How to Build a Content Factory

For many organisations the content creation process is lengthy, full of friction and cumbersome. This article will explore how organisations can turn their marketing functions into productive factories by formalising content creation processes.

Insightful and creative content is critical for organisations to turn their marketing function into a strategic asset. Nevertheless, for many organisations the content creation process is lengthy, full of friction and cumbersome. Too often, this happens as many marketing functions operate more like artisan workshops than productive factories as they are configured around bi-annual campaigns. Reorganising these functions into running more as productive factories will enable scalable and repeatable processes. This will further deduce in reduced typical sources of inefficiency, improved content quality, and ensure on-brand messaging through clear governance and processes. This article will explore how organisations can turn their marketing functions into productive factories by formalising content creation processes and by ensuring that crucial elements are in place to facilitate the workflow.

Exhibit 1

Content Factory Resource Allocation

The ratio between these two metaphorical components is extremely important. Too many Marketing organisations operate more like an artisan workshop with low outputs and weak quality instead of like a highly productive factory. While it is difficult to plan and formalise the artisan workshop part, the factory part requires meticulous design and thinking. The benefits of a well run factory are many:

  • Create a scalable and repeatable process map that allows us to formalise tacit knowledge and implicit routines, and hence, make onboarding easier and reduce loss-of-knowledge in the case of departures.
  • Reduce typical sources of inefficiency such as major setbacks, lack of alignment, bottlenecks and double work.
  • Ensure structured learning and improvements through ongoing updating of processes, tools & templates.
  • Improved content quality and on-brand messaging through clear governance and processes
  • Automate manual tasks through technology.

The idea is not to move towards turning the Marketing department into a producer of insane amounts of crap content, but rather to raise the game on quality and quantity simultaneously.

Outlining the Foundational Production Workflow

At the core of driving efficient operations is the activity of mapping and formalising the content creation process. We see some key steps that each has some pitfalls. These are listed here below:

1. Ideation on content pieces & angles:

While marketing can be the initiator of many content programs, colleagues outside of the Marketing department can be a nugget of ideas and insights. In this part it is crucial to establish a Content Committee and formalize meeting rhythms: Identify key stakeholders and subject matter experts across your company and establish an official “content committee.” Consider pulling in representatives from Sales/business development, Customer success, Strategic marketing, Product management, Field marketing, and PR. By forming an official content committee, you can gain additional insight into themes and content types that will resonate with buyers, while fostering buy-in and internal alignment around marketing content.

Further on, you can also use digital tools such as social listening, Google Trends, and keyword research to qualify certain topics, while also providing fresh perspectives and insights about what is trending in the industry. A good way to go about keyword research is to write down some questions that are based on the customers’ obstacles, pain-points and goals that you are “answering” with your content pieces (whether it is static website content or campaign-based content doesn’t really matter). Then, perform some keyword research around those queries to see if enough people are searching for them.

2. Agreement of High-level structure & concept:

This is one of the mission-critical steps of the process. You must create a content wireframe that lists all the critical points you want to cover and also their flow (tightly based on the messaging framework). This ensures you don’t forget anything that is absolutely crucial while making the approval process easier and smoother for all parties involved. While creating the structure of your content, keep your research in mind, and make key data a part of this wireframe.

3. Development of content:

Once you have the story flow in place, all you need to do is to fill the buckets. Sort of. A key notion is to develop the core asset first (long form blog post, paper, e-book, webinars, research report or similar), which then can be cut up into supporting tools (social media posts, blog posts, short films, landing pages etc.).

The idea is to think of your core asset as a project and break it down into small milestones. Think of each pointer you want to flesh out in the article as a separate task. In this way, you will not only do justice to each and every pointer but you will also not get overwhelmed with the job on hand. Use this process to get sign-off on both strategic, editorial and visual decisions. While this will feel cumbersome, it will make the supporting assets created around the core asset much easier, faster and less time-consuming.

4. Pre-launch testing:

The final step is to test and refine your content. Make sure that the people who are invested in its success take a good look at it. It’s important to get their feedback and final sign-off. Prepare a questionnaire and ask them to fill it once they are done going through your content. Ask them whether:

  • The content was readable & understandable
  • The visuals are differentiating and on-brand
  • The user flow was spot on
  • The content went astray any point of time
  • The content answers customer inquiries
  • There was something about the content they didn’t like

Ask questions where the answer will provide you with you a clear idea about the effectiveness of your content and make changes to it from the potential negative and constructive feedback. This step can also be used to loop-back functional or regional stakeholders that you want to be part of the campaign development process. By doing so, they will be prone to use the content once it is launched and will feel more ownership of it.

5. Localisation:

This part of the workflow is connected to localisation of the storyline. While this is sometimes bulked together with language versioning, this activity is quite different in terms of skills needed and value created. The localisation phase is really about understanding which bits and bites of the storyline that needs a local twist, and how to implement this twist in an efficient way. Ideally, these nuances were already captured during the planning phase, and the localised content was “baked-in” during content development.

6. Format and language versioning:

This is where the bulk of the “local” resources are used, but in fact, it should be flipped entirely. The value creating part is the “Localisation” stage, where’s the format and language versioning phase should, to the extent possible, be completely automated, and the resource draw minimised.

Enablers of High Quality and Quantity of Content

Across each of these steps the right people, processes, and tools need to be in place to facilitate the workflow. Some of the crucial elements are presented here:

1. Playbooks: The Service Level Agreements between the different entities (internal & external), the measurement frameworks, shared playing-board (Prospect-to-customer process).

2. Templates: What information needs to be captured where by whom to move the process forward.

3. Planning calendar: How you organize the production, release, and distributie the content.

4. Style guidelines: Includes guidelines and “perimeters” for the brand, but also advice on how to work with different mediums and channels for maximum impact.

5. Tech: Tools that enables efficient workflows, planning and asset management.

Identifying the Kings & Queens of your Content Creation Process

In order to design the most productive setup, you need to chart quite detailed how and when these people that reside outside the central marketing organisation are brought into the process – including how to avoid that any of them will cause delays, setbacks and similar. There are several types of input that link up to different parts of the process and stakeholder map. While these will seem quite mundane, formalising which type of input to get from whom, when can be a major enabler of efficiency:

Exhibit 2

Typical Types of Stakeholders of a Content Factory

A content creation engine consists of many moving parts, including decisions around how to organise, which roles to hire, which activities to outsource, and how to engage the stakeholders across the organisation. Too often, this blueprint is created by ‘accident’ instead of being a result of well-considered, strategic decisions. In our Marketing guide, we look further into this subject by exploring the process of planning, creating and executing content. If you wish to further acquaint yourself with knowledge on this topic, then sign up to receive our Marketing guide here below.

Do you want to read more?

This topic is just one of the topics we cover in our recently released Marketing guide for Commercial Executive in B2B companies. It will help you answer questions such as:

  • How should I organise my marketing department to create maximum value for the resources available?
  • How do I define the most optimal tech stack to boost my department’s productivity and improve customer engagement?
  • How do I make the collaboration with sales more value-creating and frictionless?
  • How do I organise my Marketing department for maximum value
  • How do I make sure that my people spend time on creating value for our customers and business instead of putting out fires or doing tedious, repetitive manual work

About the author

Mikkel Bach-Andersen
Mikkel Bach-Andersen
Mikkel has has 12+ years of experience of consulting B2B companies. He has a functional focus on brand strategy, value propositions, segmentation, organizational design, commercial strategy, product launches and deal acceleration.

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