THE BLOG

What Keeps Customers Hungry

09/24/2013 05:18 EDT | Updated 11/24/2013 05:12 EST

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One of the core values I learned while in marketing at the Walt Disney Company is that a guest's experience is everything. Getting your brand beyond being perceived as a commodity (price, price, price) is critical to generating real brand value. A fundamental way you get to a better experience in today's digital centric world is to provide better content that your customers are hungry for. This shows you are ahead of your competitors; you know more, care more and can assist them in their challenges and their curiosity with better information and content.

As Barry Lowenthal wrote recently in AdWeek about content strategy, "every piece of communication can help dimensionalize a company, further define its brands and tighten its bonds with its customers."

The challenge in practice is that you now need to create, manage and shape that content across not only your enterprise website, but mobile sites, social channels, search engines, blogs, tweets, analyst reports and online videos to name but a few. Solving part of this challenge creates the need for a good enterprise content management system.

However, when the content management system purchase and management is lead by the technology teams alone, content, and arguably your customers, do not come first. That's because although marketing executives know a CMS will solve a lot of problems with marketing, the investment in an enterprise content management system is often thought of as an engineering problem. While some technologists are brilliant user-centric thinkers, it's the marketing teams that need to partner with the technology teams to drive the audience needs and requirements, because really it is a marketing and customer challenge first, and we need to start with content first and customers first. That means having a smart enterprise content strategy.

What is an enterprise content strategy? It is a disciplined and strategic approach that brings together your marketing teams, product teams, technology teams and vendors -- to structure your digital content to make it work for your business objectives, and to meet your audience's needs. It also allows you to get the most out of your content management system. Most importantly, if done right, it is driven with a content first and customer first vision so that you can constantly achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction with your digital platform.

Content strategy focuses on four key areas:

1. Substance -- What content does your audience need and why? What is the content you have and want to develop? Is it on brand? Is it written to appeal to the right audience?

2. Structure -- How will the content take form? How is it prioritized and organized? How will it appear in a mobile device, and will the right content be in the right context? What is the taxonomy for SEO?

3. Workflow -- Is your content process reactionary and taking all the time of the editorial and marketing teams? How do we organize publishing and editorial processes? Who approves? Who is involved? Who researches and writes new content meeting customers need?

4. Governance - What are your content policies, brand guidelines, visual standards, infographic standards? Who owns that? How do we encourage stewardship and best practices so that departments don't just "throw it up on the website"?

The key factor for any business's success is in anticipating what's next and having the ability to innovate. If your digital platform and digital assets can't adapt, your business can't adapt. Taking a strategic approach to making your content work across your digital channels and platforms creates an outcome of making your digital assets work for you, your customers and your business. This is absolutely critical before you invest in a content management system.

Whether Fairfax buys Blackberry or not, the dramatic slide in their share price and value is an example of a innovative company that failed to stay innovative. Few would disagree that regardless of your business category, success is about being consistently more innovative and agile, no matter how big you are. If you market products and services, your digital channels and digital platforms are a critical foundation to communicating that innovation.

Why is this critical now?

According to Business Insider, 23 million Canadians use smartphones, and 8.5 million Canadians use tablets. According to Nielsen, more than half of all U.S. consumers use smartphones. A third of all adults over eighteen use a tablet according to Pew. We also know that mobile devices are becoming the primary business and consumption device.

If your content is broken on mobile, it's a missed opportunity. Having your brand content available at every touch point for your customer means not only more profitability, but better Brand ROI. Having a smart content strategy ensures that you are creating content that puts your customer’s needs first.