As part of the process for writing his book “Methodical Content Marketing”, Gerrit had the chance to interview Sandra Harzer-Kux, the Managing Director of the Germany’s leading brand content agency, Territory. The interview not only shed light on market positioning, but also involved a discussion about content marketing. Admittedly, this topic has been recognized as complex to understand. Nonetheless, because the interview lasted over an hour, we’ve split it into two sections. Happy reading!
Who is Sandra Harzer-Kux?
Gerrit: My guest for today is Sandra Harzer-Kux. She is the Managing Director of the German brand content agency, Territory. So, who are you, where do you come from, and what motivates you the most?
Sandra: I am Sandra. I have been the Managing Directory of Territory for 2 years. Prior to this, I was the Managing Director of Corporate Editors, the publishing subsidiary of Gruner & Jahr for content marketing. Actually, my background is in film. I was an active film producer and produced 3 movies for Fatih Akin. And what motivates me the most? Good, journalistic content!
Creating content in service of customers
Gerrit: Content is an excellent starting point, because the next question is regarding content, or rather, content marketing. What is content marketing for you?
Sandra: For me, content marketing is a type of marketing that communicates specific goals through editorial content.
Gerrit: Can you elaborate more on the definition of these communication goals?
Sandra: There are many different contexts where the use of content marketing is appropriate. People are interested in stories and not just simple messages, so the point is to tell good stories. I use this both for new customer acquisition and customer loyalty. In end effect, it is a way for my consumers, my readers, and users first and foremost to begin communication with me and therefore connect with my product, my brand and the topics I work with.
Gerrit: So, this means that content marketing is actually a user-focused discipline?
Relevant content sustainably connects to a target market
Gerrit: When a customer comes to you, what sorts of questions do they ask so that you respond with: no worries, we’ll use content marketing.
Sandra: The question that most customers ask me is how they can sustainably communicate with their customers. What happens before and after a campaign? What happens if I’ve already used traditional advertising methods to increase awareness? How can I explain my value and my product, i.e. how can I convey what I stand for? This problem can be solved brilliantly with content marketing.
Gerrit: Can you say then that these customers are very result-oriented?
Sandra: Oh for sure.
Gerrit: Is that the most important part of this process?
Sandra: No, but it’s definitely an important part. There are different approaches: many use content marketing for branding. For example, how can I publish high-quality content that enhances my product and brand?
Content marketing helps to set specific agendas and focuses on certain topics. How can I bring awareness to my content without using PR?
And the third point would definitely be sales. How can I reach new customers or a younger target group, etc.
There are countless objectives.
The demand for digital marketing is increasing
Gerrit: It seems like a kind of entrepreneurial thinking has passed over into the realm of creative content. Would you say it like this?
Sandra: Yes, of course. I think it’s a mixture. In today’s digital world, we have access to more forms of communication than in the past, and users can be reached in a wide variety of ways, meaning that each company has to ask the question: who can I reach with which message, which format do I use, and with which service? And which need does the customer have at this point in their customer journey? How can I convey the right information, inspiration, know-how or whatsoever?
It’s a sales-based concept, but due to the radically changed communications landscape, it’s also a lot easier because I have access to and can advertise with more than just traditional media such as TV, radio, popular magazines, and daily newspapers. Today I have a direct relationship to my end consumer to a certain extent.
Gerrit: Did digitalisation make this possible?
Sandra: Yes, the majority of it.
Social media, direct marketing and the usual suspects
Gerrit: In your opinion, which counterparts belong to content marketing?
Sandra: It is of course marketing because it involves brand management and communication. It also involves channel management, depending on how the business is set up, meaning social media or direct marketing. You can also say it includes the PR managers, because they distribute the content in the end.
Then the questions comes regarding technical infrastructure. Which software, tools and measurement tools do I need? As a result, sometimes I include the IT department, as well as marketing, and communications because we decide to use a strong approach for PR and agenda setting. Ultimately we want to reach the public, journalists and other target audiences.
Content strategy and content marketing are major priorities
Gerrit: I kept count: there are seven total counterparts. If we were to implement such a project as an agency for a customer, which decision-makers need to be at the table in order to carry out our content marketing project? Does it require a representative from each department or do you simply say: “I need an executive board!”
Sandra: (laughing)… That depends on the size of the company. If we’re talking about the DAX 30, then we probably can’t even get the executive board at the table. I think that in any case the marking executive needs to be at the table, because content marketing is a part of the communication strategy. This person holds the most responsibility for the distribution channels and media. In our experience, this person is the final decision-maker.
Industry-specific early adopters
Gerrit: Is it more the early adopters or does the topic of content marketing already have such a deep impression on companies that the decision-makers have long accepted that it is an essential part of the marketing mix?
Sandra: It depends, on the one hand, on the size of the company, but on the other, how marketing-focused the company is. Companies that are marketing-focused are of course already early adopters because they’ve recognized that it involves a new discipline and adapt it according to their needs.
Ultimately, marketing executives have to ask themselves: which resources can be used with which goals? When have I been successful and how can I measure that? How much can I achieve organically with good content? How much dialogue can I cushion around that? There are many questions that can’t be answered on a flat-rate basis because every company is unique. We have noticed that companies have a lot of experience and know exactly what they need and also know exactly how it should be done.
Finally, it also means giving up a bit of control. Of course there are companies who this is difficult for and can’t break free of traditional advertising methods. Content marketing is continual communication that plays with frequency and not just the campaign itself, but the concept goes through ups and downs. It is actually very similar to the publishing industry: a permanent use of platforms combined with communication with end consumers.
That was the first part of the interview with Territory’s Managing Director, Sandra Harzer-Kux. In the second part, the discussion will deal with a content marketer’s typical knowledge and skillset, recruiting employees, as well as tips on how to start out as a new content marketer. Stay tuned!
>> The book “Methodisches Content Marketing” (Eng: Methodical Content Marketing) by Gerrit Grunert was published by Springer Gabler Publishing – unfortunately German only. One click and it’s yours too!