A Shift In The Industry: DMOs and Content
From organizational and operational pressures to the advertising landscape itself, tourism and destination marketing is harder than ever before. There are too many competitive destinations, not enough differentiation, and the changing technology habits of how consumers select destinations is evolving too rapidly for many Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) to keep up.
In order to evolve and succeed, DMOs need to realign their thinking and their organizations to engage, nurture and understand their prospective audiences as it relates to what they are seeking in a vacation destination. Ultimately, DMOs need to reconsider their own organizational structures and what they seek from their agency partners.
How Did It Get This Way?
Societal changes over the last 15 years have quietly changed how people think, behave, learn, and go about their day-to-day lives. Marketers need to rethink their own behaviors to keep up.
It starts by understanding people. Fuseideas has long been studying generational shifts and how the role of technology and media has created a need for people to engage with a brand differently than they have in the past. Many studies and articles have been published about how the days of TV and print are going away, and that new media and digital is the only way to reach the generations with an increasing amount of spending power, Millennials and Generation Z. While often overstated, this shift has roots in truth that cannot be ignored.
We see these generations consuming content and media in ways completely different than the generations before them. While it’s still true that Baby Boomers and Generation X are still potent purchasers of vacations and destinations, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand that these generations are also influenced by how the younger generations are being marketed to. We see this in grandparents who are becoming digitally savvy thanks to being taught how to use these devices by their kids and grandkids!
Tourism is not the only industry affected. For example, this shift has absolutely changed the game for the cable industry and other related industries.
Fuseideas was fortunate to work with Disney and ESPN in 2006 on their initial broadband offerings, Disney Connection, ESPN360, and ABCNewsNow and we saw this inevitable sea change affecting the industry and how people would come to consume content as a whole. This was driven by technology because as soon as it became viable to send HD and broadcast quality signal over wireless, the cable industry as we know it evolved. This shift not only changed a whole ecosystem of broadcast and traditional advertising which marketers used to rely on, it also caused two generations to be raised digital first. As a result, the way marketers connect with audiences is now completely different than even 10 years ago.
We know that technology and media innovation are not slowing down. In fact, it’s only happening faster. We also know that DMOs are struggling to keep up, often are not ready for these changes and that they are being increasingly questioned and challenged by their tourism stakeholders within their jurisdiction to have a plan to keep up with these trends.
DMO Marketing: What is the Core Problem?
Many DMOs today are ill-equipped to deal with the rapid changes in marketing today. We see an opportunity for some DMOs to take a leadership position in being relevant to today’s audiences, but there are often many problems which must be overcome.
The problem within DMOs is frequently systemic, built into the very culture, organizational structure, and the nature of how the organizations is governed.
This culture and organizational structure often creates challenges such as:
- Varying skillset of the DMOs employees
- Inability to properly manage outside resources
- Lack of data with which to make good decisions
- Lack of technology or integration to make it all work together
Solution to The Problem
Realigning the organization to connect with people through the intersection of technology, media, and creativity is achievable for DMOs who acknowledge this is real, it’s happening, and important for them to move forward. This can happen through building in-house skills and also better leveraging agency partners.
We believe the following pillars can help overcome the problems noted above:
- Adopting A Content Mindset
- Understanding What Content Is
- Skills Required for A Content-Driven Organization
- Non-Staffing Considerations
DMOs (and their agency partners by extension) must think of themselves more as a “Huffington Post” than a traditional marketing organization. This means moving from one-way marketing (“we build a campaign and drive people to it”) to two-way omni-channel engagement (“ongoing content in many forms, that is meant to engage, and drive conversation and the resulting data informs the next evolution of content strategy”).
The days of agencies building sometimes expensive and standalone campaigns around promotions or seasons, has been augmented and ultimately will be replaced by an integrated eco-system that relies on all forms of marketing, creativity, and media. One that uses technology to measure results which are then used to inform the subsequent content that will be generated.
This is a complete shift for many organizations because it requires DMOs to listen, learn, and then adjust.
What Content Is
Content is the lifeblood of DMOs and they, of all industries, are gifted with the fact that their destinations are rich in content and that the key is knowing where to find it, when to use it, how to use it and what form it takes.
Content (both digital and print) takes many forms. In fact, the vast array of types of content can take a team to manage, which may include both internal resources and also potentially through agency partners. Content for DMOs could include:
- Long form and short form
- Written (blogs, posts)
- Long form and short form
- Infographic and Statistical
- Auditory (podcasts)
- Participatory (contests and online events)
Within these types of content, DMOs will also find that that content can vary in both length of use and appropriate time of audience interest. Each content subset will likely include content that is intended for:
- One Time Use
- Ongoing or Evergreen Use
- Seasonal Use
DMOs need to embrace becoming a Content-Driven
Skills and Roles Required to Be a Content-Driven Organization
90% of DMOs are not prepared to be a content-driven organization either through internal or external resources. The reasons are structural, sometimes political, and also driven by lack of understanding of what is really happening in the world of marketing outside their industry. We feel it’s very important for DMO leadership to be aware of how other industries are handling the rapid changes in consumer behavior and using some of these best practices to upgrade their staff and also strengthen their agency partnerships.
