Purpose-focused Communications

Content Marketing in a VUCA World

Today, I co-lead a Content Marketing for Non-profits and Associations workshop with Steve Drake, Becky Rasmussen and Kevin Sparkman, at Content Marketing World, in Columbus, OH.

I have the privilege of giving the broad overview presentation about Content Marketing in the opening session of the workshop.

And part of my presentation is how, through Content Marketing Strategy, you “find your center” in the fast moving, multiplatform, ever-changing world of marketing communications today.

For the 2nd time (I gave the same presentation in Seattle last week to the ECO Net Summit), I’m going to contextualize Content Marketing Strategy in terms of VUCA.

VUCA is an acronym I’ve learned from Seattle-area leadership consultants Don Johnston and Cynthia Weeks, of Parallax Consulting. Its origins are from the US Army War College, and it stands for:

V = Volatility

U = Uncertainty

C = Complexity

A = Ambiguity

According to the Wikipedia definition “VUCA is a practical code for awareness and readiness” that contributes to preparedness, anticipation, evolution and intervention.

What’s the relevance to Content Marketing in general, and Content Strategy, specifically?

I believe that there is nothing more VOLATILE, UNCERTAIN, COMPLEX and AMBIGUOUS than the always on, multiplatform, social media, “consumer in charge of the message” environment that we live in today.

In fact, we see a lot of random acts of marketing, as marketers and their organizations rush from one emerging social network to the next (where was Pinterest a year ago, for example) or from one platform to the next.

Based on conversations I have, from prospects to clients to people I meet at conferences, I believe this leaves the average marketing communications professional feeling confused, overwhelmed and ineffective in their jobs.

In the business leadership world, a response to VUCA has been the development of VUCA Prime. VUCA Prime, originated by leadership consultant Bob Johansen through his work with military, corporate, non-profit and government clients, stands for:

V = Vision

U = Understanding

C = Clarity

A = Agility

Facing the VUCA influences on marketing with a VUCA Prime response places emphasis on visioning future desired outcomes, understanding the constantly changing context within which that visioning exists, having the clarity to make sense of it all and the agility to respond.

And, lo and behold, this is exactly what Content Marketing Strategy provides us.

This means that content marketers who recognize and understand the VUCA world we operate within can – like military and business leaders – be prepared and resolved through a strategic content agenda.

It’s through the strategic content agenda that organizations can “find their center” in response to VUCA influences on channels, audiences, etc. in order to consistently achieve favorable desired outcomes with intent, rather than through random acts of marketing.

I hope that everybody at Content Marketing World 2012 has a great experience, and that this little discussion about VUCA helps place into context why Content Marketing Strategy is such an important facet of modern communications.