Originally published by September 26th, 2011 in CMI.
Social networks and search engines have changed the behavior of Intel’s business marketing audience of IT managers who are constantly searching for information and evaluating new technologies even when they are not purchasing them. As marketers, we need to engage with them on topics they care about and that are relevant to Intel on a timely basis. This is where an editorial planning process comes into play.
Creating an editorial plan for one region is not difficult. But Intel has offices in more than 50 countries and customers in 120 countries, so anything we do at the corporate level needs to be scalable to its five major geographic regions. We not only need to find topics that can cross geographical and cultural boundaries, but we also need a process that can support the implementation of an editorial calendar.
Step 1: Identify/prioritize and consolidate topics
There are a lot of ways to identify potential content topics. For example:
- Consider the web to be your best friend. Go to the sites that your audience frequents and find out what topics are discussed there. Ask your geo counterparts to do the same and share the intelligence.
- Ask your customers, sales team, and analysts about the current topics of interest to customers in their areas.
Make your editorial topics broad enough so you can create more specific editorial topics for blogs, case studies and other formats of content. You will need to consolidate and prioritize those topics. If they are technical in nature, ask subject matter experts to help you consolidate the topics. Prioritization of topics can be based on your gut feelings on the market and its needs, your understanding of your audience, and recommendations from your sales team. Take into account your ability to tell a relevant story that can address each topic — remember, it’s more of an art than a science.
Step 2: Finalize global editorial topics and timeline
To globalize the editorial planning, it’s vital to review your chosen topics with your team leaders in each geographical area and get their feedback. One important lesson to learn here is that it’s not possible to make every region completely happy. Listening and gathering their feedback does not mean you have to, or comply, with all their requests. I often need to make tough decisions about dropping a topic requested by a specific geo. But as long I am able to explain the reasoning behind my decision, the regional teams are usually OK with it.
Step 3: Create a geo-specific editorial calendar
A global editorial calendar does not mean “copy-exact” or “one-size-fits all”. Geographical regions can look into the editorial calendar and take into account their budgets, resources, and feedback given by their sales teams or customers to help them determine which topics they ultimately want to move forward with. It’s important to give each region the freedom to prioritize topics based on its specific needs.
Step 4A: Create a topic marketing kit
While the geographical regions work on customizing their editorial calendars, we at headquarters start putting together a topic marketing kit, which includes:
- Intel’s story: What can Intel say about this topic? What stories can we tell to illustrate our key message points? If the geographies decide to create their own content, they can use Intel’s story as a baseline to create localized content.
- Messaging and positioning on the topic: How can we headline the story to get attention yet still accurately reflect the content? What are some proposed sound bites and examples of short and long copy that would be appropriate?
- Search terms: Have we remembered to include relevant search terms that complement web page optimization and paid search?
- A list of content: Options include white papers, videos, demos, email invites, landing pages, and more. Recently, we added a social media conversation guide, which provides short and quick statements and suggestions for hashtags to use on Twitter, Facebook or other popular social media sites in the different regions.
Step 4B: Create an engagement plan
With the marketing kit that the headquarters team created in hand, geographies can build their own engagement plans using different marketing mixes to adjust the dial up or down for that topic. For example, Japan’s integrated effort may focus on:
- Direct email responses to a specific topical landing page
- Online advertising based on a certain keyword buy
- Sponsorship of key industry events
- Collaborating with partners on potential co-marketing activities
Step 5: Share engagement plan results
After the topic campaign has launched, geographies can share the campaign and engagement results with headquarters. Typical engagement results include:
- Sales volume goal,
- Number of clicks on the landing page
- Opening rates on e-mail campaigns
- Number of prospects
- Number of downloads on content
- Number of attendees at local events
Step 6: Refine the editorial plan and topic marketing kit
It’s important for geographies to provide feedback on the quality of the marketing kit so headquarters can continue to provide useful guidance for the geographical regions to leverage in future marketing efforts. Our geographies provide feedback on the most downloadable content and the format recommendations for future content. The recent addition of a social media conversation guide as part of our topic marketing kit was a good example of geographical feedback.
Intel started this process only one year ago. Though we are still refining the process, the feedback from our geographical regions has been very positive so far. And through our journey, we’ve already learned a few key things:
- Lead time for developing the topic resource kit may be longer than you expect. We underestimated how much time would take for us to generate a complete topic marketing kit. We found out it’s OK to consolidate and reduce the number of topics from six to three or four as long as the topic is broad enough to be tailored to specific regional needs.
- It’s important to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the headquarters team and each geographical team. For example, we decided that HQ would own editorial topics, the timeline and content delivery, while our geographies would own execution.
- Content is king and creative is queen. Storytelling using simple, creative methods makes for easier proliferation. Some examples of how to simplify your creative:
- Print and online banner ads should be headline-driven and have a simple background.
- In videos, try to tell your story without using a lot of dialogue, as this will require less need for translation.
- For demos, creating one version with English subtitles is usually appreciated by the geographies.
Thinking like a publishing company is a great way to drive conversation and engagement with a target audience. Scaling editorial planning globally enables us to stay relevant and on message.