How to Fix Your Content Pipeline
Creating and distributing content sounds simple at first…. But just wait until you’ve done it.
Even with a detailed content strategy, the multi-layered nature of a well designed content pipeline only works like a well-oiled machine if everyone follows processes correctly, and every part of the process hit’s it’s integrated deadlines. It can be all too easy for a marketing team to get overwhelmed. And that can lead to poor results and wasted potential.
But, from my experience, there are a few key areas that cause problems and bottlenecks in the content marketing process. Fix these inefficiencies, and you’ll be well on your way to a highly profitable content strategy.
1. Master of none
This issue, and the one below, are by far the biggest issues I come across when helping businesses get better results with their content strategy.
Trying to be or appear as an expert in multiple areas only achieves two things. Resource waste, and confusing your target market in what exactly you’re supposed to be an expert in.
Casting a wide net does not help a fisherman if he’s not catching any of the fish he wants, and has to throw them all back. Instead, it’s better to throw out a smaller, specialized net, in the right location, that only catches the fish you want.
You’ll stop overwhelming your content team, and give them time to write remarkable content, on the right topic for your customers, and also take unnecessary lead off your sales team, who may be currently trying to convert poor leads to no prevail.
To better determine what your content should be focusing on, consider creating a topic map. Think of a topic keyword that best describes the product or service you’re trying to advertise, and then surround it by sub-topics. Try to think of a use case for what you’re selling, that connects the the topic keyword (your business) to the sub-topic. If there is one, the sub topic is a solution your business can provide, and it’s worth writing about. If there’s no connection, it’s best to focus your marketing teams time writing about something else.
2. No content schedule
Every song has to have a beat to stay in rhythm. So to, does your content process have to stay in sync like a perfectly created melody.
Readers, and humans in general, like regularity. If you’re publishing on Tuesday and Thursday one week, but then not until Friday the week after, you’re going to lose people who might have otherwise become loyal followers. You’ll look unprofessional, like you’re publishing in tune to your own personal thought process, instead of in-line with your customers and your needs.
I find this to be a major problem in businesses trying out blogging and social media, but it is an easy problem to solve.
Instead of looking at content creation as a process task by task process, and publishing when work is completed, look at it instead as a cyclical process that revolves around a weekly editorial calendar. Mark your days that you are going to publish on, and breakdown what your team needs to achieve leading up to those days, so that you are consistently publishing content on time. Content that’s quality.
A basic content calendar may have publishing days on Tuesday and Thursday, leaving Monday and Wednesday free for research and media gathering and creating a rough draft, with Tuesday and Thursday for iterative improvements until publishing time. Friday’s are then free to brainstorm ideas for the next week.
3. Writing for more than one audience
Different buyer persona’s have different needs. For new businesses desperate to get client’s, it’s tempting to try to attract every client that you can. I respect people that try to hustle, but think about how ineffective this strategy is in reality.
At my local shops there’s a small pop-up stall, run by a new gas company trying to attract it’s first clients. As what happens with these kind of high-turnover sales roles, most of the sales consultants I see when I walk past are only there once or twice, before they’re replaced by a fresh face who also won’t last long.
There is one lady there however, that has been around since the stall first appeared, and seems to be excelling in her role. I was curious why, and have found she approaches the sales process completely differently than her colleagues.
While her colleagues are desperately trying to flag down every passer by they see, she calmly waits…. Looking for only those only most likely to be interested in information about a gas company, and deducing what their needs might be. I’ve seen her correctly deduce a young couple as building a home in the area and needing to sign with a gas company before moving in, or, when not that specific, strike up a conversation with the person they noticed look at the stall twice, while her colleague is busy shouting information onto deaf ears.
It’s fascinating watching two people in the same role, one happy in their position, calm, and excelling, and the other exhausted, burned out, and probably not making sales.
It’s important to not waste your energy where it’s not going to be profitable for you, attempting to reach only those who will be interested in what you have to say, AND are likely to purchase.
There is a difference between someone who liked your post because they found it an entertaining read, and someone who liked your post because it was entertaining to them, and are likely to follow up on your product or service.
Your staff that best understands this distinction is your sales team. Ask them to describe who’s most often purchasing from you, and spend your resources reaching that group that is driving your revenue.
4. Lack of accountability
There’s a reason parents implement chore charts when teaching their children responsibility and the value of work. Without a visual prompt and record of accountability, there’s nothing to stop the kids forgetting about their duties, and even the parents might stop keeping track.
These same principles apply to your content pipeline.
Brainstorms and pitches may make ideas flow, but they won’t help your content pipeline flow if nobody is keeping track of what happens with the ideas afterward. Ideation will become a sunk cost.
Everything, including ideas, must be tracked from conception to completion.
And even after content is published, metrics should be tracked inform on what performs well for future ideas.
5. Lack of creative support
Creativity is the engine driving content creation, and the creators responsible need the right support to come up with ideas that fit your brand message and business goals.
You and your content creators should be in regular communication to make sure content creation is both on track with targets and deadlines, and on track with the message you’re trying to broadcast.
You need to stay on the same page in a few key areas:
What does your brand stand for? Do you effectively communicate your vision of the brand to your creatives, without any mixed messages? Keep a clear message of your brand’s values and mission, and it’s style, by keeping a brand style guide.
Time can always be optimized. Tracking time to produce content versus it’s performance in terms of engagement and financial returns for a business, can better inform your creative team on when they’re doing their most valuable work, and what they should focus more on.
It is good to let creative ideas flow freely, but it is just as important to prioritize which ideas are developed upon. Keep your creatives up to date with the business side of things, and how their work influences it.
When meeting with your creative team members, let them know how important they are to your business and to your brand.
Compensate them fairly, and keep an open-door policy so they’re comfortable with coming to you for questions and critiques.
Fear of expression is the worst thing that can happen to a creative, and could make your content lose it’s passion and uniqueness.