In many cases, strategically achieving the ability to be a Content-Driven Organization means realigning internal staff to be aware and cognizant to what today’s consumers expect.
To go back to our reference to the Huffington Post, DMOs must realign their internal team and agency partners and develop the skills to be relevant to todays’ audiences and be set-up for long-term success. As the Huffington Post relies on a vast array of contributed content from individuals with different backgrounds, goals, and skillsets, so must a successful Content-Driven Organization set themselves up to create and curate strategic content at a rapid pace.
Roles often found within a successful Content-Driven Organization include:
“Editor in Chief” – Chief Content Officer
- Key Role: Chief Content Ambassador/Strategist (Across Print, Digital and Other Means)
- Description - This position is an increasing important one in DMOs today and there are very few if any, DMOs that currently have an individual that fits this role on staff. This needs to change. Typically, this a function that DMOs outsource to their agencies, but even if they do, they need someone in-house who understands that content is the new marketing currency and they need to understand how it all comes together.
We see the Chief Content Officer almost be viewed as the conductor of an orchestra and be versed in the following:
- A strategic thinker who understands brand marketing but also content in its many forms and can build a team (both internally and through agencies) that can generate content to a variety of audiences 365 days a year.
- Someone who understands that storytelling and community, ultimately needs to lead to commerce. Content marketing aims to develop a mutually beneficial relationship between the DMO and the right consumer for your destination. This person must be able to either provide or manage effectively the teams that provide expert level strategies and campaigns that transforms DMO content into a valuable sales and marketing tool.
- Managing the “orchestra” - This is where the “editorial” focus comes in. This person must be able to understand the brand, and work across the organization and the agency partners to build content strategies that aligns with the brand and ensures that it is executed on an ongoing basis through all forms of content and that could include photography, video, graphic design, and illustration.
- Platform Manager – While not needing to be a “techie” along the lines of a CTO or CIO, the CCO needs to understand how digital asset management, social channels, CMS, CRM, and E-Marketing tools execute across an organization.
- Manager of your Community and influencers – this person must also be able to understand the importance of content that is not generated from within. Being able to identify and engage a community of influencers and ambassadors that lie outside your organization, and who subscribe to your brand values, and are unique to you, is of critical importance.
- Loves Data and ROI – An ability to focus on content performance and continuously evolve strategy based on observations is an important factor. Not all content is going to work effectively or achieve your objectives. Your Chief Content Officer needs to consume analytics and adjust according to the data and ROI. Key performance indicators focus on follower growth, engagement, user generated content, and sentiment.
Other Key Roles for a Content-Driven Organization
While the Chief Content Officer may be the conductor or the editor in chief, they will not be successful alone. In order for content to be managed effectively across the organization, many members of the “orchestra” are required. These roles could include:
- Chief Content Strategist
- Content Writer/Generator
- Community/Channel Manager
Chief Content Strategist
- Key Role: Develop an ongoing content strategy and evolve as results dictate; This person could also be the Chief Content Officer depending on the skill set.
- Description: The content strategist is the linchpin of the entire team. This person is responsible for putting together the playbook for effective content marketing. This person understands the business of tourism marketing and also understands brands, audiences, creativity, and storytelling and also has the attention to detail required to ensure the strategy becomes reality through the internal team or agency partner.
- Key Role: Day-To-Day Project Manager of content gathering efforts
- Description: This person has exceptional project management skills and is the one who works with the content strategist to plan and manage the acquisition of content according to the overall content calendar. If there is an agency responsible for gathering content, they typically would be working with the Producer on almost a daily basis.
An ideal producer should have experience for a news or media company, an agency, or where they were responsible for managing similar productions. This person needs to be very organized, task oriented and good at working with others.
- Key Role: Storyteller
- Description: There are typically 2 types of writers, copywriters and content writers and there are differences, but if you can find someone who can do both, you are ahead of the game. DMOs may wish to look for someone with a journalism background or even a former reporter to full this role.
Content writers tend to write longer form content, and their work is more often seen at the top of the “sales funnel”—driving brand awareness instead of being laser-focused at writing copy that is direct response oriented.
A skilled content writer should be a great storyteller, can easily adapt to different brand voices and styles, and excels at in-depth explanations or descriptions. They think about the structure and flow of information, and care more about keeping you interested than getting you to convert.
- Key Role: Visual Storyteller
- Description: These people are typically paired with a writer and according to editorial needs, will curate the visuals to support the writing. This is typically the same dynamic as a cameraman and a reporter for a news organization. The photographer and videographers should work closely with the editors to ensure the right visuals are being captured for the right purposes.
