1. How to Level Up Your Content Operations

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      At some point B2B executives realize that adding resources and technology to the traditional content operations process produces only marginal improvements. Digital era content requirements are rising exponentially. They will not be addressed with the current process. This will become even more evident when marketing begins to adequately support B2B sales content requirements, as well as those of the sales channel. That will probably require you to level up content operations.   Background on B2B Content Operations All content is outsourced, or should be. By this I mean sales and marketing people, and their audiences, use and consume content. They don’t create it. They rely on internal or external content development teams. I also mean subject experts who possess the knowledge that informs content should not create it (mostly). They have a “day job.” Their domain expertise may not include the skills required to design and create effective content. Subject...
  2. Change your content process to leverage accelerate and scale

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      When it comes to customer facing content, much is written about creative techniques, tools and infrastructure. But there is little thinking or discussion about content process change. By changing your content process for strategy and operations you can leverage resources and assets, accelerate production time to real-time, and scale outputs without compromise. My thinking is influenced by the re-engineering experience in the 1990’s. The refrain we hear today about return-on-investment for content marketing is very similar to complaints in the 90’s about lack of evidentiary ROI on investments in personal computing technologies — hardware and software. I was influenced by the writing of British cybernetician Stafford Beer who wrote: “The question that asks, ‘given my my business, how should I use the microprocessor?’ is fundamentally the wrong question. A better question would be, ‘given the microprocessor, how should I design my business?'” Companies re-engineered their accounting, manufacturing and product...
  3. Content Operations Can Create Marketing and Selling Breakthroughs

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      Marketing and selling content operations isn’t sexy. But it could be one of the most important focus areas for marketing leaders. See Is Content Operations Your Next Focus Area? Almost every week I see fresh survey results that continue to reflect the long-standing challenges that B2B marketers face (Content Marketing Institute). More importantly, I speak with people in companies and hear the same issues. The question is, “given all the internal and external expertise and creative resources available to organizations, why do these persistent and near universal content problems still exist?”   McKinsey On Digital Marketing Operations This post was inspired by the McKinsey Insights article: How digital marketing operations can transform business. Here’s McKinsey’s assessment of current state: “Marketing operations are certainly not the sexiest part of marketing, but they are becoming the most important one. With businesses unable to keep pace with evolving consumer behavior and the marketing landscape,...
  4. B2B Customer Content Operations Manifesto

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      The custom content business is a difficult business. It’s a difficult business due to the economics of the underlying content operations model, as well as poor inputs from inefficient clients. If you’re a B2B CMO pursuing content dependent strategies such as content marketing, automated lead generation and nurturing, sales and channel enablement (among others), you are now in that business. Agencies and production companies that produce good work products, and are profitable, do so by exploiting poor inputs and inefficient clients. And clients pay dearly for this. The primary mechanisms they use to do this are to charge for: Strategy Creative Retainers (agency of record or annual contracts) Change orders These mechanisms are not available to you with your internal content operations. Which means you’re left with all the negatives. This is why you (and most content marketers) struggle to: produce a constant stream of audience (buyer) relevant content … in the many...
  5. Content Marketing Gap: What to do, How to do it, How to operationalize

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    When it comes to content marketing, there’s near universal agreement on “what to do,” what actions organizations must take. “How to do it” advice tends to focus on tactic-specific techniques. We see a significant execution gap between these two information categories. The gap is how organizations operationalize their content strategy. We believe this missing element is the reason content under-performs, organizations experience the perennial “challenges that B2B marketers face” (Content Marketing Institute), and demonstrating suitable return on content investments is elusive. The nature of the information delivered in this post is such that it requires explanation with visual support. This indicated that video is the best medium. It’s also an example of a practical use of video to deliver educational information, not just to entertain. This article provides a deeper understanding of a business or enterprise class content strategy. Executive Summary – 6 Competencies for Marketing and Sales Content Strategy This article with explanatory...
  6. How to improve content performance and operations output

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      Marketing leaders, and the executive team to which they are accountable, understandably want to improve performance of customer facing content, get better outputs from content operations, and better returns on content investments. At the recent Content Marketing World, content ROI was a prominent topic. This post will provide an overview vision of what you must do to tune your content operations for optimal performance. Content operations performance means the ability to reliably and consistently meet content standards you’ve identified: Quality Timing (continuous and rapid time-to-market) Quantity (to cover requirements with versions and formats) Audience relevance As well as other factors you’ve identified (reuse). There are so many factors marketers must optimize, starting with resolving their challenges, as well as new, digital era content criteria.   We will explain our recommendation for an operational shift in the first video below. The second video illustrates how this works using a new, continuous publishing, or “content...
  7. Why Content Operations Is Your Next Focus Area

