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The Insatiable Demand for Content

Tearle Calinog, Director of Client Engagement, SGK

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The shift to digital-first marketing has radically changed how consumers engage with brands. With new technologies showing up and showing off daily — and still others waiting in the wings — turning back is not an option, and going forward will pick up speed. 

Already it seems there are limitless points of connectivity between brands and those who buy and use them. This shift has led to a limitless thirst for relevant, meaningful, present-tense content. 

This environment we live in is powered by a need for "more." Consumers want more from content — not just in terms of quantity but in the quality of the content. Everyday users and influencers have the ability to create high-quality content via better technology on their phones and tablets. There's a desire for more personalized messaging; for a more seamless blend of experiences between the tangible world of time constraint and the digital world of "now"; an expectation for more interesting visual and verbal messaging; and the necessity for more consistency across all marketing communications, including editorial, product content, campaign, internal communications-everything that has anything to do with the brand.

More. Nothing less will do.

Get five lessons for creating content powerhouses:

LESSON

1

CREATIVE-LED HYPERCONNECTIONS.

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LESSON

1

CREATIVE-LED HYPERCONNECTIONS.

COLLAPSE  


We've entered into a new age of creative thinking and execution. Faster than ever before. Better. Stronger. Cheaper. "Mad Men" of past decades would have been a hell of a lot madder if they wanted to succeed in the environment that holds today's women and men of marketing communications.

From this day forward, content must be relevant, authentic, in-the-moment, consumer-first, creatively led, responsive, unexpected, disposable, eye- and mind-opening. It has to be hyper-connective, easily found and measurable. And from the get-go, content must be embedded with the intelligence needed to find its consumer through creative, data, coding and algorithms with the ease of social media.

Once in a while is not good enough. 24/7/365 is.

The nature and appetite for content today is putting massive pressure on the traditional advertising maxim of "the medium is the message."

LESSON

2

CONTENT IS THE MESSAGE.

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LESSON

2

CONTENT IS THE MESSAGE.

COLLAPSE  


Content was once the byproduct of a marketing strategy transformed into a creative strategy solved by an advertising campaign. Even the word campaign is no longer relevant. Content creation is. Content is driving. And "more" is better. Content creation and creative operations are what you need if your brand wants/needs to get to "more."

More brand content must be created with the ability to intelligently find its audience using the vision of creativity fused with the precision and speed of technology. Awareness fused with responsiveness works into this reality: Consumers increasingly control their content. So your brand's content must have the ability and agility to compete, interact and respond to open-sourced content. If not, the risk of being muted or irrelevant becomes a viable possibility in absolutely no time.

Our current and future reality: The industry we're in must create content that is organic with the ability to live, breath and react. To get there, we need to redefine our content creation strategy and redesign our creative operations. And before even thinking about those things, companies need to realize their current state:

  • ROI on content investment is significantly limited because the requirements and complexity of the end-to-end content supply chain are not well understood.
  • Quantifying and measuring investments in content is next to impossible because the decision process around content operations is so fragmented due to "hidden factories."
LESSON

3

WHAT'S NEW? PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING.

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Consumers have less patience and tolerance for weak messaging — it’s a brave new world. What to do in this brave new world? Be brave."

LESSON

3

WHAT'S NEW? PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING.

COLLAPSE  


Yesterday's success in content operations was defined by meeting two out of the three following requirements: volume, cost and quality. Now and from now on, simply meeting those requirements won't do. The only thing that will do is meeting all three of those requirements, and more, at a velocity that continues to accelerate.

In fact, no longer think of volume, cost and quality as three separate thoughts. Think of them as intertwined components of one thought.


Consumers want more: VR and 3D and AR and CGI and motion and imagery and voice recognition and hybrid mixes. Oh yeah, and while you're at it, deliver a consistent, high-quality, branded creative experience between all channels: digital, e-commerce, in-store, social. Consumers have less patience and tolerance for weak messaging — it's a brave new world. What to do in this brave new world? Be brave. 

Sometimes the best way to be brave is to become smarter. The smartest brand marketers understand that all these content types don't come with their own budget, and they don't get to be delivered at separate times. These aren't separate deliverables; they are variants of the same deliverable. Not only does your brand need a cohesive strategy, but the way you produce content needs to be strategic too. And you need to prove it works through ROI and ROE (E for engagement) measurements. Content budgets won't increase as fast as the demand, so brands will need to prioritize spend and get more content, or more impact out of a piece of content, for every dollar.

Many brands already have some semblance of a content creation operation, but often these well-meaning ops were designed as cost centers vs. relevant content centers of excellence ready to meet today's content velocity. These operations have legacy people, practices and tools that create sludge in the machine. Most are well intentioned, but the internal barriers and silos are real, limiting impact on the overall business and the ability to adapt to the demand for content today.

In order to evolve, you and your organization need to be brave enough to overhaul your operations, shatter those legacy practices, deconstruct legacy silos and replace legacy tools. Think overhaul, not tinkering, or you'll quickly find yourself in the same situation. In other words, you can do some bodywork on your sluggish used car, but you only have a sluggish used car that looks a little better. 

In some cases, marketers may only need to make some minor adjustments to professionalize the creative operations discipline. In other cases, completely tearing down and razing the factory is necessary in order to compete today and tomorrow. You may find yourself having to blend disciplines from areas of your organization that traditionally lived, worked and hid in silos — working towards individual disciplinary or unit goals, not linked together under a common strategy.

LESSON

4

PULL THE PLUG ON HIDDEN FACTORIES.

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LESSON

4

PULL THE PLUG ON HIDDEN FACTORIES.

