In a study from a few years ago, the Content Marketing Institute found that the biggest challenge for marketers was producing content. 64% of marketers highlighted that very area as their biggest problem. Sending the content out was fine, building campaigns was OK too, but actually writing the content? It’s a major challenge.
This potentially leaves you scratching your head. You may have heard of content marketing, or at least know that blogging is a good modern marketing tactic. But if the people surveyed by the CMI - people who, let’s not forget, do content marketing as a full time job - can’t produce enough content, then how is your firm meant to do the same?
There’s no doubt that producing content is hard. It needs careful planning and research, to make sure that it appeals to your audience. Then someone has to physically write the content, which is likely to go through a number of drafts, before someone does any design work required and the same review process happens. Finally it gets signed off (or sent back to the drawing board!) and approved as a marketing message your firm wants to send out. Tough going!
It is possible, though, to streamline your content production and get your firm pulling in the right direction for a successful content marketing strategy. Here are our four tips for making it happen:
Establish consistent timescales, people and routines
It’s likely that producing content is not something that has previously been part of your firm’s remit, so establishing the time to do it within a normal working day, week or month can be difficult. If your content isn’t allocated a slot then it will continue to be missed off and ignored.
Start with people. Who’s going to do the writing and why? Don’t just jump on junior members of staff. It’s likely that the MD knows more about the industry and the clients you’re writing for.
Once you know who’s going to do the content work, give them a clear timescale and allow them to work to it. It’s no good allocating only an hour on the day you gave them a task and leaving them to get on with it. Consider giving them a ‘content afternoon’ on a specific day. That way there’s no temptation to just get on with normal daily workloads and let the important content slide on by.
Make the approval process clear and accountable
There’s nothing worse for a new content marketing effort than to find that you’re consistently stuck in approval hell! Imagine the employee you’ve identified having their ‘content afternoon’, producing the work and then never getting to see it published? It’s detrimental to your team and to your marketing.
Define how content will be approved at the very start, so that those involved in production know what to expect. If there is someone at a senior level who does not want to be involved in the marketing but does want to be involved in the approval (a common problem) then try to convince them that they at least need to see the planning stage, otherwise, how will they know why the content has been produced?
Once it has been settled upon, give those within the approval process clear timescales. Person A has two days to check and approve and must pass to Person B who has one day, that sort of thing.
Get used to ‘creative’ meetings. You’re going to need them!
It’s possible that you already work in a creative industry, but for many people who get started with content marketing, this isn’t the case and it takes them out of their comfort zone.
Creative ideas are fragile things. It only takes one bad one to ruin a strategy. A good one raised by a junior staff member, not picked up by a senior staff member, can see that junior staff member never bother to suggest an idea again.
Your content marketing effort will need ideas, and lots of them! The content you produce will have to be lively, creative, a little ‘out there’ to attract attention. If this doesn’t sound like you (and that’s not a problem if it doesn’t - lots of firms which are not like that produce great content) then you are going to need to establish an environment where it can be you. Consider monthly content meetings. If you struggle for ideas out of the blue then start by discussing your clients’ problems. How do you solve them and can you write about it? That’s your first blog idea, right there! No charge for that one!
Allow some extra flexibility
As mentioned, creativity is a fragile thing. Non-creative people can produce extremely creative work, but they have to be given the environment in which to do so.
Your strategy (and your content people) will need a level of flexibility. Whilst you should have the structure above, expect it to be broken and reformed, especially in the first few weeks of your content marketing push. Deadlines will be missed, some content will not succeed: it’s all part of the science of marketing. Learn what you can from it, bend and break your system and reforge it as something new.
Consider allowing some flexibility for people too. If you normally sit in separate offices, consider organising a ‘team room’ for those involved with the content marketing push. For the writers, consider allowing them to work from home or from a coffee shop; wherever they feel comfortable.
Overall, it’s important to remember that content marketing is something new to you, which will require adaptation. You can’t expect to work as you do in your day job and get the same results in content marketing; it’s just too new, too different a beast. Following the above steps will help you shape your firm into one which can carry out content marketing, without taking you too far from the path you need to follow for your vital everyday work.
Happy content creating and good luck!