Many companies put months and months into rolling out their inaugural content operation processes—which makes sense, as content production is complex. Teams run focus groups to identify important themes, conduct internal interviews to identify areas of thought leadership, and build analytics systems to capture return on investment. This level of forethought is valuable.
Complex organizations especially find their messages “lost in translation.” When your task is to unite diverse teams around a single narrative, upfront research is imperative.
But planning time is also a potential opportunity cost. The more time you spend “thinking” about creating content, the less time you spend executing. The less time you spend executing, the more your company goes unheard. The more your company’s stories go unheard, the more lost your organization is likely to become in a world awash in data fragmentation and noise. As PwC points out in a recent report, consumer fragmentation is accelerating. Content helps organizations stay ahead of it.
Expedite Your Content Production and Planning—Strategically
Planning can help you get ahead in a competitive digital environment. But it can also leave you overthinking and second-guessing your judgment calls. What is the right balance between strategic planning and action?
The answer to that question varies among companies and encompasses many variables. If your business operates in a regulated environment, you might need to involve multiple stakeholders. If your team is small or you’re part of a budget-constrained team, it may take some patience to finalize a plan that complements your business.
No matter your business size or type, there are simple steps to expedite the pace at which you take your content strategy from zero to one. Here are three tips to consider:
1. Plan a Test Campaign
Learn by doing. Devote a small budget to developing four pieces of content and seeing how they perform.
Right off-the-bat, recognize that you’re soft-launching your content strategy for the purpose of collecting performance data. Each of these blog posts should be a high-impact asset that reaches audiences at all stages of the marketing funnel. Plan to write customer stories, conduct interviews with experts in your industry, and create a best practices guide. Invest your planning time into strategy-setting for each asset, so you can learn how it performs.
Keep running test campaigns with the same content: you could create email campaigns for segments in your customer relationship management system (CRM), share the individual articles over social media, or reach out to existing customers. Keep testing the waters until you gain a level of predictability. Move as slowly as budget permits.
By the time you’re ready to build out a more thorough content strategy, you’ll already have data on hand. Plan while executing.
2. Pick Three to Four Themes as Focal Points
As a business storyteller, your role is to contribute helpful information to the industry that you serve. That’s the base layer. You also need to tell an interesting narrative, offer valuable insight, and share a unique story. The digital universe is saturated with information, and there is more content for people to digest then there is the time in the day to process it all.
Think with Google says that the way that people digest information, audiences engage with companies, and people interact with one another, is through a series of micro-moments. Aim to make an impact through each of these interactions. Tell a part of your company’s story.
To be the most impactful, pick themes that:
- Speak to your customers’ pain points
- Share knowledge from your company
- Tie back to your product marketing pillars
- Are evergreen to your industry
This approach will help ensure that your content is functional in communicating a value proposition, plugs into your marketing processes, and has a long shelf life. Choosing themes will help you reinforce a brand narrative and become known.
3. Choose Low-Hanging Distribution Points
Your first phase of content will be about learning, fine-tuning, and optimization. The best way to pursue these goals is to return to the roots of what makes content effective: blog posts, infographics, eBooks, and longer relationships are mechanisms for building relationships at scale.
Low-hanging distribution channels include your networks and customer base. As a simple step, you can ask your business development, executive, sales, marketing, and customer success teams to link to your content from their email signatures. Or, you can ask them to share interesting content as conversation starters.
See how your audience responds to your content. Who reaches out to you? Who responds? Who shares?
This information will help you determine where to invest distribution dollars and time when you’re ready to scale up your efforts. You’re a stronger magnet to audiences when you know what audiences to attract.
Plan by doing, collect data, run campaigns to develop predictability, and invest in assets that you can repurpose. Build your content strategy through execution. Keep learning and evolving rather than striving for perfection off-the-bat.