I find that most business leaders either totally love or totally hate content marketing. I also think that few business leaders actually understand what content marketing is, let alone understand the power and benefits it can provide.
The purpose of this post, however, is not to educate you on what content marketing is necessarily, but instead, to help you organize, prioritize and maximize the investment you've already made in content marketing to date.
Most businesses have more content than they realize. Content can come in the form of presentations, vision statements, value propositions, corporate collateral, annual shareholder reports, videos - the list goes on.
What sometimes happens - particularly in large-scale organizations with numerous departments - is that each department tends to go off and create content in their own little world. This is not good strategically. If each area doesn't understand what the others are doing, that can lead to double-ups, slowing your overall progress, and a lack of understanding as to what messaging is being communicated by whom.
Even worse, it can send mixed messages to your potential customers. More than just slowing your efforts, this can actually end up working against you and your brand.
So what's a savvy business leader to do in this scenario? I have some answers that will help you improve your process.
Step 1: Know What Ya' Got
The first thing you need to do is get an understanding of what ya' have. Maximize to monetize is what I teach our customers.
You have to get a complete picture of the content assets that already exist within your organization. Gather together a database of what's been created, who created it, who it's written for, and the status of each piece. Is it good to go to market as it is? Does it need to be updated, or does it need to simply be thrown out entirely?
- Who is the intended audience? Who is it written for? What market segment, user persona? What other audiences could it provide value to?
- What products does it align to? What products and services does it align to within your company? Is it a corporate overview, or is it a piece of content specific to a product or services? Could even be a set or family of services.
- Is it relevant and up to date? Is it something that provides value to your audience, or is it simply a waste of words and space? When was it written? Is it still accurate? If not, why not? What will it take to get it up to date?
- Is it a competitive overview or comparison? Can it help you better compete? Does it offer benchmark data you can use to your advantage to prove your product is higher performing and delivers better results
- Who is the original owner? Who wrote it? What person? What department? This may be important if you want to update it
- Do you have the source file? If you hired an outside agency or a consultant to create a presentation or nice slick piece of collateral, do you own the source file? If not, do you, at a minimum, have the content for the file in a source document? If not, you'll want to note such, and ensure you get the hard copies of this category organized into a folder or set of folders so you can easily find it at a later time.
Step 2: Put a status on it
Is it 'In', 'Out', or 'Needs Updating'?
This part is easy - based on the above, and combined with a good, scientific gut feeling, you're going to assign one of three statuses to each piece of content. Simply put it is either 'In', 'Out' or 'To be updated'. Not too hard, hey?
- In - It's in like a good piece of chocolate - you're going to keep it in the arsenal and use it.
- Out: - It's out like the bath water from yesterday - it's gone, history, outta here
- To be updated - It's in, but it needs a facelift, refresh and updating to make it to the real world again
Step 3: Know What ya' Don't Got
Now that you know what you have, you also know what you don't have. Spend a good amount of time on Step 1 and Step 2 so you know what you have, and the current status on each piece of content.
Then you need to take out your business, marketing and integrated social media plan that you hopefully have and determine how your content is going to help you meet the goals and objectives you've got listed. How will you leverage the content you have to satisfy the content needs?
This is where you may realize that your plan is either ready to rock or can't feasibly be implemented on your current budget and resources.
If you realize your plan can't be easily implemented with your current content, don't freak out. Take a deep breath. It may be time to go back to the drawing board with the business plan and make a few tweaks. Many business leaders develop a plan without realizing what it's actually going to take - they oftentimes don't understand, till they get their feet wet in social marketing, how much content is actually required to inspire their audience, generate engagement and build community.
If this is the case, and you feel that your plan is not feasible given your current budget and resources, the best thing you can do is acknowledge such. Go back to the drawing board if you have to and develop a plan that you are able to implement, which leverages the content you've already invested in.
At a minimum, if you've followed the steps above, you'll know what you have, and you can start to lay out a plan to develop the content you need, but don't have yet.
It's Not Rocket Science
Don't over complicate content marketing - you don't need a PhD in writing or marketing to get your arms around your existing content.
You may need help in writing, setting goals and objectives, and/or developing and executing a plan to drive results. If you need assistance, there are various agencies (ahem, like ours) which can help, starting with a simple audit and assessment of your existing content. This may be particularly relevant if you're in a large-scale organization - there can be a lot of benefit to bringing in a third-party to serve as a neutral source, in order to help you determine what ya' got, what ya' don't got and what you need.
This is the basis of the approach I've used for more than 15 years in corporate America - I'm teaching you a system and process that I know works.
Content is king, queen, jack, and even the joker. If you can use content to your advantage, you can get a leg up on your competition - and they won't know what hit them.
Leverage Content Marketing Today, Not Next Week
Don't put your content planning onto the back burner thinking you'll deal with it next month, or next year. Deal with it right now, this week. Learn how to leverage content to connect with your target market, build relationships with your community and partners, and ultimately grow your business.
A business without content marketing is missing out. It's similar to a company without a marketing plan, or a Facebook Page without a strategy. It's like a fish without water, a dart without a dart board - content marketing is a must have in today's connected, online, 24/7 communicating world.
Tap into the conversation and use it to your advantage. Life and business is all how you look at it. The social business glass is either half full or half empty.
Which do you choose? I choose half full - I'll figure out how to fill up the rest. You can do the same.
A version of this post was first published on Pam Moore's blog.