I don’t think my stereotype was very far off—back then.
Now I am a marketer—but not one of those pushy types, because the role of the marketer has changed in its attempt to resolve the conflict between old and new. Marketing has become less about messaging and more about helping the customer, a responsibility once reserved for other teams within the organization. That’s all changing, too.
Marketing goals no longer revolve around pumping out messages about your awesome brand or product (effective ones don’t, at least). Content marketing changed that mentality, because it was forced to. Customers were no longer willing to rely on companies’ sales pitches in their decision-making process. Customers now give their business based on the sum of their knowledge and experience, both before and after a purchase.
Out of necessity, enterprise content marketing has actually become a new kind of customer service industry, reshaping itself around the needs of the customer. Many in marketing have done a great job of analyzing the needs of customers throughout the entire acquisition process—from need identification to purchase and beyond.
Take the example of Ford. Over the past year, the brand has done a phenomenal job of generating brand loyalty through content marketing and social engagement, and it’s starting to show in the bottom line. Placing social media in the driver’s seat, Ford recently released a video of professional stunt driver Ken Block racing around one of its factories in a new Ford Focus RS. The video trended on Twitter and has over a million views. As Mark Truby, vice president of European communications at Ford, told The Drum, Ford’s marketing strategy is changing from one “primarily of media relations” to one “primarily of storytelling.”
Marketing is no longer just marketing. Enterprise content marketing is now pre-sales, the closer, the help desk and customer service, the training team, and throw in a concierge service as well. And it’s all rooted in effective storytelling.
Content marketing is really everywhere inside the organization. Or it should be, at least.
Information technology, marketing, human resources and recruiting, product development and customer service—they’re crucial departments of all enterprise organizations. What do they have in common? They all exist to service the customer, either directly or indirectly. They exist because the customer exists; if the customer went away, so too would these departments and the organization along with it.
Marketing was once the door greeter of the organization that welcomed customers in, but often handed them off for someone else to deal with after the sale. That’s all changing within successful organizations, because the customer’s entire experience is being considered holistically and not segmented, like it once was. Content marketing especially plays a unique role, because a single customer can enter and exit an organization many times throughout the life cycle of that relationship. For example, take a scenario many of us can relate to—our mobile phones. If you’re like me, you purchase a new phone every two years, or maybe even more frequently. I will shop for a mobile phone at least fifteen more times before I retire, and each time, the brand’s content marketing strategy will attempt to welcome me back, educate me on the products, and turn me into a repeat customer.
In large organizations, marketing teams are often tasked with binding many parts of an organization together because of their customer-facing nature. Tradition has grouped sales and marketing together, and more organizations are also coordinating customer service through social media (typically a marketing function).
But who is looking out for the customer’s entire journey?
I think the marketing organization is best positioned to lead that charge and enlist the support of all parts of the organization through a coordinated enterprise content marketing effort. Think about it—content marketing should not be, “buy our product because…” It should be a service (pre- and post-sale) to existing and new customers alike. A customer’s experience across the organization is itself a marketing tool that can be leveraged through the right content.
At a minimum, marketing should participate heavily in the customer experience strategy of your company. I’d take that a step further and say that marketing should own it through content marketing partnerships with other parts of the organization. Marketing effectively becomes the “glue” that champions the customer’s experience in all areas of the company.
Marketing is no longer just about pre-sales messaging, thanks in no small part to the central role content plays in modern marketing strategies. Marketing teams should feel and be empowered to participate in and champion the total customer experience, so that a customer’s journey with a brand is so positive, so coordinated, and so fulfilling that the customer can’t help but to become a return customer and eventual brand advocate.
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