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      Business-to-business selling organizations that have adopted inbound and content marketing strategies to deliver relevant, useful, educational content to prospective buyers should give this question serious consideration. Four factors implicate this as a possible requirement: Universal business drivers Each company’s go-to-market goals, strategies and plans Content strategy and requirements Challenges that constrain content performance  Universal Business Drivers In our post Business Trends Indicate Need for Enterprise Content Strategy and Operations Management we presented relevant insights from several prominent analyst firms on top business trends that have implications for customer facing content: the digital enterprise, digital marketing, digital content, enterprise content strategy and operations.  As these analysts make clear, content is a strategic imperative, and primary driver of top business objectives. Changes in several areas are contributing to the need to adopt a unified marketing and sales content strategy that goes beyond marketing, websites and contentprojects, among many others: Buyer expectations...
  8. Don’t Just Curate Content – Harvest It

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    This blog originally published on the Sandhill.com blog. Curate content to address many content challenges marketers face. Current curation practices focus on automatically generating newsletters, primarily based on third party articles. This approach severely under-utilizes this important tactic. The harvest step is perhaps the most significant part of our curation practice. When we curate content, both internally developed and third-party content, we harvest specific elements from within the source content itself. This reduces or eliminates creation by downstream users, and reduces the time effort for new content creation.   Don’t Just Curate Content – Harvest It! Enterprise marketing leaders and chief content officers use many tactics to serve numerous content constituents and their use case requirements. The emergence of the digital enterprise elevates requirements as groups beyond marketing, including sales and channel sales partners, but also customer service and HR (talent acquisition), must be supported in their use of content and content marketing tactics. One...
  9. Why Content Creation Isn’t Everyone’s Job

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      I read with interest John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing blog Why Content Creation Is Everyone’s Job. The post raises good ideas with, in my opinion, the wrong conclusion.  It’s a short post, I suggest you read it. I’d like to offer a different perspective and approach. This is a teachable moment. The lesson involves the difference between thinking like a marketer, and thinking like a publisher. It illustrates a new reality all organizations face, but is especially important for enterprise marketers. The new reality is: the traditional, project oriented, creative craftsman approach to content, cannot meet new, digital content and marketing requirements. The problem and premise is pretty well stated in the blog: “The need for content has moved beyond a traditional marketing department’s ability to create because the content an organization must produce today represents the voice of an organizations strategic point of view.” But the conclusion in...
  10. A Strategic Approach to Content – Repurpose vs Multipurpose Design

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      How would the way you create content and manage your content operation change if you didn’t know the: Intended audience Purpose or intended use cases for the content User experience to evoke Key points to include and exclude Desired outcomes and associated calls to action Required length or format? If you intend to repurpose content, this is exactly what you are facing. If you want to get more out of content investments – to meet content quality, timing and availability, use case coverage, version and format requirements, in light of normal budget and resource constraints – you must resolve this dilemma.   Repurpose vs. Reformat I see a lot of confusion about the concepts repurposing and reformatting. They are not the same. Most people mean reformat rather than repurpose. Take a whitepaper, webinar, etc and “turn it into” a blog, an infographic, chop it up into little videos or...
  11. How to execute content marketing

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        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...
  12. Before Your Next Content Project

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      This post addresses related, but different, content outsourcing and in-sourcing project best practices. Outsourcing Content Creation I have seen many companies struggle setting up outsourced content creation projects due to inadequate preparation and documentation. Content vendors often prefer it this way. Your inefficiency, or ignorance, is their “value add” — and higher billing. Often, preparation work, in the guise of “research,” occupies a significant portion of the content project’s time, effort and budget. This may have been acceptable in the traditional, periodic, “point production” content outsourcing model. But organizations today must create a constant stream of buyer relevant content to satisfy a broad use case requirement map. After content vendors come up their learning curve, conduct their research, and deliver their work product, lots of knowledge walks out the door. Undocumented knowledge. Some or most of this knowledge will be needed for somebody’s content project. Probably pretty soon.  ...
  13. Got “content” challenges? Apply the problem-cause model

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    Serious practitioners of content marketing inevitably face significant content challenges. But sales professionals do as well — especially to conduct effective change conversations with customers. Surveys, as well as client discussions about top content challenges, reveal the operational nature of the underlying causes of many of content related problems. Operational Issues However, I seldom see content strategy guidelines address operational issues. This is a major shortcoming of current thinking. Content strategy and planning for content marketing is a different and complex task for most newcomers. But if you look at the challenges early practitioners have faced, you will want to figure this out quickly. One of the most useful models we use we call the “problem-cause model”. Like many powerful ideas, this idea is simple. But work with it and you will experience important insights that will help with your content strategy and execution. Problem-Cause Model Explained In this 4...

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