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What is the MACH-6? How to Use it to Optimize Your Content Strategy


Digital assets are crucial for modern marketing as they allow brands to tell their story and engage with clients in various ways. However, organizing and quantifying these digital assets can be overwhelming, especially with the constant evolution of new channels and trends. The challenge is to prevent older assets from becoming lost or forgotten as new content is generated, ensuring that they continue to serve their purpose.

Creating vast amounts of digital content is standard practice for marketers, with approximately 329 million terabytes of data being created daily.

Imagine your brand’s digital landscape; is it inundating consumers with unwanted noise, or is it providing them with valuable resources that they seek?

To engage with consumers even before they enter a brand’s ecosystem, marketers need to have a clear understanding of their digital library. This involves visualizing existing assets, establishing connections between them, and organizing them within a control hierarchy. Doing so provides insights into opportunities to expand or scale back, resulting in a stronger brand presence and more effective message promotion.

So, what is the most effective way to organize a brand’s asset stack? The MACH-6.

Meet the MACH-6

The MACH-6, also known as the 6-Level Marketing Asset Control Hierarchy, is a framework that helps brands gain clarity on their assets by organizing them into a hierarchical stack based on the degree of control the brand has over each asset.

The MACH-6 serves as a tool for owned asset optimization (OAO), offering brands a holistic view of their digital footprint. It helps identify opportunities for expanding reach through content atomization or the creation of new owned assets.

Essentially, the MACH-6 enables brands to adopt an asset-first approach, catering to the needs of their audience and fostering meaningful relationships in the process.

Understanding the content hierarchy

Most marketers are familiar with the varying degrees of control they have over their brand assets. The MACH-6 categorizes these degrees of control into three groups: owned, managed, and leveraged. This categorization helps brands recognize the level of control they have over their content.

Imagine a table with six layers; as you move up the layers, a brand’s reach broadens, yet its control over the content diminishes. While losing control may seem counterproductive to brand management, it is necessary to reach new audiences and attract more consumers. This approach can be successful when brands are ready to deploy a comprehensive library of owned assets to support and inform the content from the layers of managed and leveraged assets.

Owned Assets

The MACH-6 is built from the ground up to enable brands to establish a sturdy base with owned assets, over which they have complete technical and creative control. This category is further divided into three layers: foundation, ground level, and Tier 1.

This stack begins with fundamental elements such as company values and purpose, brand language and visual identities, proprietary data and IPs, customer personas, marketing positioning, and executive and employee ambassadors. These assets lay the strong foundation upon which the entire marketing strategy should be based. All assets should be connected to this foundation to maintain consistent brand messaging and positioning.

Next, we move up to websites at the ground level and Tier 1, which include pillar content, blog posts, tools, downloadable content, and corporate communications. These assets are fully controlled by the brand and serve as an external representation of the foundational base.

Managed Assets

Split into two layers — Tier 3 and Tier 4 — a brand’s managed assets are pieces of content that the team has some control over, while the channels are not entirely controlled by the brand. Continuing from the three layers of owned assets, Tier 2 includes public relations, events and communications, social media, bylines, ads, and emails. While a brand technically owns and manages its emails and social media accounts, platforms and email marketing tools ultimately control how the content is delivered, imposing limitations.

Tier 3 includes company profiles and ally websites, organic search, sites like Wikipedia, and content syndication. Brand impact on these assets is strong at lower MACH-6 layers, but there is less control over the content and its sharing.

Leveraged Assets

The top level of the MACH-6 structure focuses on influence and consists of user-generated and third-party content that brands can guide or direct, but ultimately cannot control. Examples include affiliates and influencers, reviews, word-of-mouth communication, user-generated content, and news.

In reality, the stronger the owned assets a brand creates, the more controlled messaging the managed and leveraged channels can draw from, increasing the likelihood of the brand’s preferred narrative being shared more frequently and reaching more consumers.

How to implement the MACH-6

Using the MACH-6, brands can gain a comprehensive view of their asset network, which is vital for organizing data and managing content, ultimately leading to a more effective strategy.

Irrespective of a brand’s size, most will have a vast ecosystem of content, created through significant investment of time, energy, money, and other resources. However, much of this content remains underutilized or forgotten due to improper organization.

The MACH-6 equips brands to identify and understand their needs better, sharing and creating assets that are relevant for moving consumers through the journey to conversion.

