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April 30, 2014

9 Key Change Management Essentials for Epic Content Marketing

by Tom De Baere
change management essentials for content marketing

What change is needed in an organization to be successful with content marketing?

Answering todays marketing challenges is a daunting task for most of us.

Not only is marketing increasingly becoming a digital environment, marketing itself is changing. Buyers demand value on top of existing products and services. They want you to inspire them, educate them, and entertain them.

Embracing a content marketing culture is the first step towards becoming a social business. It is the first step to creating marketing that people actually want.

It requires great, or small changes, depending on your current corporate culture:

  • from outbound to inbound
  • from self-centric to meaningful
  • from classic to digital
  • from art to science

Here are some of the key change management essential ingredients you need to take into account when changing a company towards a content marketing culture:

  1. assess your marketing maturity
  2. corporate and leadership alignment
  3. embed openness and authenticity
  4. embrace new customer centric processes
  5. employee activation and skills transfer
  6. internal communication
  7. quick-wins planning
  8. content quality gate-keeping
  9. embedding the change

1. Assess your marketing maturity

Successful brands are meaningful, different, and noticeable.

Investigate to what extend you are using online and offline marketing today to be such a successful brand. It will give you an idea of  “Where do I start” in making the change.

Look at everything you got:Where do you start with content marketing

  • marketing systems
  • websites
  • communication channels
  • content and its performance
  • online & offline events
  • online and offline advertising
  • independent organization leverage
  • the organization structure
  • workflows and marketing processes
  • external agencies
  • corporate culture
  • measurement & KPI’s
  • buyer insight
  • SEO strategy
  • digital, social and content skillset
  • reporting lines and governance structures

Based on this assessment, you’ll better understand what changes you need to make. And the road you need to cover might be very long. That’s OK. Rome was also not built in one day.

Create your change roadmap, and work it from there.

2. Corporate and leadership alignment

Show leadership what is needed for content marketing changeConsumers and businesses today buy different. The are less and less influenced in their buying behavior by advertising. They are influenced by who they talk to, online and offline, and what information comes to them through the internet and social media.

You understand that.

Your leadership might not understand this, yet. Or they might see it, but not fully grasp what the organization is to do.

It requires for them to understand that a cultural change will be required. It requires for them to understand that a new type of mindset will be required:

  • helping customers instead of selling
  • listening to customers instead of talking
  • educating customers instead of spin
  • all employees communicate, not just marketing
  • transparency instead of image building
  • set key content free instead of hiding it for customers

How do you do that? Show them!

  • Show them the world has changed.
  • Show them customers buy different, also in your industry.
  • Show them advertising doesn’t work anymore.
  • Show them your customers are active on social media.
  • Show them that the buying process of customers has changed
  • Show them customers seek answers, not interruption
  • Show them what change is required.

3. Embed authenticity and openness

trust is needed for content marketingCorporate marketing is often a watchdog that checks every piece of content that goes out.

Marketers are reviewing, editing and changing every piece of content that is created to make it as positive for the company as possible. Marketers and product managers want their products to shine. Every opportunity they see is used to promote products or services.


Customers are not interested in your products. The only thing they care about is value. What’s in it for them? If you can show that, you are in business.

The problem is that customers don’t trust marketing anymore. Because marketing (and sales for that matter) has been spinning their minds. Because marketing has been making products shine brighter than they actually are.

That’s why authenticity and openness needs to get back into marketing and communications:

  • let your experts talk
  • let your ambassadors talk
  • give them a voice and a face
  • give them trust that they know what to do
  • bring internal stories to the outside world
  • remove any sales intention

With this, you are introducing a true mindset of wanting to help customers through marketing and communication.

4. Embrace new customer centric processes

customer centric processes for content marketingThis is simple as a thought, but difficult to get right. If you want to position your marketing as meaningful to the business of customers, you will need to understand what is meaningful to your customers.

For that you need buyer insight. Content marketing has many tools for that in place, like buyer personas, market insight maps, pain based segmentation, buyer purchase scenario building etc.

The most difficult part is listening to customers. This has to be done in a formal and orchestrated manner, across the complete organization:

  • peers listen to peers
  • formal “listening output” reporting
  • aligning business issues of customers with possible meaningful marketing
  • and finally aligning content with your business objectives.

Once you’ve done all of that, you have a content marketing strategy.

5. Employee activation and Skills transfer

how to activate employees for content marketingOften employee activation is considered the most difficult part of implementing change.

How do you persuade your employees to contribute with ideas, creation of content, distribution and amplification of content? The easiest way to do that is start with those who are already willing to contribute. Call them early adopters. Next to that you’d want to assemble a “coalition of the willing”: people with key influencing power within the organization that want to work with you on this change.

Remove any barriers that people see:

  • no time to contribute: give them time
  • no idea how to contribute: explain and train them how they can contribute
  • no writing skills: have others write for them with their input
  • no ideas: talk to them about what they are working on
  • not willing to cooperate: you don’t need them, for now.

6. Internal Communication

A key component in change management is communication. In this case, internal communication.

Do this about why this change is needed, why new ways of working are needed. And when new processes, workflow, tools, and project milestones are implement, communicate about that.

And when the first results are visible, communicate about that. Use the intranet, internal info sessions and news bulletins if needed.

7. Quick-Wins Planning

Change that takes too long without visible results is quickly demotivating people that need to make the change happen.

That’s why you need to plan you quick-wins. Pick your quick-wins, and work towards them. Once you have your first success, communicate about it. Even when it is a small success.

Show that the quick-wins couldn’t have been achieved without the changes the organization has made.

8. Content Quality Gatekeeping

There is a content tsunami going on. Ever more content and ever more channels are being created.

Quality content is the only way to break through and get customer attention. If you are a small company, you can control the quality fairly easily by having someone serve as a content quality gatekeeper.

If you are a big company, you’ll need to set up governance to make sure departments, business units and subsidiaries understand how to keep the quality of content high enough. Additional governance needs to make sure content is aligned with the overall strategy and business objectives.  Other governance structures are needed to provide boundaries in which any content marketing initiative can freely work.

9. Embedding the change

 embedding change content marketingAs a last “change management essential ingredient”, change needs to be embedded in a number of core processes of the organization.

Think of the following:

  • HR on-boarding process: new people that come on board will need training about what you expect from them with regards to content and social media.
  • Gamification & rewarding: as an additional component to motivate employees you can think of monetary and non monetary rewards for people that contribute.
  • Develop the content marketing organizational chart, roles & functions, reporting lines, alignment structures, workflow and related processes.


These are my “9 Key Change Management Essentials for Epic Content Marketing”.

Did I forget any? If so, you have to tell me in the comment box. Thanks!

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere

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