Lessons from Kapost’s First Content Café

9 minute read

Upland Admin

Earlier this month I had the joy of breaking bread—including croissants and the best french toast you’ve ever had—with content marketing leaders from the Boston area at the first Kapost Content Café.

It was a truly remarkable group of people. Not only did they get up early to commute to the city and talk content before drinking coffee, but they also wasted no time meeting strangers and brainstorming solutions to some of the biggest challenges in marketing today.

(Don’t worry—we provided the coffee. And did I mention the melt-in-your-mouth pastries?)

They were almost as delicious as the conversation, but not quite. So let’s get back to the meaty discussions and themes from the Boston Content Café.

Lightning Presentations: Democratize Content

Three leaders graced the stage to share their experiences. One led 200% company growth in one year, another democratized content internally, and the third cracked the code to analyzing and distributing content, so it actually makes an impact (content analytics lovers, this one’s for you).

Scaling a Content Operation

As light filled the second floor of the Bostonia Public House, Sheila Lahar, Director of Content Marketing at DataRobot, took the stage to kick off the morning. Being the first act wasn’t nearly as scary building a content machine from scratch—which she also did.

“We really had nothing. We were building from the ground up,” said Sheila.

With no structure or processes in place, there was no easy way to track what content existed. Their content wasn’t aligned to strategy and impossible to track. Demand generation was left with nothing to promote. And the company was growing rapidly—they needed to fix the problems at scale.

Sheila was tasked with creating a content machine to solve these challenges. Knowing they needed more content tied to business objectives, she started with an audit of the content they had. How did it map to the buyer’s journey? What did other teams—like sales and product—need?

From there, gathered all the content into one platform (Kapost), and tagged it to persona, industry, and funnel stage. With everything mapped out, the team came to an agreement on templated workflows so they could make sure the appropriate reviews from outside of marketing still happened in one place.

In just one year, DataRobot has already shed much of the chaos that plagued their team. Now they produce more content, all of which is strategically aligned to fill gaps in their buyer’s journeys. Demand generation is happy to have content to share, and marketing can “make sure we’re paying attention to the metrics.”

They’ve come so far; they’re on their way to content operations 2.0.

Democratize Content

Frankie Barbato, Editorial Operations Specialist at Bain & Company, took the mic next. Frankie provided operational oversight for the global editorial department.

When she joined Bain & Co. a year ago, she realized the team was publishing 20% more content than they had in 2016. With that much growth in production—and a growing team to match—Frankie saw an immediate opportunity for a value add: content visibility.

She knew they needed to do four key things:

  1. Avoid stagnation: PowerPoint decks and Excel docs are out of date almost immediately after updated.
  2. Anticipate needs: Give people the information they need, before they ask and early in the project’s timeline.
  3. Provide unparalleled access: Who needs to know the pipeline? Share it.
  4. Say no to duplicates: If you’re copying and pasting information, you’re duplicating.

Now their team is collaborating more than ever, leading to improved transparency and effective targeting—overall, they are “more dynamic.”

The biggest benefit is that now their team knows “what we’re producing and when.”

That’s a major win!

Content Is Only Beneficial If People Can Find It

Just ask Kristy Tarr, Head of Marketing Analytics and Operations at FactSet.

Kristy’s lean marketing team was producing a lot of content for their global organization, and quickly recognized, “from a technical standpoint, content is really only important if we can get it out there and utilized by sales.”

The challenge was that the team was producing a lot of content—and it was all living in different locations. Each department had its own website for internal content, and then there was SharePoint and the marketing folder. Inevitably when pushing out content, it wouldn’t end up in all of the places it needed to go.

So, while the sales team recognized marketing was doing a ton of work, they simply didn’t know where to find the content.

Sound familiar?

Enter Kapost: Unlike with their homegrown solution, the team could now take advantage of connection points with other solutions they were already using. That meant bringing the content to Salesforce, with an out-of-the-box integration.

