Our collective marketing rule book needs to be rewritten to be agile
Our collective marketing rule book needs to be rewritten to be agile
A view from Mark Brayton

Our collective marketing rule book needs to be rewritten for agility

Agile is ability, says Mark Brayton, interactive marketing director for personal and corporate banking at Barclays, and it is the only way to have success with content marketing.

Marketers today are faced with some common challenges. A plethora of new marketing techniques, an explosion of new brands and a proliferation of media platforms mean there are now more exciting audience-communication opportunities than ever.

All too often, however, these must be tempered with the constant battle for cut-through and genuine consumer engagement. On top of all that, consumers expect to interact with brands strictly on their own terms: whenever and wherever, through whatever device or channel suits them best. Communicating a consistent story while ensuring your brand has a clear point of view within your key target audiences is now more challenging. Tackling these challenges not only requires us to think differently, it also needs us to break new ground within our existing marketing structures and processes to enable us to reach our audiences.

So, our collective marketing rule book needs to be rewritten. Individual channel-planning has to be a thing of the past, and the obstacles presented by the silos that so often characterise large organisations have to be chiselled away. Gone are the days when we can rely solely on planning our marketing activity around product or service launches. Nor, I would argue, can we simply create and then output the same message across every touchpoint. We know it’s about delivering the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, and via the right channel. And above all else, being timely, relevant and, of course, interesting has become the key to unlocking opportunities for deeper audience engagement and better business growth. Sounds good, but what does this actually mean and what does it take for us to achieve it?

Individual channel-planning has to be a thing of the past.

Well, for us at Barclays, it has been an 18-month journey of continuous evolution and improvement across our content marketing. This has needed a big mindset-shift in terms of how we plan, choreograph, co-create and produce our content. We’ve adopted a publishing-style model that continuously challenges us to put ourselves in our audience’s shoes day in, day out. There has been a significant investment of time, resources and process adjustment, well beyond the realms of traditional marketing. Our digital, data, legal and compliance departments have all been brought into the fold to work with us as content partners.

The innovation that has made this all possible is our Barclays editorial board, which has genuinely transformed the way in which we communicate with our customers and clients. It’s the engine that enables us to publish relevant branded content at pace, in response to the evolving news agenda and changing consumer needs.

Our editorial board meets weekly to review real-time customer insight, data trends and the latest news items. Empowered decision-makers from all our key communication channels – together with our key agency leads (co-ordinated by our content agency, Redwood) – then rapidly commission editorial content that best responds to our customers’ known needs. We also pinpoint the most appropriate owned, earned and paid-for channels to amplify our message. The agility of this process enables us to publish content within hours, if that’s the right thing to do.

To help bring this to life a little, we were particularly proud of our response to July’s post-election Budget, where we published several segmented-content articles of substantial, customer-focused analysis. These were then amplified by significant email and social campaigns within 24 hours of the Chancellor’s speech – no mean feat for an organisation of our size and complexity.

Redefining our process has enabled us to focus our energies more on devel­oping content and communications that generate real value for our key target audiences. During this transformation we have recorded a significant improvement in the advocacy, engagement and commercials relating to each of our content outputs.

So in today’s marketing climate, agility is key. With plenty of perseverance – plus lots of energy and talent – I am convinced it is possible to overcome marketing’s current challenges and traditional organisational obstacles to realise the rewards of sharing genuinely relevant content with more-engaged and better-understood consumers.