Content marketing is still a young discipline.
Unfortunately, we have plenty of aborted content strategies to reference.
I’ve seen these failed attempts close-up while consulting with large companies. I’ve also sat with small business owners while they try to understand what went wrong. I’ve observed that content strategy failures are rarely linked to a technology failure. The social networks work as advertised.
Actually, the Achilles heel in every circumstance can be traced to a common factor – underequipped, underutilized, and uninspired people. These people aren’t lazy, stupid, or slow. For the most part, they are extremely talented. But they still failed to convert the promised content strategy into the day-to-day tasks and habits needed for success.
This post probably caught your attention because you experienced a content strategy failure or you see your current strategy headed in the wrong direction. If so, then consider this outline for putting your content strategy back on track.
Find the Bottlenecks
Where did your strategy lose momentum? Try to pinpoint the meeting, missed deadline, or reprioritization that stripped away important time or resources. Look here first:
Content marketing strategies require a steady river of creative ideas. The best organizations set aside time weekly to gather their content teams and brainstorm new ways to tell, repurpose, and distribute their story. Those that struggled with ideation hoisted the entire content strategy on an overworked, underpaid, and not quite qualified staffer who was left to twist in the wind.
In this case, the organization doesn’t suffer from having ideas it suffers from poor execution. I see this most often when marketers confuse having an idea with executing them.
Take a step back and identify the “doers”. They are your writers, designers, videographers, and engineers. These people build things for a living. Once you find them, ask them what they need to get the job done.
Here’s a hint: they don’t need more ideas. They need more time, clearer priorities, a defined objective, and uninterrupted space to work where they aren’t interrupted by yet another brainstorming session.
In some cases, the ideas get executed and actually are ready for prime time but they hit the approval bottleneck. This happens in organizations with incompetent, indecisive, or overworked decision-makers.
Out of all the possible bottlenecks, lack of approval is the most demoralizing. I’ll be frank with you, this problem is tough to crack. You might lack the authority to loosen the logjam. I have one bit of risky advice for you….sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. Your boss might not know how to make a decision.
Once you’ve addressed the bottlenecks turn your attention to retooling your content marketing strategy. Look for simple tactics that can be executed effectively and quickly.
Here’s where I would start:
Always try to kill three birds with one stone. Look for opportunities to use a single piece of content on multiple platforms. For example, turn a blog post into a podcast, a script for a video, and a presentation on Slideshare. Pin illustration graphics used in the post on Pinterest. Use the headline of the post as an idea starter for a question and answer session on LinkedIn or Facebook.
I’ve learned that most initial content strategies are too complicated, too resource intensive, and too expensive. Try rewriting your strategy on a single piece of paper. This constraint will force you to prioritize tactics. It will also force you to pick the tactics that have the best chance of fulfilling your objective.
More Wood Behind Fewer Arrows
Focus attention, resources, incentives, and time executing the baby steps.
Marshal as many resources as you can to execute your best tactics. This effort will send the message that the content marketing strategy is important and execution is critical.
This direction goes together with the baby steps approach. Limiting your list of strategies and tactics makes it possible to devote more time and resources.
Keep Up The Momentum
Celebrate Every Win
Treat your content strategy like a kindergarten student. Anything that moves your content strategy forward is worth rewarding. Set easy goals and then raise the bar when they are met. If YOU are the content strategy doer look for opportunities to reward yourself for meeting your goals.
Track the Numbers
Identify metrics that are meaningful to your organization. Set up an automatic way to retrieve and distribute these metrics. Make reviewing the health of your content strategy a habit.
Weave Content Into Your Organization’s DNA
Realize that your organization has a story. Every day you get to choose who tells that story, you, your customers, or your competitors. Your content strategy is a concerted effort to tell your story in an authentic, positive and useful way. The stakes are high.
We are seeing that having and executing a content marketing strategy is quickly becoming a competitive price of entry. Everyone needs to understand how to weave the effort of telling their unique story into every decision and action. You have an opportunity to reboot your strategy. Make good use of it.