Marketers: We struggle to get internal buy-in for branded content

Many brands have become obsessed with content marketing as traditional advertising loses its effectiveness. But doing it well is hard for brands that are rooted in that very same traditional advertising. Brand marketers descended on NewsCred’s #ThinkContent Summit Thursday to wrestle with the issues. We rounded up some attendees and asked them a simple question: What’s the biggest thing holding back content marketing?

Tomas Kellner, managing editor, GE
There is so much talk about content marketing, but I don’t think people necessarily understand what it is. They think about it in terms of pure marketing and advertising, which it’s not. If you want to do advertising, buy an ad. It’s not communications, either, it’s storytelling. Telling a story that has a protagonist, a conflict, a challenge and an outcome. And having internal buy-in to tell stories that sound real is the biggest challenge that I encounter. Where the quotes don’t seem stilted and artificial; they move the story ahead. I actually go around the company and do workshops with employees. If there’s one thing I want to leave behind, it’s a team of people spread out around the world who know how to write a story. Then you can start feeding the machine and really produce quality content. That’s the material you need to start to build everything around — distribution, strategic goals, conversion.

Luke Kintigh, global content & media strategist, Intel
You have way more supply than demand for content today. It’s really hard to find that unique point of view that can break through the noise. It’s going to become a bigger deal as we move to this world where everyone’s a publisher and there’s a mass amount of content being published. It’s going to force publishers to be more niche. On the distribution side, you’re going to have to have people who understand distribution and how to promote and distribute content. There’s going to be more platforms, and fragmentation’s going to be even worse than it is today.

Rob Manker, content marketing manager, ConAgra
I’m a former Chicago Tribune journalist, and I’m applying it to marketing. But this is a fairly new culture within a business that traditionally has been an advertising-driven environment. I think the two need to work together. But at the end of the day, it is a question of resources. We’re very fortunate that we have our CMO’s support.

Babs Rangaiah, vp, global new media ventures, Unilever
It’s completely reframing a process that’s been for a long time based on interruptive brand advertising to one based on engagement. It’s organizational, it’s financial, creating a lot of assets. It’s a completely different process. This kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight. It’s more about the how as opposed to the why.

Shannon Doung, director of e-commerce, L’Oréal, Body Shop
Resources. It’s a challenge to have young people come on board and talk in our brand voice when that hasn’t been defined by our brand leadership. And to put ROI against social media has been challenging for us.

Gundeep Dhillon, vp, worldwide marketing programs, SAP
I run The Customer Edge, a digital magazine. It has a solid reputation; we have to figure out how to take it to the next level. We’ve got strategy and content creation pretty well covered. My biggest challenge is, we are trying to figure out distribution. The objectives of the marketing organization are not set up around the distribution of content marketing. It’s set up around demand generation.

Jen Boyles, content strategy director, Olson Minneapolis
I was a journalist for 15 years, and my biggest challenge is that mindset where brands put the kibosh on getting a little too far out of their comfort zone. I have to do a lot of convincing that this is something they should invest in. A lot of brands put their products first. They don’t think like the consumer; they just think of the bottom line.

David Burgess, president, digital agency Ayima
Legal teams can get in the way of what we want to say [for clients who are established companies]. We’re up against agile competitors who can be more ballsy. We have a set of guidelines that we can’t cross.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.