run to the bathroom during the shows so I could make it back for the commercials… they were more interesting to me. That interest in the connection between brand and consumer is still the driving force of my involvement in marketing strategy and content creation. Follow John on Twitter.