Organisational silos: Sounding the death knell of content marketing

This is a sponsored post from King Content

When businesses buy into the need for content to occupy a strategic and cross-functional position within the organisation, it will have manifold implications – not least being the breaking down of silos that are so detrimental to content marketing.

Where should content marketing sit within the organisation? Is it the preserve of only the marketing department or does it warrant a more cross-functional existence across departments?

For when content is owned by everyone – marketing yes, but also product, HR, sales and customer service teams – it will force these erstwhile separate entities to collaborate to achieve common organisational goals.

Gaining a true understanding of customer needs

Thanks to a mindset shift in recent years, many businesses now understand that content marketing is not about selling products – rather, it’s about addressing their customer’s needs and demands through valuable information, which nurtures relationships for business growth.

Which brings us to the question: Who has the best knowledge of a customer’s needs and demands? Is it the:

  • customer service team who daily deals with him and fulfils his requests?
  • sales team who is in discussions with him to understand his needs and offer a solution?
  • product team who researches and builds products of utility and value?
  • the marketing team who studies customer persona and characteristics, buying behaviour, etc?

The answer is – all of them! A quality content marketing campaign draws from the rich insights supplied by each and every one of these teams – client data from the sales team, feedback from the customer service team, market research from the marketing team and the right product from the product team.

Breaking down these departmental silos and integrating their insights can ensure superior messaging and lead to a quality content strategy that touches the customer at different points of his decision cycle, offering him the answers that he is looking for. It transforms your company from one that sells products to one that offers ideas.

As Todd Wheatland, global head of strategy at King Content, said: “The new reality is people don’t care about internal silos; they just know if they like Brand X or not. If 85% of people applying for a job at Starbucks are existing customers, what impact does a bad experience as a candidate have on sales? The real brand lives free of silos, and the content marketing principals of communicating to an audience with authenticity need to flow across all of a company’s audiences – not just those traditionally addressed by the marketing department.”

An organisation that operates in content silos

Imagine a large organisation where each department operates independently creating its own content, and think about the myriad mixed messages that are coming out from somewhere in there! This is far more common than you would imagine.

Each department is motivated only as far as its mandate goes, so the product team talks about the product story, the HR team about the employee story and so on. Who is talking about the customer’s story and what he is looking for? How can you align your brand story to his? And what is that one brand story you want to talk about? These essential questions get ignored.

To further exacerbate the situation, a deeper level of ‘silo-ification’ happens when marketing departments take sole ownership of content. Within the department are multiple teams working on various aspects of content – strategy, editorial, social, native, PR and so on.

Working in isolation is the strategist who builds personas that have nothing to do with the actual customer; the PR team who is focused on getting the company’s name in that top publication, even if the content itself is of no value to the end customer; and the social team who chases likes and clicks with no overall context on the messaging.

At the heart of it all is the editorial team, denied a feedback loop or integrated functioning, churning out content that may not even be suitable for amplification purposes, or even more simply – that no one likes or reads.

Working together for a unified content strategy

How do we break down these silos? By making content marketing a strategic function that sits across the organisation and not just the purview of the marketing team. Additionally, this function should merge different resources that work together on all things content.

What you’re working to create is a cross-functional team with one organisational objective and common metrics to measure that objective, using different channels to give voice to that unified content strategy.

It is essential to build a culture that understands that the only objective of content marketing should be to create quality and relevant content – and this must be a common objective no matter the departmental function. If content is used to drive individual goals such as article placement, likes and number of articles produced per month, it will fail its raison d'être.

For if the content offers true value to your reader, it will automatically build brand awareness and bring the customer to you. But that is the consequence, not the objective.

The writer is Kritika Srinivasan, head of editorial, King Content.