What content marketers need to enhance collaboration

Deborah Holstein

July 13, 2016

Collaborative marketers

An amended version of this article was originally published on LinkedIn

Marketing is one of the most collaborative and social functions in business. We have a myriad of external partners and vendors with whom we actively create and refine the written and visual content that comprises our programs and campaigns. We might work with designers, writers, agencies, analysts, videographers, photographers and more over the course of a single campaign. In addition to these external team members, we also work with a wide set of internal SMEs, stakeholders and approvers who have a pivotal role to play in launching new campaigns and content.

Marketing’s level of complex collaboration is a critical factor in the overall success of modern businesses. As this Harvard Business Review article notes, the best marketing leaders actively engage in creating company strategy by effectively “linking their departments to general management and other functions”.

Creating content collaboratively is hard
A marketer’s work to create innovative and effective assets and content is fraught with challenges and speed bumps. Just keeping up with the 24/7 need to feed the beast with fresh material is job one. This content and creative then must work across multimedia channels, which means working with a range of different creators, many of who will be external independent contractors. Ensuring that this complex team works effectively together requires communication to be seamless and transparent.

And it doesn’t end there. Once you have the content, then you must secure buy-in from approvers and other stakeholders internal to your organization. Then, once you have approval on the creative, another process kicks in as the content needs to be adapted for all the different mediums and launched in an integrated way by many distinct channel owners both within and outside the company. Marketing blogger David Sealey lists a mind-bending number of digital and physical channels, from affiliates to YouTube and beermats to wearables – any and all of which may be part of each marketing manager’s campaign.

This is the reality of today’s forward thinking, innovative marketer. It’s no wonder our recent survey of marketing and creative professionals showed that one in three people had worked on a creative project that was late and over-budget in the past 12 months. 66% of marketers surveyed were managing their content creations process in email, and 70% of them admitted that it is an ineffective tool for the job.

Hightail survey late over budget project

We’ve all been there, and managing creative and content development projects with video, photo, psd and jpeg assets in email is madness. With the volume of content growing, many marketing teams are looking for social collaboration tools. Here are my requirements.

A social collaboration tool for Marketing needs to:

  1. Make it easy for internal teams and external freelancers, agencies and vendors to work together on creating and refining common content. Too often marketers are forced to use a myriad of half-based solutions to deal with each different partner, which is a major creativity blocker and a huge time suck.
  2. Provide project stakeholders and approvers with a single place to view, provide feedback on and approve final versions of this content. In that survey I mentioned earlier, 85% of people said that getting clear final approval on creative projects is a major issue, so something is definitely broken right now.
  3. Allow for easy sharing of this content with channel owners for a timely, effective campaign launch. And this doesn’t have to mean investing in a complex media asset management system that requires administrative oversight from someone obsessed with file naming conventions and folder structures. Apps need to work for the people working together.

Being social is not enough. Marketers need the ability to seamlessly engage with all of the different marketing stakeholders – vendors, freelancers, agencies, internal management, sales stakeholders and channel owners – around our “work in process” content in relevant ways.

Our complex network of internal and external team members across a number of functions and disciplines, plus tight timelines is why marketers and the creative professionals we work with need a social business tool built specifically for us – with functionality and flexibility specific to the unique challenges we face in bringing innovative campaigns and content to market.

As Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn shows us, the trend for social business and collaboration tools continues. Marketing functions are a unique challenge. As you look for social tools to benefit your marketing function, keep in mind their complex collaboration, content creation and sharing requirements, and ensure the solution is built for marketing.