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Research: UK companies embrace content marketing, but suffer from “the content headache”

With the deafening buzz around content marketing, communication and marketing professionals are increasingly under pressure to reinvent their role as "publishers". But contrary to the conception that every brand should become its own media, most companies are not geared to produce content. They might be great at producing cars, software, lipstick, you name it, but the real-time, multichannel, ubiquitous environment we now live in creates new expectations and new challenges to implement a great content strategy.

Here are the main highlights of our survey:

1. The "Content Rush" is very real: 91% of companies will produce more content in 2014 than last year and 88% of companies plan to produce even more in 2015, buoyed by growing support from senior management and rising budgets devoted to creating digital content.

2. Most companies in the UK are still in the process of laying the groundwork and staffing up to meet these objectives.

3. Among some of the worrisome signs of lack of readiness, it appears that;

  • Only 25% have done a content audit to-date
  • Only 19% have a big enough team dedicated to creating & distributing digital content
  • Only 25% have the right skill set internally to measure the impact of digital content.

4. Beyond these "building blocks" of a sound content strategy, there is a larger issue revealed by the survey: when it comes to creating and managing content, organisational and cultural barriers can hinder even the most creative content strategy:

  • Only 17% say content is easily retrievable in their organisation, which should be a wake-up call for all chief information officers, intranet managers and social collaboration software vendors
  • Only 21% believe they have the right organisation or structure internally to ensure they utilise all of the great content that resides in the company. In the words of one of the respondents "The scale of the organisation means that content probably exists within various business units which would make good corporate content, but we have no way of knowing that it even exists". This verbatim is eerily reminiscent of the famous quote by Lew Platt, former CEO of HP: "If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable". Considering Platt's quote dates from the early 1990's, this serves as a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done to facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing, and more generally creating the conditions for the type of organisation nimble enough to thrive in the digital era.

In spite of such sobering statistics on corporate realities behind the "content rush", the survey confirms these "growing pains" are being addressed: 51% of companies declare to have more expertise in creating and distributing digital content than last year and 38% have more internal staff dedicated to creating and distributing content for the company.

This confirms the various degrees of maturity revealed by the study, which are essentially three-fold:

  • Many companies are still "siloed", stifling most efforts to glean existing content from the pockets of knowledge within the organisation.
  • Some follow a centralised model where communication acts as the gatekeeper for all information going out or coming in. This system guarantees visibility and control over usable content but creates scalability and resources strain. The larger the organisation, the more inadequate this system may be for efficient content management.
  • A few leaders fall within the fully integrated category, with good communication and collaboration across marketing, digital, communications and operational functions to make the most of existing and new content across all channels.

Last but not least, we noticed a stark contrast between companies with existing or more budget for paid media in 2014, vs 37% of respondents who confessed having less or no paid media. In the current environment of declining reach, we expect this factor to become a growing concern for communication professionals as they adapt their content strategy to the de facto "pay for play" digital ecosystem. Otherwise, the ever-growing supply on content could never reach its intended audiences.

If you like to know more please email me at or tweet me @stanm

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