5 ideas to help you maximize content
1. Dedicate a person or team to content
To maximize content marketing and invest the least money, time and effort, you need create a dedicated content team.
This advice may sound counterintuitive. But you will get more out of a dedicated 2-person content team than by assigning 20 people to spend 10% of their time on content.
Why? Because if you need to succeed at marketing, content can’t be a side job. Content marketing is a big job that needs to be someone’s main job.
How big a job is content marketing? Think of it this way: all the websites in the world only have two types of pages – information pages and selling pages.
The job of your content marketing team is to create, update and maintain all the information pages, the content you create to educate buyers, build relationships and get them ready to make smarter purchases.
To maximize content, you need make it someone’s full-time job – their reason for being.
2. Find people with the right mix of skills
The best content teams have the right blend of skills.
To maximize content, find people who are experts in key tasks:
- Editorial tasks like planning the calendar, researching, interviewing and writing.
- Design tasks such as infographics, layouts, webpages, photos and videos.
- Marketing tasks such as buyer persona research, mapping content to buyers’ journeys, and converting by winning subscribers, followers and customers.
- Analytics tasks such as measuring performance, conducting A/B tests and improving content performance over time.
It’s hard to find one person who can do 2 or more tasks well. It’s darn near-impossible to find a person who can do all 4.
Chances are, you will need to supplement your 1-person or 2-person content marketing team with outside expertise to get the right skill set. Where can you go looking for useful expertise?
One place to look is your public relations (PR) team. PR ought to work closely with marketing – no matter how your organization chart is designed.
Too often, for organizational and/or political reasons, the marketing and PR teams have a wall in between them that hinders their optimal performance.
Here’s why you need both teams to maximize content: Because PR and marketing have overlapping skills sets that converge perfectly on the turf called content marketing.
There’s another reason PR is crucial:
PR produces content such as news releases, interviews, customer publications and news coverage, which will be seen by more customers than journalists.
Yes, customers look at news content as they search on topics and questions they care about. Customers don’t make fine distinctions between what is content marketing and what is PR – they just want the right answers.
These days, journalists don’t have much time to spend reading news feeds from PR Newswire and their ilk. But consumers and business buyers will take the time to read that news when it’s relevant to their needs.
That’s why companies can beat their competitors with content marketing by placing more focus on the PR side of the equation. For example, PR people in the computer industry score homeruns with content as they:
- Stimulate journalists to write product announcements, reviews and comparisons.
- Invite reporters into their R&D labs to try out the technologies of the future.
- Apply to win awards that make the company and products stand out.
- Encourage influencers to create unboxing videos, reviews, blogs and other content that advance brands in the hearts and minds of buyers.
3. Get the whole company on the same page
Work with your executives, product managers, sales and others to co-create the strongest possible foundation for content marketing. Co-creation is crucial, because you maximize content when you get everyone to buy into your mission, strategy and message up front.
Here are step-by-step processes you can use to create the first 3 building blocks of a solid content marketing foundation:
- A content marketing mission statement
- A 1-page content marketing strategy
- A concise, clear, consistent and scalable message on a Message Map.
4. Organize content marketing like a newspaper
The content marketing team needs to be organized editorially, like a newspaper:
- Appoint an editor with the authority to schedule content, decide which content is ready to go, assign stories and take responsibility for attracting subscribers.
- Assign content creators – writers, designers, photographers and videographers – who create streams of content day to day. These may be internal or external resources.
- Identify subject-matter experts to work with content creators to produce leading-edge content that fully reflects the company’s expertise. These are almost always internal resources – whom you may want to identify by giving them bylines.
When your company has an agreed-on mission, strategy and message, the content marketing team gains the authority to operate content marketing without getting bogged down in endless review loops.
Simplifying reviews gives you a speed advantage over competitors. For example, you can newsjack headlines and trend stories to gain an even bigger share of voice.
5. Choose marketing tools wisely
Choosing the right tools to make the content team more productive can save time. However, that task is harder than ever before because over 7,000 different tools are available for content marketing.
It’s easy to freeze up when there are way too many choices.
Each vendor makes an argument that you can’t live without their marketing tool. But you can. How?
Before you pay for any new tools, first map out your content marketing processes on a whiteboard or piece of paper. Before you try to automate a process, make sure there’s a manual process in place that works for your team and your company.
Oftentimes, companies actually need a clear process more than they need a tool. By defining their process in writing, they may learn that they don’t need all the tools they thought they needed before.
Another reason to start with the process rather than the tool: an existing process that is convoluted today will turn far worse when it’s automated tomorrow.
Automating an unclear process can lead to regrets. Why?
Because automating faulty processes just enables more mistakes to happen faster. Instead, start with a minimum viable set of tools for content marketing.
Learn how much you can do with a little automation, then move forward.
Some marketing tools you need are free:
- Use Google Trends to learn which topics are in vogue, which terms customers use and what competitors are doing to capture content share.
- To see how content performs on your website use Google Analytics or a competitor.
- Use WordPress to build new websites.
- To compile notes and research, use Evernote or Apple Notes.
Some marketing tools you need, your company has already:
- Use spreadsheets to build editorial calendars. Switch to a more sophisticated calendar tool only if and when your spreadsheet maxxes out.
- Use the word processing software you’re familiar with.
- Use shared workspaces for documents the team needs, such as Dropbox, Google Docs or Hightail.
Some tools you need provide free samples. You pay only as you scale up:
- Simplify social media posting and analytics with Hootsuite or Buffer.
- Find out who has the most influence on topics buyers care about, and which questions customers are seeking answers to, with tools like BuzzSumo.
- If you need to create infographics but lack an in-house designer, consider tools like Venngage.
Other tools are both essential and worth paying for, including email platforms and marketing automation.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by adopting too many tools at once. Each tool takes time to learn, and more time to get the most out of.
Above, I’ve shared some of my favorite tools. Here are favorites from Jay Baer, Neil Patel and Ian Cleary:
- 12 Time-Saving Tools for Content Marketers
- 15 Content Marketing Tools You Can’t Live Without
- Improve Your Productivity with 8 Content Marketing Tools.
Which content marketing tools are your favorites? Add them in the comments below.
To maximize content production, efficiency and effectiveness:
- Create a dedicated content team.
- Find the right mix of skills.
- Get the whole company on the same page.
- Organize content like a newspaper.
- Choose marketing tools wisely.
Here are related questions:
“How do you maximize content with as little effort and time as possible?” is one of marketers’ Top 100 Questions about content marketing. Here are answers to marketers’ Top 100 Questions.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.