What would improving the way you execute your content marketing initiative look like?
What would it mean to create more and better content faster, on a continuous basis, despite the constraints of your current resources, expertise and budget?
What functional and business outcomes would improve?
Want some help? No problem. We (and others) can help.
But first, we’ll need a copy of your marketing plan, including:
Business Strategy, Goals & Plans: Make sure it contains your primary business goals and associated metrics. Include your go-to-customer (sales) strategy, plans and metrics. If you sell through the channel, make sure you include them in your marketing and content plans.
Marketing Strategy, Goals and Specific Plans: It will be important to align your content marketing investments and priorities to your sales, channel and marketing plan. In addition to your core strategy we will need your demand generation and management plan. If you are using marketing automation, and lead nurturing is important, content will be a critical enabler. We’ll need your lead definitions.
Content Strategy: Your plan should also contain your content strategy. This defines what content to create and why, based upon your business objectives and the “job” you want your content to perform. Strategy is fundamentally about defining a unique and (hopefully) defensible position — in this case, for your content. It’s also about tradeoffs — deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do. Documenting all of this is the best way to gain agreement, alignment and consistent execution.
Target Markets and Ideal Customer Profile: Be sure your plan includes target market segments, especially your “ideal customer profile” and personas.
Personas: Hopefully your personas contain deep understanding of your buyers. We’ll spend some time with you on personas, but hopefully you have documented their business problems and the underlying elements causing those high level problems. (See Problem-Cause model video)
The capabilities of your offer should be documented and mapped to the causes they address. And, we’ll want to know how each buyer profile thinks about value, and how this informs their key decision criteria.
Customer Engagement Model: We’ll need your customer engagement model, including your customer’s buying process and your aligned sales process. The buying process should go beyond simple stage identification to include triggers and indicators, buyer activities and decisions, and your conversion (call-to-action) plans for each stage. If you haven’t mapped your buyer’s key questions, along with your existing content, to each stage and persona, we can help you with this, but it’s got to be done.
Content Use Case Requirements: It’s important to identify and document all marketing, sales and channel use cases that require content support. This will help you plan, prioritize and budget. But it can also help you leverage each project and resource into greater outputs. You probably don’t have this, but whatever you can provide is important. (For more about this see this blog post.)
Competitive Assessments: Most companies have a documented competitive landscape, especially for use by sales.
Today, your content can be your first “offer” to buyers, even before they become paying customers. This means your content must compete, just like your products and services. You’ll need to assess your market for the content that is currently being deployed. Not just from your direct competitors, but from analysts, in media outlets and other influencers such as bloggers. You don’t want to make investments in “me three” content.
Notice all of the above have nothing to do with your company and its products or services. You need to be as familiar with external market, competitor and especially buyer factors as you are your internal factors, in order to create high quality content that will make the business impacts you desire.
Vision, Point-of-View, Messages, Storylines and Language: We used to call this “messaging.”
The problem with messaging is it’s too “us” focused. Our message is what we want to tell others. We need a mindshift here.
Content must convey useful insights that buyers value because it helps them understand their business issues, their options and how to make the best buying decisions. This must precede our explanation about “us” — why we are the best provider they can select. This supporting material must be documented. It will be used in every piece of content your organization creates — from simple blogs to major content works.
Your Current Operations Program: So, how do you execute today? What’s our starting point? Execution is about operations. Creative is important, but we’ve assessed the “underlying cause” of the content marketing execution problem to be fundamentally operations, and especially process oriented. As the head of a world-class creative agency told me, “yeah, we don’t do operational process.”
Process: We’ll need some understanding of how you currently:
- Prepare and plan for each content project
- Acquire inputs for content projects
- Create content, especially different formats
- Manage, not just your finished content assets, but your source digital and component assets that comprise finished products
- Deploy these assets to internal and external content creators
- Tailor finished work products for persona and situational relevance
- Deliver content through available channels, and which you think you need to support
- Track, measure, report and analyze content consumption and sharing
- Manage your operations program
How are governance issues documented: standards, policies, workflows, procedures, methods and best practices, supporting checklists?
What current metrics do you rely upon in running your operation, and what analytics capabilities do you have?
What people resources to you have — internal and external — and how do they need to be supported?
What are your primary infrastructure, tools and technology realities and constraints?
Leveraged Content Supply Chain: These inputs are required for any professional content operation. We will then show you how to improve and apply each function in a leveraged, publishing process. But we’ll integrate the process with your current elements that work well for you.
A better operations process will optimize content investments, each project and key resources into better outcomes. Content quality, greater output for more complete use case coverage, and immediate availability for key constituents and audiences are required to deliver the business outcomes expected of content marketing initiatives.
We can help. Where do you need to start?