In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Drew Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Lisa Bacus, click here.
Is your brand's content strategy looking a little under the weather? Engagement not as up-and-at-em as it used to be? Well, you're in luck. As EVP & Global CMO at healthcare provider Cigna, Lisa Bacus knows a thing or two about maintaining one's overall marketing health. And while it's not a medical license, Bacus did receive a Content Marketing award at The CMO Club's most recent CMO Awards, which is why I wanted to get her pro-tips for nurturing and maintaining a healthy content marketing program. Read below and be sure to follow the doctor's orders.
Step 1: Take The Customer's Pulse
When it comes to campaigns and content, Lisa Bacus says that one of the most important steps is to make absolutely sure of your relevance to your customer. "Know thy brand, know thy customer, know thy market," says Bacus. Learn what makes them tick, and you'll better understand how your content mix will interact with their own system, so to speak, as a physician would. "If you do the work to understand the current state, and what your current and prospective customers need, you can build upon your assets to ensure the brand is relevant and desirable, to drive greater consideration."
Step 2: Take Inventory of Your Supplies
Bacus acknowledges that developing content is no easy task, but offers some advice to those just starting out with a new brand. Take a look in your own cabinet, she said, and determine what customers might find interesting about your own activities. "There are probably a lot of great things that the organization is currently doing - you just need to harness it, synthesize it, and create it in a way that is compelling and consumers can easily digest it," she says. "And with good analytics and insight, you can deliver it in a way they want to receive it." For Cigna, this has meant a variety of methods, from distributing content via web, social and mobile platforms and co-branded partnerships to white papers on emerging trends and infographics.
Step 3: Explain and Empathize
At the time of our interview, Bacus had seen Cigna through some big changes, including an agency switch and a new brand direction. Research told the company that it needed to tell more of its story, says Bacus, and for good reason. "Those who were familiar with the brand were 19 times more likely to choose us," she says. This epiphany resulted in a switch from Cigna's former "GoYou" campaign to a more pluralist "Together, All The Way," which in Bacus's words conveys the long-term assistance and partnership that Cigna's advocates say they value most about the company. So, if your brand's content feels like it's lacking depth, maybe try digging a little deeper and showcasing the meaningful relationships it has built over the years.
Step 4: Enlist a Second Opinion
When the going gets tough in the doctor's office, it's usually smart to seek a second opinion. This goes for content marketing as well. Look for other sources of content from within your company, says Bacus, whose department has turned its cameras on the employees for a fresh perspective on what Cigna can offer. "What makes this easy is that our 35,000+ colleagues live the brand every day," she says. Cigna has featured employees in ads discussing how they have their customers' backs, and this internal involvement seems to have created an engagement loop. "Additionally, from a series of brand rallies, to personal commitments to the brand promise from every employee scrolling on our intranet, to a crowd-sourced contest where employees could share how they partner with charities in their community to win micro-grants for the charities," says Bacus, "the level of engagement has been terrific."
Step 5: Regular Check-Ins
Last but not least is the follow-up. Your content may have worked just fine last year, but every marketing campaign begins to feel its age eventually. Bacus says a check-in might be necessary, both for your strategy and for the sake of the customer experience. "When a team is no longer delivering optimal value for the customer or the company," she says, "it's time to take a look at what you are doing and how you are doing it." And the sooner, the better, says Bacus: "I believe that most people come to work wanting to be great, so when the marketplace changes, or the business needs change, they are often quick to know it's time to take action and change or improve the current approach." Just as the doctor prescribed.
CMO of the Week is an exclusive Social Media Today column posted every Thursday