Content is a business asset – and to leverage it, you need the ability to adapt it
When drilled down to the fundamentals, the job of any field marketer is a simple one: to ensure that customers have the right information at the right time to help them along the journey to purchase.
Companies that are best equipped to provide that information tend to be better at garnering trust, increasing customer loyalty, and boosting sales. So when it comes to sales growth, this information (your content) can mean the difference between success and failure.
92% of marketers say that their company regards content as a business asset. When something is deemed valuable to your business, you want to have more of it. As such, it comes as no surprise that last year, more than half of businesses reported that they intend to increase their content management spend and output.
The practicalities involved in creating multiple, compelling, and revenue-generating campaigns are such that your organization is probably creating more content than ever. The growth of multi-channel marketing is one of the biggest drivers of this: in all likelihood, you are seeking to build a presence across multiple platforms – each of which needs to be ‘fed’ with a steady stream of fresh content.
Behind every successful brand, there is usually a strong, universally-applicable central brand message. However, for that message to hit home with customers, it may need to be tweaked: hence the need for localized adaptation and other forms of content customization. For those teams within your organization who are responsible for content creation, having to handle content adaptation also effectively means a greater content production burden.
So, what’s the best way to handle this? We would suggest that there are two areas to focus on
First off, it involves setting up a central bank of content assets, easily accessible to field marketers.
Secondly, you need tools in place to enable those teams to create specific, locally-adapted marketing materials with ease, while still adhering to brand guidelines.
In this guide, we will show you how to pursue an adapted content strategy – with a view to leveraging content to maximize sales growth. In it, we cover the following:
- When to use adaptable content
- Are we staying consistent? The potential pitfalls of adapting your content
- Your essential toolkit for adapting content and driving growth
Part 1: Here’s when you need adaptable content…
Adapted content essentially refers to taking a marketing or sales content asset (or multiple assets) and using this as a template or foundation to create customized pieces of work as part of your sales and marketing strategies.
There are some very solid business reasons for taking this approach. These reasons are both customer-focused – concerned with delivering the best possible experience to actual and potential customers; and operational – linked to optimizing your workflow and making the best use of your resources.
We need to manage increasing volumes of content
When a locally-focused campaign gets off the ground, the first hurdle for any field marketer to overcome involves grabbing the attention of the prospect.
Let’s say you have sought to establish your presence in a particular location – precisely because you consider it to be ripe for development. Even in the absence of a lot of competitors, it still takes an average of 5-7 brand impressions to gain a foothold of consumer ‘mind space’. This is just the start: beyond it, you still need to build trust and cement your brand proposition. There is also a need to create fresh content optimized for specific platforms and channels: something that’s especially true if you are following recognized social media best practice – which suggests that you need to post on most social media platforms at least daily in order to keep up follower engagement levels.
If you are doing all of this from scratch instead of taking an adapted content approach, your marketing and design departments can soon become overwhelmed by sheer volume.
We want to boost sales in multiple locations
‘Localization’ as a marketing strategy is a response to the genuine differences that can exist between geographical regions. Research shows that 80% of marketers consider localization essential for entering new markets – and 71% of the same marketers say that sales increase in their target markets as a result of using this strategy.
Source – shutterstock
Culture, context, priorities, and customer expectations: these can all vary – to a greater or lesser extent – depending on the location of your customers. To reflect this and to maximize the prospects of sales success across a range of markets, you need to optimize your content. Among other things, this regional-specific optimization may involve modifying language, tone, and emphasis of sales copy, imagery, and layout.
As a rule, modified content means having to produce more content – because each location needs its own portfolio of material that is specific to that market. It makes sense to have a central bank of assets that can be altered and optimized for each market. As we will see, it also makes sense if this adaptation process is carried out by marketers in the field.
Research shows that 80% of marketers consider localization essential for entering new markets – and 71% of the same marketers say that sales increase in their target markets as a result of using this strategy.
