The Content Dilemma: A Blueprint for Better Content Creation
Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools.
McLuhan wrote this over 50 years ago, but he might as well have been talking to the era we now live in, one where unprecedented marketing opportunity is thwarted by inadequate tools – or at least, the inadequate deployment of them.
More channels, more formats, more touchpoints, more opportunities.
The new content landscape is exciting. Content can now live in more spaces and screens than ever before. We can use data to inform our creative, and to precision target it. On paper, we should be making the most effective and compelling marketing ever made.
So why aren’t we making the most of it?
Most things are in place, but there is still one key piece of the puzzle missing.
The right content creation model. Established methods are not designed to create at the speed, scale and shape of the world today.
We call this the content dilemma.
We are continually torn between the tensions of volume, cost and quality.
Often we spend all our effort and money creating beautiful high quality, but inflexible assets for single channels – typically the perfect telly ad – which then misses creative opportunities in many other channels.
Or we go too far down the funnel and are simply churning out volumes of assets which fail to live up to creative potential of your brand.
The brand experience is the sum of the total content parts. As that experience continues to extend into more and more spaces, we need to work harder to make sure our brand shows up in the right way.
When we simply had to make for a couple of key channels that was a relatively simple task, but the ever expanding deliverables list means there are more and more places our brand must show up.
Our ability to create content fit for the modern age is holding back our marketing potential
The right content model can solve all of this
Realtime, Just-in-time: Many opportunities are time sensitive. Being reactive and responsive doesn’t work to 12 week SLAs. Having a content creation model that can react with agility when it’s needed means creating content on the right timeline, for as-and- when it’s needed. Minimum wastage, maximum relevancy.
Context-led Creative: Allowing marketers to marry medium and message, to deliver context and relevance. Using the right levels of DCO, creating the most flexible content toolkits, so that they can be activated in a wide range of channels and spaces quickly and effectively.
High Quality + Low Touch Production: More content could easily just mean more cost, but the toughest part of this challenge is the need to create more with less (or at least the same). Being able to ‘right-size’ the content creation approach for the brief is essential. But most importantly, lower touch and lower cost production still needs to be the right quality.
Data Driven Creativity: Putting audience insight and quality data at the heart of the entire process. Not just used to precision pester people into submission, it must be used to inform the strategy, the creative and the distribution. Creating work targeted to cohorts, brought to life with rich data.
Storytelling in Digital: Giving organisations the skills and setup to deliver brand storytelling in the modern media landscape. It’s an integral way for brands to express and ultimately sell themselves in every touchpoint. From social media posts, to display assets, to ecommerce copy, to CRM.
Making this happen: A blueprint for simple, bespoke, content studios
The answer to the above is to create bespoke content operations which are purpose-built to fit into an organisation and fill the content gap. The exact shape, setup and size of the team should vary based on the needs and nuances of the organization. But rather than reverting to old-fashioned roles, it boils down to four overarching roles that need to work together:
Inspire is the audience planning, strategy and insight factions that ensures that the right strategic and audience thinking flows through everything we do.
Deliver leans into a distributed organizational approach, blending on-site and off-shore talent along with smart technology driven tools to deliver the right production at the right cost, speed and quality. Creating toolkits and flexible asset systems that live beyond the single asset use.
Create requires a network of multi disciplined creative thinkers. Bringing together the right mix of specialists and generalists within a shared creative space and process to create at the speed of modern business.
Distribute requires the right capabilities and systems to make sure content plugs straight into the distribution model and that the right people see the right content. This can be ad-ops, can be community management, can be CMS frameworks, or DCO systems.
Data and Tech are key enablers connecting together each of these stages. They should help drive better thinking and better work, rather than be seen as ends in themselves.
If those are the building blocks, these are the principles in assembling together the perfect model:
• In-synch and at-tempo: every organization has a different tempo and way of working – it is only by learning and matching this that content creation can truly meet the needs of the client
• Bespoke and embedded: whether it’s physically embedded, or just dedicated roles, the model needs to be tailored to the specific needs of the client. Whether this is a global or local market, the category and marketing model, the setup of the organisation and the marketing they do
• Connected to something bigger: a bespoke model isn’t just left to its own devices. It needs to be part of a mothership. Connected to something bigger – bringing in fresh talent, fresh inspiration, offering up additional capabilities and support as and when required.
Agency, Studio, Factory, Hub – it doesn’t matter, the principles are the same
These can take a whole host of different names and nuances of structure. But ultimately, it’s about the principles and approach, more than what you call it.
It’s not just an evolution of the classic agency, it’s a revolution of mindset and approach
This doesn’t necessarily come easily -to work properly, it needs effort on all sides to make sure it embeds into the organisation. The muscle memory of the old ways can often crop up. It’s a continual process of adjustment and evolution. You don’t want to just launch and leave it, a landscape that continually evolves requires an agency that evolves with it.
Yet the rewards are enormous. Such a radical overhaul of marketing approach allows brands to chime with the behaviours of new and often younger audiences at every stage of their customer journey. It’s more satisfying for the creators, more relevant for the recipients, and spells more growth for the business. The new content landscape is an exciting place to be, but to live in it we need to embrace better content creation.