A CMO not too long ago requested if he might push again on a phrase I utilized in a webinar – a phrase that entrepreneurs are likely to throw round lots.
I replied, “Sure, push away.”
The phrase was technique.
I had talked lots within the webinar about how the content material itself offers no sustainable aggressive benefit. However, a content material technique may.
The CMO requested: “What is a content material technique, and the way does it present a aggressive benefit if the content material itself doesn’t?
“Isn’t the strategy supposed to define the content?”
OK, yeah, time to go get a cocktail.
How does a #ContentStrategy provide a competitive advantage if the content does not? Via @Robert_Rose @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Now, I didn’t should provide you with a terrific definition of “business strategy.” Harvard professor Michael Porter has already formulated a superbly succesful reply. (I can’t implore you sufficient to go be taught from him.)
Anyway, I received’t and might’t do it justice right here, however I’ll paraphrase a couple of factors from his seminal article What Is Strategy revealed in 1996:
A method is the creation of a “fit” amongst an organization’s actions – establishing a singular and worthwhile place, involving completely different units of actions:
- Serving the FEW wants of MANY clients
- Serving the BROAD wants of FEW clients
- Serving the BROAD wants of MANY clients in a NARROW market.
A method requires the enterprise to make these trade-offs in the place to compete – and make selections about what NOT to do. The success of a technique entails making a broader ‘fit’ amongst all of the actions the corporate decides to carry out.
As you may guess, “activities” are the necessary a part of that breakdown. As Porter says, “Ultimately, all differences between companies … derive from the hundreds of activities required [to run the business] … Activities then are the basic units of competitive advantage.” (The emphasis is mine.)
However, Porter observes a distinction between easy operational effectiveness (OE), which he defines as “performing similar activities better than rivals,” and technique, which is performing completely different actions than rivals or performing related actions in numerous methods.
Thus, technique is “creating a fit among a company’s activities,” in accordance with Porter. Different or differentiated actions place the aggressive benefit.
You can see the quick alignment when you concentrate on content material technique and advertising your corporation. Everything you’ve been taught facilities round creating strategic content material that matches the actions that allow your corporation. You’ve discovered to speak with audiences in a coordinated and differentiated method.
Your problem for aggressive benefit? Do these issues effectively, however discover methods to do them otherwise.
So, my response to the CMO’s query about what a content material technique is was straightforward: “It’s what Michael Porter said.”
No, I’m kidding. I really stated, “A great content strategy is the coordination of all the activities required to enable a business to communicate effectively.”
A content material technique will not be “the brand will talk about X, Y, and Z.”
A content material technique suits collectively completely different actions or actions the model will do otherwise so the model can discuss no matter it determines it wants to speak about.
A great #ContentStrategy coordinates all the activities that enable a business to communicate effectively, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Then, I believed concerning the second half of the query – how does content material technique present a aggressive benefit if the content material itself doesn’t?
Is content material a sustainable strategic differentiator?
I went again and skim for just like the fourth time Rita Gunther McGrath’s guide The End of Competitive Advantage. (She is one other instructor who’s simply unbelievably influential.)
She vividly illustrates that each one aggressive benefit is transient – and now maybe extra transient than ever. This truth, she contends, is known. But then “why,” she asks, “hasn’t basic strategy practice changed?”
Most executives, even after they understand that aggressive benefits are going to be ephemeral, are nonetheless utilizing technique frameworks and instruments designed for attaining a sustainable aggressive benefit, not for rapidly exploiting and shifting out and in of benefits.
The final a part of that sentence actually struck me and has the deepest implications for the evolving observe of strategic content material advertising in a enterprise.
The utility and strategic nature of content material as a enterprise exercise are challenged by this very pondering. After having the privilege of working with a whole lot of enterprise manufacturers over the past 5 years, I’ve concluded: Most companies take into consideration how they’ll change content material to suit advertising’s goal as an alternative of how they may change advertising to suit content material’s goal.
So, no, the content material itself won’t ever be a sustainable aggressive benefit or differentiator – all content material is definitely replicable and, at finest, solely transient in differentiated worth.
#Content will never be a sustainable competitive advantage because it’s easily replicable. At best, it’s transient in differentiated value, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
Instead, change your perspective. Recognizing you and the actions you carry out are a aggressive benefit. Critical to future success is your capability as a staff to be dynamic and fluid – shifting out and in of “arenas” (as McGrath calls them) and creating short-term benefits.
Here’s the true takeaway. Ask your self when you really consider compelling, partaking, helpful, and dynamic content-driven experiences will finally transfer the enterprise ahead.
If the reply is sure, then the strategic worth is in your capability to evolve and coordinate all of the actions to repeatedly create these worthwhile experiences. It will not be the content material itself or the place you distribute it.
Seeing this strategic worth presents implications, lots of which I’ve talked about:
- Businesses should more and more cease organizing and scaling new advertising groups based mostly on platforms, applied sciences, or inside-looking-out views of the client journey. The profitable enterprise turns into expert and built-in at working and managing all manners of content-driven experiences. The format and placement of them on a number of channels will all the time be temporal.
- Businesses should cease taking a look at content material from a container-first perspective – solely designed to help advertising ways or initiatives. Instead, companies should determine the operation of content material as a perform more and more supporting the fluid use of content material to gasoline higher buyer experiences.
- Businesses will win with content material advertising after they can always reconfigure their actions and handle portfolios of content-driven experiences. When one expertise is now not advantageous to the enterprise, they don’t say, “That’s the way it’s always been done.” Instead, they healthily disengage and dismantle these experiences.
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Content technique are actions that match collectively
It all drills right down to the enterprise’s capability to adapt to alter. As Michael Porter says, attending to easy operational effectiveness (e.g., effectivity) is “seductive because it’s concrete and actionable.” It’s simply simpler to see how the frequent actions of content material creation, administration, activation, and measurement may be made extra environment friendly.
More troublesome is to find out the completely different actions the enterprise will do and which actions the enterprise will do otherwise.
If you concentrate on it, content material technique – and the actions match collectively – is the factor that should change on a regular basis. Your enterprise’s content material capabilities mirror its capability to speak. And your capability to evolve your communication is, certainly, the one factor that creates any aggressive benefit.
In truth, in lots of circumstances, the actions round content material are the one factor that may evolve. As Jonathan Mildenhall, then the vice chairman of worldwide promoting technique and artistic excellence, pointedly informed me, he couldn’t change something concerning the iconic nature of the packaging or the product of Coca-Cola. The solely factor he might construct upon is the experiential media and dialog round that product. As he stated:
Coca-Cola may be considered as an enormous media model with superb attain and frequency. The query we ask ourselves is, ‘Can we use our belongings as content material, and might we create content material out of our belongings?
In brief, Coca-Cola modified. Instead of viewing content material as a option to match advertising’s goal, Jonathan modified advertising as a option to match a content material goal.
This is content material technique in your world as entrepreneurs. This is the change it is best to attempt for.
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Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute