What Every CMO Should Ask of Their Communications Strategy


This post originally appeared on Cision's blog at: http://www.cision.com/us/2016/10/the-new-marketing-mandate-for-the-advocacy-era/   


Digital, social and mobile channels have empowered customers. Today’s audiences are looking for (and can easily find) information that appeals directly to their needs. And they’re looking increasingly for it from the people that they trust -- most notably, their family, friends, colleagues, influencers and other subject matter experts.

In fact, according to Edelman’s 2016 EARNED BRAND study, 86% of surveyed consumers rely on peer sources for learning about brands and 71% rely on peer sources for buying decisions.

Buyers aren’t just in control of their own purchases; they’re influencing other people’s purchases. It’s not enough to view your audience as prospects and customers. They’re potential influencers and advocates, as well. So, vast networks of buyers and influencers have been established.

Meanwhile, brands have their own networks -- both internally and externally. In many cases, they are sending out disparate messages to buyers via their own departments (communications, marketing, sales, etc.) that have to be coordinated. That doesn’t even take into consideration the messages being sent from their key partners, influencers and their own customers.

In effect, what has been created is a network to network economy. On one side you have brand networks, with buyer networks on the other side, and influencers in between, all interacting in a dynamic convergence of earned, paid and owned channels. The gap that needs to be addressed by marketers and communicators, is effectively identifying the influencer communities where the buyer lives, identifying key topics of conversation, and connecting the dots.



We have entered the Era of Advocacy - where advocacy drives the markets, creating a new mandate for marketers.

You need to know how to tap into this community’s influence and build relationships that deliver a continual cycle of growth for your company. According to McKinsey, customers acquired via word-of-mouth have a 37% higher retention rate.

To achieve this level of sophistication, there are three fundamental questions that every Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Communications Officer must answer.

1. What’s your content strategy? 

At minimum, your strategy needs to identify what topics your content will cover, who will author it, and what format the content will take. The content must be highly relevant to your audience’s needs, come from an influencer or peer they trust and relate to, and be presented in a way that’s easy to interact with. Aligning these three keys with your audience’s needs and communications objectives will pave the way for compelling content experiences.

2. How are you sharing this content across channels? 

Multichannel promotion is a given for any communications strategy; however, many brands are missing the right channel mix. As I explore in the new white paper Master the Mix: Amplify Your Campaigns Results with Earned Media, consumers are becoming increasingly resistant to advertising and losing confidence in brands which decreases the effectiveness of owned media. It’s time to re-prioritize your earned media strategy and shift some of the investment from paid and owned to earned for a more balanced approach.


3. How are you measuring your programs? 

Being able to track only visits, likes or shares is no reason to celebrate. Earned media measurement means having a 360-degree view of your communications and proving value across every stage of the customer journey – from exploration and engagement to adoption and advocacy. It means being able to use the data to A/B test and optimize future communications. More importantly, you need to demonstrate the business impact of your programs.


Check out Cision Canada's blog for more on how you can lay the foundation for a stronger content strategy. 


About Ken Wincko

Ken Wincko is the SVP of Marketing at Cision and PR Newswire, where he manages the company's global marketing strategy. He is also a member of the Executive Management Committee. He has more than 20 years of marketing, product and business development experience in bringing innovative marketing programs and solutions to market for both B2B and B2C organizations.

Prior to Cision and PR Newswire, Ken held senior-level marketing and product leadership roles at Dun & Bradstreet, ADP, Citigroup, and IBM. Ken is an advisory board member of the CMO Council. He is a frequent speaker at major industry conferences and has been covered in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, TechTarget, Information Management, The Demand Gen Report, and MarketingSherpa.

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