Peter Drucker said everything is either marketing or innovation. With digital, the new saying could be that all marketing is content.
And it’s not just marketing. We marketers are actually late to the game. Think about the amount of content being created for training, education and HR (as in best practices, not employees) that goes uncategorized and unused. Content optimization and efficiency becomes a determining factor in whether a company dies or thrives. Companies like OpenText thrive by organizing these assets into systems for customers.
Should brands have a chief content officer? Yes, because content is what defines a company. How and what is produced, how that content is managed and valued, how easily accessible it is, can change businesses.
Accompanying the rise of the content officer will be the community officer. Prediction: this role will fold in customer service and HR, who essentially serve the same audience, though we treat them differently today. Employees and customers are an extended part of the same audience, parts of the business’ larger community. These two functions will act as a check and balance on each other: community will validate and co-create different types of content, both organic (originating out of the community) and seeded (initiated by the company).
Understanding what content, what information, which employee resources, training guides, instructions, product showers, are consumed both internally and externally; and what is never looked at is hugely powerful insight into the behaviour, needs and existing communication gaps with two critical audiences: employees and customers/ prospects. Knowing how, when and where, (not individually but in the aggregate) content is being consumed can be more powerful than existing forms of research because it is capturing observed, genuine behaviour versus asking about perceived or remembered actions.
That’s right, a byproduct of focusing on content may be one of the most powerful human insight engines ever constructed. Because actions on content – what they read in the workplace and when, what they read it on, how, what they don’t read and why – all of this is behavioural data, not surveying. It is what people actually do.
This triumvirate of content, community and analytics, in partnership with technology and finance, will rule the world of business in 10 years. It makes business efficient and understandable. It will also likely result in a reckoning for large parts of the marketing industry. Large parts of marketing can be automated based on these insights; we see the start of it today with the rise of chatbots, gathering insights as quickly as they are responding to questions.
Never discount the totemic power of a great ad, however; advertising will complement this evolution and will never die. The cycle of awareness (advertising), information interest and intent to take action will increasingly be measured and become the engine that drives both faster, more intelligent, employee oriented organizational change, and product/service evolution.
Originally published May 25, 2017 on The ACA Edge.
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