Over the past few months, IDC has worked to define "Content Marketing" and to espouse its vital role in the execution of marketing campaigns.
If you're not on-board yet as to the necessary role of Content Marketing -- read no further ! But if you are, your next step is to assess your operational readiness for Content Marketing Operations. In a nutshell: does your marketing organization have the people, the tools, the process competency, and the leadership mandate, to roll-out Content Marketing capability across campaigns and product-lines?
IDC defines Content Marketing Operations as: "The execution of repeatable and coordinated processes to plan, create, develop, curate and distribute, and maintain the content assets and properties used for content marketing."
Using IDC's new MaturityScape framework, here is a 5-step model to help you assess where you are on the arc of "CMO" competency:
Stage 1: Ad Hoc — Business as Usual
Description: Business as usual — Content marketing does not exist. Assets are created by marketing, but they are mainly product marketing and corporate marketing assets and very rarely content marketing assets (refer to Figure 2). There is no strategy, governance, or process around asset creation, and most activities exist in silos of execution.
Business impact: Marketing, and in turn the entire company, is misaligned with the buyer. There is a lack of successful engagement with the marketplace, which leads to diminishing bookings and, in marketing's case, defunding.
Stage 2: Opportunistic — Houston, We Have a Problem !
Description: Houston, we have a problem ! Marketing acknowledges that content marketing as a function must be developed and that it must be differentiated from product marketing. Movement begins around content marketing, mainly focusing on the initial steps to understand and organize around the topic. Efforts are made to assess what assets currently exist within the organization.
Business impact: The marketing organization begins the process of reorganizing around content marketing; this includes new executives, new titles, and new initiatives. Significant "wins" do not occur in this stage, but initial momentum toward change can be observed.
Stage 3: Repeatable — Content Marketing Works!
Description: Content marketing works! — Strategy and governance (rules, tools, and schools) take form. With growing sponsorship and results, content marketing is well on its way to becoming a respected and important part of the marketing organization. Tangible results are being felt and, more importantly, seen from content marketing.
Business impact: The marketing organization and the company as whole begin to see their messaging and voice be accepted in the marketplace. Through data, marketing is able to decipher between effective and ineffective content marketing assets.
Stage 4: Managed — Content Marketing Is Job Number 1
Description: Content marketing is job number 1 — Content marketing is globally accepted as an important part of the marketing organization. The CMO or head of marketing is fully aware and supportive of content marketing operations efforts. Formalized staffing processes and budgets are in place.
Business impact: Marketing is able to use content marketing to show pipeline attribution. The content marketing assets produced are well received by the buyers and influencers in the market. The company has a leading voice.
Stage 5: Optimized — Content-Driven Success
Description: Content-driven success — Content marketing is an integral part of every line of business and each region's marketing activities. The corporate center of excellence (COE) works in harmony with all marketers, and marketers hold the COE in high regard. Content marketing is recognized as one of the most important parts of not only the marketing department but the entire company.
Business Impact: Marketing is able to use content marketing to show direct revenue attribution and can utilize content marketing assets to predict business impact prior to the asset going live. Content marketing operations has created efficiencies and cut costs from the overall marketing budget. The company is seen as a thought leader on content marketing.
IDC's future outlook is that Content Marketing -- as much as it has been a buzzword of the past few years -- will eventually be so fundamental to marketing execution that it will lose its current "star" status. And, if your marketing organization is not moving up this maturity curve in 2015...you may be putting many other elements and practices of your entire marketing execution at risk.