I’ve been a bit slow off the mark this New Year and hope everyone is already blazing into 2013. I haven’t been idle on my break however, as I’ve spent a lot of time assessing where my experience and value fits in the region. I’ve done this to understand how I can achieve more of my professional goals and make a real contribution in Asia Pacific.
One area I’ve been thinking a lot about over the last month is where Asia Pacific is in regards to readiness for content marketing? My conclusion is – not very far along at all. Everyone is talking about the need to do more content – launching a blog, creating more long-form-high-value content, etc… but not many are actually executing. As a person who has built a business around this field, it has obviously been frustrating.
However, one conclusion seems clear. The significant challenge faced in Asia is a shortage of skills and knowledge. Content marketing (or Inbound Marketing) is a new way of thinking about marketing. It’s got nothing to do with what a company wants to tell the world and everything to do with what the customer needs to know to help them be more successful in whatever field they are in – right across the board.
Essentially, content marketing is a requirement for businesses to become publishing houses for their customers, which means presenting stories that will make their customers more successful, and by default, loyal. This is not a new thing, with some of the global giants committed to the story telling path – Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Red Bull, SAP, Cisco, Intel, HSBC, and more. Here’s a blog on the Inc. 500 fastest growing companies and the content marketing focus.
It’s a dramatic change in mindset and we have a long way to go in Asia Pacific – but it‘s a very worthwhile path for organisations to take, and in the age of social media, it’s also vital. To address this challenge, the most important asset a company needs internally is someone who can manage an effective content marketing campaign – and that’s what we don’t have. We have people who’ve done marketing or PR the old way, but new marketing requires a complete change in mind set. Check out Hubspot’s “8 Ready Made Job Descriptions to Recruit an All Star Marketing Team.”
The most important skill this person needs? The ability to understand customers – what drives them, what information they need, their buying cycle, their pain points, what they care about, and so on. If you don’t understand what motivates and drives customers, the effort will be wasted – and it is a lot of effort.
Once you have the person who has this important skill and understanding of customers, they need to drive content creation across the organisation – whether it’s internal creation or outsourcing it to professionals. Insourcing or outsourcing is both do-able, (although check out this Hubspot blog on insourcing versus outsourcing) but it is an internal and talented communications professional, who has a real understanding of your customers, that is best suited to drive this function.
The sort of activities they’ll manage include creating the content publishing schedule, defining the educational themes to wrap your stories around, managing the writers and digital content creators, launching and managing the corporate blog, positively inspiring internal customer-facing champions to contribute to the campaign, running brain-storming workshops with executives and sales, finding content everywhere in the organisation and re-purposing it, capturing and building out stories shared over innocent conversations during coffee breaks, and so on. That is the difference between everyone in Asia wanting to do content marketing, and actually doing it successfully – a single person who really gets that core understanding of customers and of course, they have to be an excellent communicator and story teller as well.
I’m seeing a lot of companies in Asia start and fail, which is a shame because it makes them tentative to try again. But get that person on board who can really make this happen, and then we’ll see some magic. I can’t wait because I know that time is coming.
What do you think is lacking in Asia that is contributing to such limited success in content marketing? Or do you know of any local success stories that are worth sharing?
PS I’ve included a bunch of links here to previous SAJE blogs, as well as industry blogs on the topic. I share great articles across the spectrum of content marketing on the SAJE Facebook page – like it if you’re interested in this topic. We’re just sharing here, nothing for sale.