- July 27, 2017
- Posted by: Robert Rose
- Category: Content Marketing
Congratulations. You’ve created a strong business case and a strategy for your content marketing initiative. You’ve created a set of deliverables that provide you with a great baseline of information. And, while many of the components of this strategy may feel familiar to you and to your team, much of what follows now will feel like a brand new concept in your business. And guess what? It is. It’s going to change everything you know, and really nothing you actually do.
At its very core, content marketing is something you as a marketer have been doing since day one. You provide valuable information that supports your product or service without a “hard sell.” Content marketing is about celebrating what makes your business unique. It is, inherently, about making the business more social and more human. It’s about telling the story of the unique YOU. It’s about what YOU and YOUR ORGANIZATION stand for. It’s about the ideas that YOU bring to the table. And, just like there isn’t one way to have a great conversation, nor one “correct” way to tell a story, your content marketing strategy will be unique to you. And that’s how it changes everything you know.
The process of content marketing — of telling your story — is new to you. Learning how to transform your organization into one that creates “subscribers” may be different than what you or your team has known in the past. And that’s the critical piece. Now that you have a strategy in place you have to make it real.
Getting Real With Your Content Marketing Process
So here you are — you’re passionate. You believe in your cause. But you have this new strategy that no one in your business has ever executed. You have a business case and a game plan for creating stories that have yet to be written, and conversations yet to be had. How the heck are you ever going to create and apply a generalized, repeatable, and measurable process over the top of that? Where’s your template? Help! Where’s the map?
At this point, there are probably several things racing through your head:
- What happens if we fail to get return on all this content that we’re producing?
- What happens if no one cares what we’re saying?
- What happens if our customers start saying negative things about us when we put ourselves out there?
- How are we going to get all the internal stakeholders involved in this new strategy?
- Why will anyone in our business care?
Is there even a way to win this game?
This new process operates at a speed, agility, and nuance that most organizations just simply aren’t used to — and in many cases simply can’t keep up with. Remember, we’re not only defining and creating a “publishing” process — we’re also inventing a “listening” process (aka, setting up listening posts). And we’re opening this process up to a much wider, coordinated effort between all of the stakeholders in the organization. This means that we’ll be engaging everybody from marketing, sales, customer service, product development, finance, legal — and even the C-suite. The old adage is true — now everybody really does have two jobs: theirs and marketing.
Now it’s Your Turn to Play the Game
Whether you are managing the content marketing process for a B2B product company, a non-profit, a government agency, an online retailer, a media publisher, or your own small consultancy, the process you put in place will have broad implications on your strategy.
How do you create an optimized process that will support your content marketing and set you up for success? You need a framework of a human-driven process (facilitated by technology) to close the loop on managing an online and offline content marketing engine. This framework of a content marketing process has four stages:
- Create and Manage
- Optimize, Aggregate, and Curate
- Converse and Listen
- Measure and Learn
Let’s take a look at each.
Create and Manage.
The key to a compelling story is compelling content. To create that content, you’re going to need to assemble a team, develop a workflow that makes sense, establish the rules you’ll all play by, and agree to follow them.
Optimize, Aggregate, and Curate.
Once you have an idea of the story you want to tell, the people who can tell it, and the tools that will help you tell it more efficiently, you’ll need to take specific steps to give yourself the best chance for success. First, you’ll need to align the right people in your organization and motivate them to help you tell the story in the right way. As you’ll quickly learn, you don’t have an organization that’s chock full of excellent — or even motivated — writers. You’ll have to optimize your content creation and aggregate and curate content from as many sources as necessary to get the best stories out.
Your new content marketing process is going to strike a unique balance between creativity, technology, engagement, communication, persuasiveness, measurement, and finance. In today’s environment, it’s not only important to be creative, insightful, and measured with your external communications, you must also be creative, insightful, and measured with your internal communication. As marketers, you need to be aware that never before have both external and internal communications been so closely linked. If in the words of Glengarry Glen Ross marketing used to be A-B-C (Always Be Closing), today’s marketing mantra is A-B-C — Always Be Communicating.
Converse and Listen.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Once you put your content out there, you’ll have to stay focused not only on what you say, but also on what others say back to you — and about you.
The old cautionary cliché from our .com days of “if you build it they will come” is true here as well. But it’s not enough to just publish your content. To create passionate subscribers, you’ll have to share your content … evangelize it … and basically light the campfire that people will see to gather around it.
But then you’ll need to listen as well. You’ll need to be prepared not only for the conversation that comes from your published content, but also for the groups that form and the stories that are told beyond the bounds of your marketing. You’ll need to be aware of those stories so that you can choose to lead them, follow them, or (quite frankly) get out of the way.
Measure and Learn.
Measurement done right gives you benchmarks that provide insight into the effectiveness of your stories so that you might improve the results by changing the creative or the tactics. This includes everything from the old school method of just test, iterate, publish, repeat, to using data to optimize your content on the fly.
On the other hand, measurement done wrong — and leveraged to “prove” how well or how poorly you are doing — boxes you in. In Chapter 11, we’ll show you how to design a measurement process that isn’t built to help you “prove,” but rather to improve over time.
And that will close the loop of your process — and bring you right back to creation and management. Or, assuming you start from scratch, you can go right back to strategy and start over.