COLLAPSE  


Simply put, hidden factories are unmanaged, uncoordinated production lines that are not integrated into a broader plan and are out of view of senior leaders. In some cases, hidden factories are well-established and highly evolved bottlenecks. They become institutionalized phenomena that quietly take over.

It goes something like this: Those people and their processes over there do that thing pretty well, so let's leave them alone to do that. And these people over here do this thing pretty well, so let's leave them alone to do this. And while everyone is working away doing this and that, redundant work is happening, tools are built or bought, workarounds become the SOP, and content creation is slowed down and expensive.

The concept of "hidden factories" dates back to the early 1980s, and even though it started in manufacturing, it applies to many industries. Specifically, hidden factories adhere to and survive on inefficient processes, structures and organizations in a business. While they still provide an output or service, it is usually at the expense of integrated productivity, time, effort and quality.

Learn how to identify and remove content-creation barriers. Watch our webinar, "In Today's Content Environment: 'Hidden Factories' Undermind Success."

Watch Webinar


Change is difficult. But rapid change in the content ecosystem is required. We all know it is.

Those who move changes forward in the area of content creation will no doubt encounter resistance due to these misconceptions:

Full-scale change must happen all once

Data and metrics are only used to data-shame

Providing business frameworks and using metrics around creative teams will destroy creative thinking

This is not my responsibility


These are all normal reactions. But it is important to remind your organization that change can happen incrementally. Of utmost importance, realize that change begins with having an open mind for the kind of change necessary to meet the demand for content is a single step in the journey. To those who are creative, this is a true example of the creative process-iterate, improve or die.

It's a creative process that we must live by and must not resist.
 

Change begins with having an open mind for the kind of change necessary to meet the demand for content."

LESSON

5

FROM HIDDEN FACTORIES TO A POWERHOUSE.

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LESSON

5

FROM HIDDEN FACTORIES TO A POWERHOUSE.

COLLAPSE  


In order to adapt to the breakneck speed and need for rapidly evolving content creation, brand marketers need to dismantle the hidden factories and begin to formalize a newly defined creative operations discipline.

To be successful and prepare for the changes of tomorrow, creative operations must be managed with a strong framework of:

  • business fundamentals

  • business intelligence

  • data analytics discipline

  • nontraditional content creation functions

  • coding/development

  • AI experts

  • digital content strategists

These can never work alone. When they work together, when they work under one philosophical and sometimes one physical roof, they work as a content creation powerhouse.

WHERE TO BEGIN.

Every situation is unique, so don't expect a one-size-fits-all solution. Begin with the following guidelines, which may seem obvious but in most cases are overlooked or may seem difficult to embrace. If you don't begin now, someone else will most likely drive this change for you. 

  • Cultivate self-awareness.
  • Embrace change.
  • Quantify the subjective.
  • Leave no stone unturned.

Cultivate self-awareness.

Take a big gulp and be ready to admit that you may not be as good at content as you think. Be ready to accept that your organization may not fully understand the current-day process requirements. Yes, content is critical today, but until you figure out why you stink at it, you'll never get anywhere even though you are running harder.

Embrace change.

Identify your leaders who will be key drivers of change, who are savvy enough to drive culture change and mind-shift. Empathizing and listening to those who may feel threatened will go a long way. While consensus sounds effective, it often impedes progress. Incremental wins will ultimately set the example and be more effective. 

Quantify the subjective.

Data and analytics will be a key foundation to enabling your transformation while future-proofing your operation for the changes of tomorrow. You need to start somewhere and begin establishing a framework and methodology for data and analytics and defining KPIs. Yes, the data may be imperfect at first, but you'll continue learning what does and doesn't work. In the end, data will be a tool to identify some of your hidden factories and quantify their impact. As your data methodology evolves, it will become a powerful tool to determine how to maximize ROI on content spend, which channels you should use to distribute your content, and how much cost and resources should be allocated per unit of content. At a peak operating level, you'll be able to use data to understand when the time and cost invested in an individual piece of content far outweighs the benefit to the consumer-and that the consumer may benefit more if you reallocate that spend to R&D, creative operations, etc.

Leave no stone unturned.

To make this critical leap, you will need to evaluate every part of your organization-organizational structure and functions, processes, technology, spaces, equipment, talent and talent development, data, finance, reporting, recruiting ….

These guidelines paired with a strong strategy and goals should get you down the right path. Partner with those who have experienced this change. Start with SGK, who has partnered with brands and organizations on this journey and is open to discussing experiences and best practices.

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All that’s needed is the glue to hold things together — a better, faster, stronger, newer glue called creative operations.

 

All that’s needed is the glue to hold things together — a better, faster, stronger, newer glue called creative operations.

Benefits of creating a content powerhouse.

Identifying and addressing hidden factories will position your organization to succeed in today's content environment. It will enable you to take the next step to creating a formalized creative operations discipline, future-proofed for the changes that are here right now and won't slow down as tomorrow and every tomorrow after that gets closer. 

With the right business principles, data/analytics and process framework, creative operations will be better positioned to articulate its value to the business while allowing your creative, production and technology teams to focus on the content.

Marketing will always be a blend of art and science. The time for science is here.

But we have to be diligent in our desire to let those who create continue to create more. At the same time, those who master the science have a pivotal role in driving your content operations. All that's needed is the glue to hold things together-a better, faster, stronger, newer glue called creative operations. Creative operations will need the systems and processes necessary to help quantify the subjective in order to make better business decisions for the business.

Don't ignore it, side-step it, bypass it, save it until later or pretend it isn't there.

 

Create it. And then create everything you can for your brand.

Learn More

Give consumers continuous brand engagement across every channel. Watch our webinar, "In Today's Content Environment: 'Hidden Factories' Undermine Success."

Watch Webinar