Both the photographer and videographer should be capable of editing their work, so it is production ready according to editorial standards set by the Chief Content Officer and Content Strategist.
- Key Role: Audience Engagement
- Description: This role is of critical importance as the channel manager is responsible for the day to day distribution of content and the management of the brand where it touches the consumer. This person can and should be responsible for the following:
- Management of all social media channels (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat)
- Management of ongoing email campaigns
- Customer service responses via social media
- Engagement and follower growth strategies
- Key Role: Visual Storyteller
- Description: The ideal designer should have some conceptual experience, including digital experience but also be well versed in production techniques and best practices which are critical for all the content elements that are produced and include:
- Digital Assets
- Email Newsletters
- Print collateral, brochures, etc.
Non-Staffing Factors for a Content-Driven Organization
Beyond having the skills either internally or externally, a DMO also requires some non-staffing factors that are needed for success. These include the following:
There are a number of different technologies required for a successful content strategy. We won’t cover them in a lot of detail here, but we identify what is required:
- Digital Asset Management System - One thing that can help a destination marketing organization is a Digital Asset Management System (DAM). A Digital Asset Management system manages all the content within an organization so that it can be shared and distributed across the organization and with agency partners. It also can manage the usage rights to the content to ensure that the content is able to be used for public consumption.
There are a number of good Digital Asset Management systems on the market today including MediaValet (www.mediavalet.com), NetX (www.netx.net) and Widen (www.widen.com).
Any DAM should be cloud-based and do much more than store assets. It needs workflow that helps DMOs create, manage, share, and analyze thousands of digital assets — not to mention improve efficiency and brand consistency — from one content hub.
- Content Management System (website) – This is a critical consideration and the CMS must be able to integrate into the DAM as well as other parts of the organization to serve as not only the hub for external audiences, but also as a key measurement device to determine which content is resonating most effectively with each audience persona.
- CRM – CRM is another piece to assist in lead generation and capture and also ongoing content marketing. Whether it’s Salesforce, Simpleview, Zoho, Sugar, or another product, a CRM cannot work alone. It must be integrated into your entire content strategy.
- E-Marketing – E-Marketing is another key element that must be considered. A robust marketing strategy must include ongoing e-communications and it’s critical to have a platform that can scale with the size of your list and also grow into the future. It’s also very important that your lists (particularly for international) be GDPR compliant. This is a huge consideration in your e-marketing strategy.
Speaking of workflow, as you build your content team, it is critically important that there is a process for gathering, approving, and publishing content. This needs to be critical foundation for any content team being established.
This becomes increasingly important across large DMOs with multiple departments. Content workflow is dependent on a number of factors:
- The structure of the team and agency partners identified above
- Responsibilities of each
- Content calendar
- Type of content and phases of development
Content marketing governance is a critical element to be addressed when establishing your team or ecosystem of agencies and internal resources. Content governance is critical in order to keep your content:
- Following a clear brand voice
- Applicable and relevant to your different audience types
Content governance is the day-to-day detailed management of content delivery and style, as well as the long-term execution of content strategy tactics. Content governance provides an overall structure that:
- Determines priorities
- Provides detailed guidelines and standards on how content should look, behave and interact with your audiences
- Assigns ownership to people within the organization, so they can make strategic decisions about content
Governance belongs at the center of any content strategy. This is because governance:
- Creates a consistent customer experience across channels
- Avoids content bloat
- Sets internal organizational controls
The tools involved in content governance may include, among others:
- Content workflows
- Editorial guidelines
- Style guides
- Web content committees
- Archiving standards
It’s becoming increasingly important for DMOs to connect their destination’s offerings to people through the intersection of creativity, media and technology.
Traditional marketing campaigns are becoming increasingly ineffective in reaching today’s consumers, but when augmented by content marketing they can achieve critical ongoing engagement with your potential audiences.
Whether you establish your team in-house or rely on agency partners, there needs to be careful attention paid to the skills needed for effective content marketing, as well as the presence of proper technology, workflow strategy, and governance to become a Content-Driven Organization.
How Fuseideas Can Help
Fuseideas can help you become a Content-Driven Organization in a variety of ways:
- Helping organizations identify the right mix of internal staff and external resources
- Developing both the short-term and long-term strategy in terms of structure, technology, workflow, and governance
- Providing overall content strategy while training the in-house resources on day-to-day management
- Developing the KPIs and measurement vehicles for success
- Managing the establishment and set-up of the internal content team by temporarily leading the transition and helping select the right person to lead it in the long term
- Providing day-to day editorial, community management, writing, photography, videography and design resources to support the DMO’s internal team
For more information, please contact Dennis Franczak, CEO, Fuseideas at 781-897-4801 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.