Hopefully by now your Christmas tree is down and the lights on your house are at least unplugged. It is, after all, almost February. But before we move further into a brave new year, let’s take a quick lesson on content marketing from that iconic holiday symbol—the Christmas tree.
Christmas trees tend to be polarizing symbols for the holiday season and everyone has their preferences.
Five years ago, my wife and I flip-flopped and went from being a real tree family to a fake tree family. Why? Simple. Fake trees are so much easier to manage. Unfortunately, content marketers don’t have the option between real and fake content. Content is a living, breathing organism that connects your marketing ecosystem and therefore needs to be managed.
This is where the chainsaws and forest management principles can improve your content strategy.
It’s all about management.
The first Chief of the U.S. Forrest Service (USFS), Gifford Pinchot, summed up the USFS forest management mission, “to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run.” From the smallest tree farm to the largest forest, forest management intensity varies from natural to interventional to active silviculture in pursuit of conservational or economic objectives.. Each of these philosophies strike a different balance between control/chaos, social/economic benefits, and asset/liability potential. While some forests benefit from the leave alone and natural management processes, this will never be true for content. Some 60-70% of B2B content goes unused, which leads to great inefficiencies in business.
I would advocate treating your content similar to the way that the USFS treats its high-value watershed forests—by investing appropriate resources that enable appropriate management and protection of these valuable assets. View your content as one of your top organizational resources, and invest in a proper content management solution. That allows you to treat your content with a similar gravity that is taken for those high-value forest properties.
Maybe you aren’t in a regulated industry with legal repercussions to mismanaged content like I am, but every dollar you’ve invested in content is at risk if you aren’t properly managing it.
Purpose-driven management delivers on the promised user experience.
As a child, I can vividly remember the musty smell of hay bales and the scratchy, bumpy ride through the fields to arrive at the Christmas Tree stand with neat rows of Fraser Firs, Blue Spruce, and Scotch pine trees ready to be cut, bagged, and brought home to decorate. Those neat rows of trees didn’t organically grow that way—grouped by type and size. This experience was crafted with great care, which added to the magic, memories, and tradition of the Christmas season for a variety of individuals.
Similarly, purpose-driven content management will support and deliver the proper balance of relevant information and entertainment to intended audiences. Research shows that only 35% of organizations have a documented content strategy. That means that 65% of us are just crossing our fingers and hoping that our content “tree farm” organically grows in nice neat rows organized by type, buying stage, and audience.
Only 35% of organizations have a documented content strategy. 65% of us are just crossing our fingers.
That’s never going to happen. So here’s a new year’s resolution for you: don’t overthink your content strategy, but get it documented.
Here are some guides for developing a documented strategy. The ability for your content to deliver meaningful engagement and memorable information is in your control—just make sure that you have a purpose-driven content strategy that supports and sustains your organizational purposes and award-worthy content.
Sometimes you need a chainsaw.
Chainsaws are quite possibly the manliest power tools on the planet, but also key tool for forest management.
As noted above, effective forest management always has an intended purpose. So too should content management. Foresters often need tools like chainsaws to manage growth. This could mean removing unhealthy trees to encourage forest growth or reduce wildfire risk, for example. It could also mean getting creative, and as transforming (or repurposing) an ugly stump into a life-like sculpture. Chainsaws are to foresters as scalpels are to surgeons—when in the right hands with a clear purpose, these tools can heal or hurt, create, or destroy.
While trees are the resource of foresters, content is the resource of marketers. Resources that aren’t managed well translate to lost value, unclear purpose, and higher liability. I’m willing to wager that your content could use some cleaning up, thinning out, and repurposing this year.
Create a purposeful content management strategy and don’t be afraid to cut out, clean up, and repurpose your content resources to align to your newly documented strategy. Let’s make 2015 the year of increased content value, documented content strategies, and limited content risks.
Brett Wilson, Western U.S. Water Utilities Take Financial Responsibility for Reducing Watershed Wildfire Risk, Circle of Blue, June 2013
Thompson MP, Scott J, Langowski PG, Gilbertson-Day JW, Haas JR, Bowne EM. Assessing Watershed-Wildfire Risks on National Forest System Lands in the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States. Water. 2013; 5(3):945-971. http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/5/3/945/htm
U.S. Forest Service Website, Managing the Land, http://www.fs.fed.us/managing-land/national-forests-grasslands