But how should one begin when facing a mountain of assets?

Understand your audience

To organize brand assets and prioritize focus areas, understanding what target consumers are looking for and how it can be provided through assets is essential. Mapping out the consumer journey helps in understanding the channels used by the audience, preferred sources for specific information, trusted content types, etc. This provides a blueprint to overlay the current MACH-6, revealing potential areas for brand improvement.

It’s worth noting that the consumer journey has evolved and is not necessarily a linear path. Ensuring that the journey map is up-to-date and honest, reflecting the complex and sometimes fragmented journeys of modern consumers, is critical.

Audit your assets

The ultimate goal of the MACH-6 is to successfully implement an OAO strategy. Therefore, auditing existing assets and understanding where they fit within the hierarchy helps in determining excess or deficiencies in each layer. This knowledge enables adjustments to be made as needed.

Identifying gaps in owned assets and reallocating resources to expand certain tiers, potentially reaching new audiences throughout their journeys, becomes possible through this process. Additionally, ensuring that the brand’s messaging is consistently communicated across every level of the MACH-6 improves brand credibility and awareness.

Audits also include financial review and prioritization. Matching the budget with the consumer journey and preferences and optimizing underperforming content to make a more significant impact are part of this process.

Understanding the digital landscape better allows for a stronger strategy to connect with consumers and drive business results.

Build your foundation

Prior to expanding to the full MACH-6, it is crucial to ensure a strong foundation of branding. Educating the entire organization about the brand basics—vision, mission, purpose, and values—and making any necessary updates is essential. It’s important not to shy away from the brand’s foundation, as this messaging should resonate throughout all brand content. The branding should be proudly shared publicly, and all assets should be connected to it.

Next, focus on Ground Level and Tier 1 owned assets, which are vital for a brand’s online success. Identifying gaps and filling them with content that aligns with the brand’s foundation is key. For example, if there is a lack of unique tools or downloadable information, consider ways to better provide value to consumers through guides or templates. Alternatively, brainstorm new approaches to expand the digital footprint, such as creating a new website to publish content that directly addresses consumer questions and needs.

Regardless of reach, optimized owned assets are a brand’s most powerful tools, enabling brands to take action when necessary while maintaining the creative and technical freedom to communicate and share their story.

Optimize your content

The MACH-6 is part of a broader marketing asset ecosystem that offers brands various opportunities to expand and reach more consumers. While this is essential for business growth, a broader reach requires relinquishing some control.

To balance assets and maintain control, it is crucial to ensure that owned assets are optimized for discoverability. Using data-backed strategies to appeal to Google, focusing on high-volume search keywords and questions, building author authority, and establishing a consistent publishing schedule can boost engagement and visibility. Incorporating unique visuals, questions, and how-to guides is another effective approach.

With a deeper pool of owned resources optimized for visibility and user experience, more consumers, journalists, and publishers will recognize the brand as an authoritative voice in its area of focus.

This further solidifies the brand’s messaging and establishes its tone, making it recognizable and influencing the narrative created by leveraged assets. In fact, building a strong foundation of owned assets increases the effectiveness of managed and leveraged assets.

If you build it, they will come. So be prepared.

Most of us can recall a significant news story or a memorable Super Bowl ad when thinking about successful marketing tactics. These tend to capture a lot of attention, providing brands with exposure to a larger audience than they would typically reach. However, brands have only a limited window of opportunity to capitalize on the increased visibility.

Without a framework of optimized owned assets that respond to questions and meet the growing demand using data and branding, brands risk missing out on sustained visibility. Capturing attention is only a part of the challenge, as consumers are more likely to continue researching a brand after significant exposure.

By auditing, organizing, and balancing content within a brand’s extensive digital asset collection, brands can create and share a steady stream of touchpoints to reach a broad base of consumers. As the brand grows, so too will its library, offering more opportunities to build awareness, engage with audiences, and ultimately drive sales.

The MACH-6 is a tool that empowers brands to organize and visualize their asset stack to assess every potential consumer connection point and deploy the right content to the right people at the right time. This grants brands control over their owned assets at a foundational level, which can transfer across all marketing assets and channels.

With the MACH-6, brands can understand how their assets meet consumer needs and become empowered to make meaningful connections for the long term.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels; Thank you!

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