Overcoming Common Challenges to Building a Content Operation

7 minute read

Upland Admin

While under greater pressure than ever to deliver results, marketing is operating amid greater complexity than ever due to the digital revolution: the rapid expansion and development of new teams, tools, and channels. A solid content operation tames this chaos by establishing the processes that make up the planning, production, distribution, and analysis of content for those teams, tools, and channels.

Developing a mature content operation is a significant undertaking, but one the marketing community increasingly acknowledges as yielding immense benefits, as SiriusDecisions notes:

Content strategy, content operations and content marketing disciplines are still immature functions in many b-to-b organizations, and the lack of a strategic and formalized approach to content…must be prioritized in strategy and planning efforts.

Organizations that prioritize content transformation in their digital transformation roadmaps and investments will gain a long-term competitive advantage.

Kapost is fortunate to have partnered with hundreds of the world’s leading B2B marketing organizations in their effort to increase the maturity of their content operations. Through these partnerships, we’ve gathered quite a few data points and stories on what it takes to build a successful content operation and also several patterns around the three biggest challenges that impede the development of a mature content operation.

Challenge #1: Executive Alignment

A coherent–and effective–customer experience is difficult to provide through the chaos of the digital revolution. A solid content operation provides the focus needed for a unified customer experience and foundation of marketing, but without support and commitment across the organization, how can it succeed? As SiriusDecisions indicates:

Operationalizing the content model…must be owned and championed internally by an executive (e.g. CMO, COO or even the CEO) with power or influence over all key functions.

Executive leaders must comprehend the value of a structured content operation and champion it across the marketing organization. They must understand the change required of their colleagues and require the participation of their team in the content operation, and, most importantly, they must understand the change required of themselves as leaders and be willing to comply.

Even if the executive has “signed off” on the project, that level of support is not sufficient. The executive sponsor(s) must be the main champion of the entire endeavor using their influence across the organization to drive the operation’s success.

Challenge #2: Process Governance

The major change in developing a mature content operation is that teams no longer operate in their own silos but instead align to a common strategy and create core content to reuse across all channels. This change, however, is completely dependent upon the different teams actually aligning on a common strategy and choosing the initiatives that will operate across teams, tools, and channels.

The challenge in this fundamental change is that even with buy-in from leadership, marketing organizations cannot achieve a true integrated marketing process by continuing to operate under status quo. Marketing teams must deliberately change their process and introduce governance of the content operation. While this governance is supported by technology tools, it primarily occurs through the interaction and decision-making of marketing leadership. And if leadership doesn’t provide this governance of the content operation, the chances of success for the whole operation are significantly diminished.

Challenge #3: Change Management

Beyond the leadership level, there are also changes that need to be made by the wider members of the marketing team to implement a successful content operation. They need to change how they operate, adopt new tools, and interact with a broader set of colleagues in order for content to be managed effectively.

While those team members can be trained on new processes and tools, many aren’t well informed of the wider strategy behind the content operation and the benefits they should expect to gain from change. Without understanding the wider strategy and benefits of a content operation, marketing team members can resist participating in the operation, lowering its chances of success.

Changing the way an individual views his or her relationship with – or role in – the creation of content requires effective change management to mitigate fear and uncertainty, provide the required training to facilitate implementation, and ultimately achieve the philosophical buy-in required for long-term operational change.

– SiriusDecisions, Operationalizing the SiriusDecisions Content Model

Front-line marketers must understand that while they may produce less total content, it doesn’t mean their role is any less essential to the content operation because the wider team is more intelligently creating core content and reusing it for all channels.

Kapost Change Management Solutions

As Kapost has recognized common challenges to the successful implementation of a mature content operation, it has developed change management solutions to overcome those challenges. Borrowing from the best practices observed among our own customers as well as industry standard best practices, these solutions are designed to help you on your journey to building a high functioning, highly mature marketing organization.

#1: Executive Alignment Package

The Executive Alignment Package ensures that all key leaders are aligned and fully supportive of the marketing organization’s vision and priorities. This package facilitates the workshop where all of the key leaders of the teams, tools, and channels involved in the scope of the content operation convene to formalize the organization’s:

  • Vision Statement
  • Opportunity Statement
  • Compelling Reason to Act
  • Risk Assessment
  • Content Operations Scope across Teams, Tools, and Channels

The output of these discussions are then documented in the Content Operations Vision Charter (COVC). All leaders across the scope of the content operation then literally sign off on the charter. As a result of this process, key leaders of the content operation are fully aligned to and supportive of the effort to build up the operation.

Additionally, the value of the charter isn’t only around the alignment of the leadership team, but in how the leadership team has a living resource to discuss the vision and priorities with their teams. Teams can also use the charter to prioritize their work and decision-making by considering:

  1. Will this help us achieve our vision?
  2. Will this help us maximize the opportunity we stand to achieve?
  3. Will this help us act swiftly and in a coordinated way?
  4. Will this minimize the chance of the identified risks will happen?
  5. Will this minimize the impact if the identified risks happen?

#2: Content Governance Board Package

Through the Content Governance Board (CGB) package, customers develop the process of governing their content operation, enabling the various silos to come together and execute content in an integrated fashion.

The CGB package manages the construction of a board who will meet regularly to approve the cross-functional initiatives that will drive the content operation, monitor the progress of those initiatives, and review their performance. Within a Content Governance Board Charter, the Kapost consultant will help scope and develop the roster of board members, identifying their roles and responsibilities, establish a meeting cadence and agendas, provide training to board members, and set success criteria for the board.

In order to develop a customized CGB set up for success, Kapost consultants facilitate a current state analysis of your content operation and help craft the desired future state, blending best practices to fit your marketing organizations structure and needs. With this plan in place, the consultant will help create a change management project plan to help you implement improvements and the required changes to achieve a highly functioning governance board.

#3: Marketing Team Empowerment Package

The Marketing Team Empowerment package ensures that all of the team members within the content operation understand the overall strategy and understand how the operation will benefit them.

This package facilitates a series of workshops with marketing team members lead by project leads within the organization–sometimes even the executive sponsors—and Kapost consultants. Referencing the Content Operations Vision Charter, these workshops outline the strategy of the content operation and how the team will work differently within the context of the operation. They review the expectations of team members around participating in the content operation, and they clearly identify the benefits that team members will experience from their participation. These workshops are done both in person and via webinars.

Through the Marketing Team Empowerment Package, the support of the content operation at the grassroots is secured, significantly boosting the odds of success for the operation.

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