Who owns the content strategy process within a company? Technically this answer should be a no brainer: Marketing does, of course. But in truth it is more complicated than that. Consider the example of an automobile manufacturer and the journey its customers are on. It is a fairly complex journey that tends to be longer and more nurturing, with many different touchpoints along the way. Content must be developed for each of these customer touchpoints—content that can range from inspiring and day-dreaming inducing videos to tangible and practical reasons why they should consider purchasing the car.
Then—hurray!—the sale has been made. But the customer journey isn't complete; it now includes interacting with the service department. Sales is still part of the mix as the customer is a prospect for future purchases or leasing. So again we ask, who owns this process? Is the answer still marketing? Because it is equally clear that sales has a stake in the content as does service.
Now go back to the above example and erase the word automotive and replace it with your own industry. Because in truth, a content strategy can be just as complex for the same reasons across multiple sectors of the economy. According to Jamie Posnanski, head of digital content for Accenture Interactive one of the first challenges when helping a customer with its content marketing strategy is identifying who owns it.
“You get into scenarios where there are different groups within an organization—whether that is marketing, or a creative services group within an organization, customer support or some other customer-facing operation, or corporate communications—all of whom will tell that they own the content strategy for the organization,” he says.
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The Case For Marketing
It is true that the most logical department for content strategy is marketing, says Brian Carlson, president of Carlson Consulting Services and former Second Vice President of Content Marketing for Traveler’s Insurance. “In most companies, in fact, the marketing department owns the content strategy. They are the outward facing people, they are talking to the customer in a tone and format that makes sure the company’s needs are put together into an overarching content strategy that serves that whole business and is essentially user facing," he says.
That said, there is a rationale for having content strategy in another place, Carlson continues. “Let’s say, for example, that you’re in a medical organization and there are a lot of scientists doing very technical writing. It may make sense to have a content strategy within a more technical team like that, depending on the material that they are producing.”
A Multi-Unit Group Takes Shape
One way to settle the matter is to ask which group is in the best position to create the content that will resonate and work most effectively with the customer throughout the sales cycle, Posnanski says. Again, marketing gets a plug—with Posnanski noting that they do have a very good perspective on who that customer is but, he adds that there is no one size fits all answer. “I can’t say that in every case marketing should own the content strategy because in some cases, marketing may have a very transactional notion of how they are converting their audiences and not necessarily thinking about the full life cycle of a customer experience or what happens post-sale," he says.
Here is what is key according to Posnanski, that you are able to tie marketing’s perspective about their customers into the customers’ experience with the customer’s use of the product and how they’re interacting with the service departments and whether they continue to be pleased with their product. “This is where it generally falls down and people aren’t either tracking that or haven’t connected that,” he says.
Of course there is no rule that only one department can own the content strategy—a company could create a structure in which the content creation and management strategy stretches across marketing, sales and service with content as its overriding goal. If this is to be the case, Posnanski says, you have to be prepared to bring all the groups to the table and get them to agree on how they will drive and manage the content strategy overall.
Also key to this structure: a chief experience officer or chief content officer who can own and oversee the process from start to finish. “He or she takes stewardship for ensuring that the company is connecting and driving a content strategy across all of those groups and the full experience,” he says.