We want field sales staff to be more proactive in content creation
Let’s say that your B2B finance software package incorporates automatic governance report creation. A significant regulatory change is announced in one of your target regions. Reps suddenly find themselves fielding queries on whether the report modelling function covers this change. It does – and your reps are keen to get this message across in all sales emails, banner ads, social posts, and brochures. They want to do this as soon as possible to stay ahead of the competition.
As a field marketer, you try to keep your ear to the ground, most notably through social listening and keyword research, to keep track of what’s most relevant to your target audience. However, it is often sales reps in the field who are most in tune with changing customer concerns. It pays to listen to them.
Recent research suggests that just 35% of sales staff think that their marketing department knows what content they need to close deals. Adapted content can help you close this gap. In particular, if salespeople are able to tweak and adapt content themselves – swiftly and without specialist technical input – it can mean that your content is more closely attuned to the concerns of your customers at all times.
We want to take advantage of lucrative, time-limited, media space offers
Why are the very best billboard, online banner spaces, and partner marketing slots all so expensive? Quite simply, it’s because they are most likely to boost the bottom line of whoever manages to secure them.
A lot of planning goes into a typical marketing campaign. And, of course, much of the publication schedule is worked out well in advance: something that’s especially true with paid media exposure. That said, a little flexibility can serve you well.
Lucrative slots can – and frequently do – become available at short notice. Paid media opportunities that you previously considered financially out of reach may suddenly present themselves to you at a bargain price. The chance to boost your exposure (and, by extension, to drive sales growth) may seem too good to pass up; even if this involves departing slightly from your original plans.
Taking advantage of such opportunities requires the ability to act quickly, as it is unlikely that you had the resources to devote to creating a whole series of extra advertisements “just in case” a slot becomes available when the initial campaign was created. However, if you have a bank of adaptable content at your fingertips it means that if an opportunity does present itself, you are able to produce an item tailored to the specific opportunity quickly – and to do this before that opportunity expires.
We want to deploy our design and creative resources to maximize sales growth
Depending on the type of marketing asset in question, there are likely to be multiple individuals and skillsets involved in its creation: graphic designers, copywriters, developers, user experience (UX) specialists, SEO analysts and project managers – to name just a few.
All of these resource categories have at least two things in common: they are all focused on adding value to your organization, and they all have a finite capacity. To reflect these two realities, the bulk of their time needs to be spent in areas where it is going to have maximum impact – content origination and strategy. It is highly unlikely that this means a constant roll-out of small content tweaks for multiple campaigns and markets.
Part 2: Are we staying consistent? The biggest adapted content pitfalls you need to avoid
Where brands are presented in a consistent manner, they are three to four times more likely to experience visibility compared to those companies that fail to optimize for consistent messaging. The same research shows how this can directly impact sales growth, indicating that the average revenue increase linked to brand consistency is 23%.
If your central message is subject to frequent change, or if there is a failure to retain the core elements of your brand across all of the channels where your company has a presence, customers are likely to get confused.
This becomes a very real threat in the context of field marketers making adaptations to existing content. Here’s why:
Ideally, your methods of content adaptation should make it possible for field marketers, sales reps, and lots of other individuals from across your organization to use brand assets to create fresh content. However, in attempting to make the message more relevant, there is always a risk that the people adapting the content will divert too far from your core message. You need to have safeguards in place so that your people have leeway to make changes to assets while staying within set parameters.
Use of third parties for content production
Ideally, greater use of content that has been created to be adaptable will speed up the content production process, as non-skilled members of your team will be better equipped to make changes without technical input. This makes it less likely that field marketers will need to engage agencies to produce work solely to clear a production backlog. However, there may still be good reasons for instructing an agency, such as where the task requires technical input that is missing from your design department. For this, you should have clear guidelines in place so that the agency is always able to abide by your brand standards.
With all of this in mind, let’s look at the processes and tools to deploy to implement adaptable content, while still ensuring consistency.
The creation of content to drive sales should not be regarded as the sole responsibility of your creative and design teams.