Months after implementation, the marketing team had better collaboration with sales, consistent analytics to see what internal teams were consuming, and a structure of custom fields that allowed them to link content to sales opportunities in Salesforce.

Customers now get the content for the product they want, without sifting through the website. As for marketing-sales alignment, learn from Kristy:

“We build trust by showing sales what we’re working on.”

It’s no wonder why they won a sales enablement award.

Next Up: Real Content Café Conversations

After the presentations, attendees broke into six groups to identify their top challenges, pick one, and brainstorm solutions. Here were the challenges they tackled:

Cross-Team Alignment

It wasn’t just the presenters who saw the problem here. All marketers know we can no longer live in silos.

Which also brings us to governance and ownership. One attendee wisely reminded the room, “we have this idea that content is owned by marketing, but that’s not the case. A lot of teams make content.”

Mic drop.

Talk about a huge reason to collaborate across teams to ensure that all stakeholders are part of your content operations strategy and can show each piece of content ties to that strategy.

How? Communicate processes and map strategy with the team. What do stakeholders need from content? What parts of the workflow need to be there? What doesn’t get done?

On top of that, the room was in consensus that a calendar is a key way to give visibility to all teams. If you attended the SiriusDecisions Summit, that’s no surprise.

An Integrated MarTech Stack

Of all the problems facing marketers, what made table number two pick integrations? Listen up:

The group explained that integrations are crucial for two reasons:

  1. They provide an upfront connection with other tools and backend analytics.
  2. Both are necessary to serve the mission of your MarTech stack and your organization.

At the same time, a table across the room realized that, while they were all pursuing different solutions, they were united by the same underlying problem: Having a lot of solutions.

“It’s disorganized, and we need to create a process that’s trackable,” one attendee explained.

They knew that their process must be scalable and trackable between and beyond different solutions with manual dependencies. No longer can we lean on a single person who knows how to use a particular tool. And no longer can individual tech stand alone.

Daunting. But never fear—the group had sound advice: Put discipline in place before starting with integrations. Audit which technologies you already have and consider what technologies you need. Where is there overlap? Eliminate redundancies and prioritize the big picture over individual point solutions.

Engaging Internal and External Audiences

Technology alone can’t get us marketers where we need to be. It’s going to take people—all of them.

60% of CMOs change in a year. Let that sink in, then think—what does this do for team dynamics? Why would a stakeholder commit to a strategy if they assume it’s going to change?

Table three advised holding monthly editorial meetings with stakeholders in order to humanize the workload each contributor takes on. But it also takes high-level messaging to inspire people before things get ugly.

Beyond that, marketers need to fight to engage their audience. People want to consume content, so make it as easy as possible. Or, using my favorite word from the morning, make it “frictionless.” This includes personalization, quick videos, and prioritizing the channels where your target audience members already live.

Organization & Prioritization

One of the best questions asked to our panelists?

“What about when you’re creating too much content? You have blog posts live that are three years old.”

Ooofta, friend, I HEAR you. I feel you.

Kapost’s marketing team is currently going through our backlog, and it’s not easy. But the morning warriors—err, marketers—came up with a place to start: with a performance audit. Dig deep, past vanity metrics, to identify what’s working and what’s not.

Help yourself upfront when you create new content by having a common taxonomy and tagging content by message, persona, and funnel stage (thanks, Sheila!), so you can quickly identify what content gaps you have—and where you have an abundance.

It’s easy to grow too fast, buy too many tools, and find yourself with a brand problem. By staking a flag into prioritization and organization, there is a way out. The key is to do your team a favor and set it up strategically from the start using all the tips stated here.

Remember: Others have made the mistakes, so you don’t have to!

Let’s Continue the Conversation

Don’t be shy—join the conversation at a Content Café that comes to your city with your own solutions and questions. Or find us on Twitter with #KapostContentCafé. Marketing challenges won’t be solved in a day—or in a blog post—but they can be chipped away at by a community of badass content nerds.

Join us at our next Content Café in Atlanta.

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