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Why B2B companies need a Chief Content Officer

September 26 2011 11:15 AM

Who is the Chief Content Officer in your company?

I ask the question because it is a role that is increasingly common, particularly in the US.

In case it is new to you, a CCO is the single person who is responsible for the whole company’s content output. He or she marshalls a company’s internal army of writers, bloggers, technologists and amateur film-makers ensuring that everything that is posted in the company’s name is of a quality and relevance that customers would expect.

And in this age of instant publishing and information-hungry, Google-happy buyers, the content made available is vital to maintaining a share in the market and a presence in the hearts, minds and bookmarks of the target audience. So I thought it was about time we asked (and answered) the question: what benefits does a CCO actually bring to a B2B organisation?

The growing need for CCOs

But even though there is plenty of talk about CCOs, the reality is that creating content is still the job of many people, frequently operating in isolation from each other.

It stands to reason, because every customer-facing division needs content. Responsible for the website? You need content. Responsible for new business? You need content to generate leads. Customer retention? Web? Channel support? The need is the same, so it is not surprising that each division goes about it in their own way.

This raises two issues, both of which would be solved by the Chief Content Officer: quality and efficiency.

Quality of content

From the quality point of view, the CCO is able to take a broader perspective of the material being produced. He can ensure that brand values are being applied and that shaky hand-held videos don’t clog the company’s YouTube channel (unless that is what is expected of your brand). He can ensure topicality and accuracy of information and should have a better idea than anyone where the subject experts are within the organisation.

But he (or she) is not just a guardian. Their role is also to encourage content creators. They should be both evangelist and enabler, giving people within the company the skills and the confidence they need to contribute meaningfully to the corporate effort.

Efficient content production

The second issue of efficiency is perhaps the easiest one to sell at board level. If there is a central figure overseeing the company’s content needs, it is easy to avoid duplication. Resources can be directed at creating content once and simply repurposing it when necessary instead of reinventing every time.

But what if you don’t have a CCO? I believe the point is simply to recognise that, because content is more important than it has ever been, it is worth taking a more strategic approach to it. This trend has been driving the emergence of best practice resources, such as the Content Marketing Institute, which has its own ‘Chief Content Officer’ online magazine (you can see the cover of the latest issue at the top of this post). Which all points to the need for someone to take on the role of coordinating resources and making sure both the quality of content is kept up while the cost of producing it is kept down.

This person could be called a CCO but the title doesn’t matter. In fact, it doesn’t need to be anyone within your company at all, since agencies are increasingly taking on this role.

With in-house writing and production skills, as well as an external viewpoint, they are able to serve different divisions of the company with equal enthusiasm, providing an efficiently produced stream of content with minimum disruption to internal structures. And of course if it doesn’t work, it is much easier to undo…

Whether you hire a CCO or outsource the whole job is not really the point. A centralised content strategy is becoming essential, and the longer we wait before recognising it, the more time and money we are going to waste.

This article was first written on behalf of the Association of B2B Agencies in B2B Marketing Magazine in the UK in September 2011. Image courtesy of the Content Marketing Institute.

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March 25 2024 4:35 AM