Part 3: Your toolkit for adaptable content, consistency and sales growth
Establish a culture of content adaptation
If sales reps believe that an email or banner ad could be improved to meet the changing priorities of customers, then what’s stopping them from making those changes themselves? The adaptation of content to drive sales should not be regarded as the sole responsibility of your creative and design teams.
As a field marketer, this has the potential to make the task of adapting content a lot more straightforward. It means you can make changes to content swiftly to meet shifting local priorities without having to wait for feedback from HQ. An additional benefit of this is that the adaptation of content no longer has to be the sole domain of marketers. Notably, the sales reps at local branch level almost certainly know the customers in their specific locations better than anyone else. It makes sense to give them the encouragement to get directly involved in the content adaptation process.
In addition, if a paid media opportunity arises at short notice, this approach means you can respond quickly – before the opportunity expires.
Seek access to a library of core assets
If the materials you adapt are going to be effective at cutting through to your target market, you need the right ‘raw materials’ to help you adapt them.
From case studies to conference brochures, your core brand assets are the building blocks for all of the content you need to support sales. Key components of your asset library include the following:
- Brand guidelines: This comprises the rulebook to be followed by everyone involved in content production and sign-off. It includes instructions relating to layout, font sizes, language, and tone.
- Key texts and design elements. These are the elements of brand presentation that need to remain in place in all instances. Examples might include straplines, corporate information, and disclaimers.
These assets can change over time. You need an effective way of knowing you have access to the right assets, which brings us to this:
Set up a brand portal
As a field marketer, you and your marketing team, sales staff, agencies, and everyone else involved in the content production and adaptation process need to be able to act with confidence. Specifically, this means being able to get their hands on the right materials, safe in the knowledge they are using the correct versions in the right way. This is where a brand portal comes in: a central, yet remotely accessible, location for all your brand elements that also has brand compliance control. Your teams can act, safe in the knowledge that HQ remains in control of what is and is not included in the portal, thereby significantly decreasing the likelihood that there could be any off-brand messages in the content process. In other words, they can get on with adapting compelling, locally-relevant content, safe in the knowledge that they are still abiding by the brand rulebook.
Make sure your teams are equipped for easy, rapid content creation
Effective local branch management involves continued optimization of the core business activities you are involved with on the ground. Where you have identified tools and processes that have the potential to make these activities more efficient, it is worth flagging these up with HQ.
For field marketing managers, one such area involves the implementation of a ‘self-service’ approach to content creation. Access to assets is one part of this, as part of the brand portal.
Templating tools are the other part of it. To maximize efficiency when it comes to content creation, look for tools with the following functionality:
Ease of search
Users ought to be able to scan through large volumes of content to quickly identify a template for the piece of content they wish to create.
Ease of resizing
Layout issues provide some of the trickiest problems to solve for non-technical staff. The tool should be able to handle this seamlessly for your users.
Editing according to set rules
Users should be able to edit some or all of the copy according to predetermined rules that are set by you. This functionality is especially important for ensuring that key brand standards are adhered to – and that local campaigns do not divert from the central messages you want to get across in your globally applicable campaigns.
Ease of sign-off
Complete content should be either capable of being published directly – or else forwarded through to a manager through a dedicated content management system for sign-off.
A single solution
As we’ve seen, it’s common for organizations to have a footprint across a wide range of content channels. Potentially, this may involve having to invest in templating tools in addition to template creation.
Fortunately, with Brandgility, your company has a powerful templating platform for all of your adaptable marketing materials. This includes web banners, social media, e-commerce, landing pages, digital displays, point of sale and retail displays, spec sheets, and paid media.
Brandgility is also easy to use. As a field marketer, this gives you the ability to create your own adapted local variants of your main campaigns with just a few clicks – and with no specialist technical input needed. To discover how Brandgility can transform your customized and localized content production processes, speak to Elateral today.
Read our free white paper on how to get consumers choosing your brand at the bar
Learn how brands are creating category uplift through influencing consumer choice at venues.