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Rolling your content strategy out to markets that transcend borders requires a good strategy. Many companies have a content strategy, but when you ask them if they also have a global content strategy only few will answer “yes”. And that is a mistake. A global content strategy differs from a local one in the way that it incorporates things like change management, scale and localization.
Some challenges organizations face, when rolling inbound marketing campaigns out into new markets, are that people in different countries speak different languages, are part of different cultures, or don’t prioritize budget and resources equally.
So how do you solve these challenges? You create a holistic idea that is strict enough to ensure good collaboration and carry out your strategy – an idea flexible enough to encompass differences. Sounds easy? It is not.
The strategic advisor and research analyst Rebecca Lieb suggests that there are three main categories of challenges when rolling content marketing out onto a global stage; people, processes, and technology. In this blogpost, I am going to take a dive into what these challenges may look like, and provide you with some best practices to take into account when you create your global content strategy.
People involved in your content marketing strategy
The number one rule in content marketing is that companies should stop thinking of themselves as an entity selling a product or service. Instead they should think of themselves as experts in a certain field, that happen to sell a product or service. That applies to local organizations that do content marketing, but when expanding to new markets, that point becomes even more important.
Content marketing doesn’t work if all you do is talk about how your products or services can help the potential customer. You need to help people by giving advice that goes beyond that, and all departments in your organization need to understand this and buy in to it. This is a corner stone of your content strategy, and you need to create a culture around this.
Gather your people around content creation and make sure you have a dedicated team for content in each marketing department. Don’t force things on people. We humans don’t want to take on things imposed on us – change requires dialogue, so make sure there is a team of content leaders to take care of the dialogue. Create buy-in and evangelists lead by your content leaders. These leaders should:
- Explain to your people WHY they need to help creating content
- Articulate and demonstrate WIIFM (what’s in it for me?), both bottom-up and top-down
- Commit to ongoing cross-functional evangelism, support, communication and optimization
- Constantly reinforce the value of content initiatives with data (ex. improved sales, brand lift etc.)
Chief Content Officer (CCO)
I previously said you need to have a holistic idea to work from. Therefore, it may not come as a surprise when I say you need a centralized Chief Content Officer - CCO to create and maintain the overall strategy and the processes that follow this strategy. The key responsibilities of the CCO are:
- Creation of a content strategy
- Implementation of processes and infrastructure
- Coordination across departments, building ownership
- Identifying gaps, needs and opportunities; nurture creative talent and content-centric mindsets
Not all employees will or should be content creators, but you should encourage and empower all employees to be content identifiers – those who identify relevant topics to create content about. For this to happen, you need to make them understand the value of content. Therefore, you need to make sure to:
- Offer training and education
- Demonstrate the value of content with examples of proven results
- Welcome feedback from employees
Here at Avidly we have operationalized this by dedicating time to education for each employee every month, by celebrating results on weekly virtual meetings, having a feedback culture where feedback is encouraged – not only top down, but also bottom up.
Furthermore, we have a center of excellence, where employees can share and ask for best practices and tips across all departments. We also arrange monthly training sessions for any employee interested. Our best practices when dealing with people are:
- Create a change management plan
- Consider that there might be different understandings of content in different cultures
- Provide training and encourage evangelization
- Have a team of leaders that can support employees
- Structure a team around content creation
Processes of how to work with your international marketing team
Processes involve several tactical elements – they get content done. Some of the elements imply tools, technology, workflow and governance documents, editorial calendars, editing guidelines, metrics and analytics, as well as well-defined roles and responsibilities.
Processes also involve training, education and evangelization. While these processes are important for all businesses, they are important to think about on a strategic level when expanding to new markets.
Again, buy in from all your departments is crucial. If your people don’t adopt the processes, there is no point creating them, and collaboration between your teams will be unnecessarily tough.
As mentioned before, if you want to create a culture, you must create a story about the reality in which the culture exists. That reality is your process. It is HOW you do things and WHY you do them.
It taps into what we described in the above: The buy-in and evangelism, and it is highly related to technology as well. Here are what we consider to be the best practices when developing your processes:
- Be proactive rather than reactive
- Use editorial calendars and workflows
- Make sure that communication and collaboration works
- Create a solid ecosystem with partners and agencies
- Make sure to dedicate enough resources
- Make sure to comply with local laws
Technology that enables working across borders
Marketing has become a technology-driven discipline. Aside from that, the way we communicate has been transformed to become technologically driven. Technology’s role in an organization should enable, centralize, streamline and optimize processes, whether is it communication, gathering insights or executing your activities.
Needless to say, you need a tool stack that is larger than your current setup. When choosing your tool stack, make sure that the tools are compatible across all countries of operation or considering. Consider language versions, local laws etc.
In your tool stack you should consider how you enable your teams to collaborate, share ideas and content, and how they should communicate. The latter is perhaps one of the most important modes of technology in international business and includes electronic communication such as emails, chat systems, and virtual conferences, just to name a few.
Furthermore, you should have tools that enable your organization to measure your activities and give the teams a good way of analyzing data. Measuring and reporting results motivates your team and proves your ROI.
Our best practices in terms of technology are to:
- Make sure your platforms are streamlined and scalable
- Make sure you have the right tools that enable collaboration, sharing, and communication
- Think about communication across time zones and regions
- Use tools that enable you to measure and report results
- Use tools that help you automate repeatable processes