The Bottlenecks of Content Marketing

 In Content Marketing, Organizational Change, Tips & How-Tos

In a recent interview with a tech writer, I was posed a great question that brought back all sorts of memories from past lives (careers). The question:

What sort of bottlenecks are most common in content marketing initiatives/projects?

It’s hard to forget past situations where I was responsible to get something done with a hard deadline, but some bottleneck (normally someone) significantly reduced my ability to be successful. What can you do? The ball is in someone else’s court. You have no control. As the deadline gets closer, you start pitting out your shirt. I remember sitting at my desk, feeling paralyzed, thinking to myself…I might be fired because of a flawed process that I had no part in designing.

The Squeeze is On

Having worked in multiple types of business settings (corporate, agency, solopreneur managing freelancers, real start-up), I can safely say that bottlenecks are everywhere. You’ll never eliminate them, but in many cases, they can be easily identified and controlled via systems, processes and technology.

When we look at the content marketing process specifically, many bottlenecks can be avoided/eliminated when a company actually sits down and goes through a formalized content strategy process. For those that have no strategy, typical bottlenecks include:

  • Lack of dedicated resources/manpower – We see this a lot where a company takes on new content marketing initiatives, but they don’t staff properly. The organization is jazzed that they now have multiple outlets from which to publish and distribute content, so everyone has great ideas and wants to get content out. But the small team (or one person) that is managing this effort quickly gets bogged down with requests.
  • No formalized planning process – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Ben Franklin – This bottleneck occurs often where a company has a big launch or event coming up, but due to poor planning, the event sneaks up on the entire company and then everyone is scrambling at the last minute. The output is lower quality, there are typos everywhere and who knows how many opportunities were missed because they were late to the party.
  • No formalized workflow – If your team hasn’t defined (and written down) your workflow for content production, you’re just asking for trouble. This process can be pretty simple, but may be time consuming if your team is responsible for producing multiple types of content. Take it one type at a time. For example…Let’s say your workflow for a blog post looks something like this: 1) First Draft > 2) Editing > 3) Design/Photo Sourcing > 4) Final Review > 5) Post to CMS. Just identifying the steps is a good start. But then take it two steps further. Who is responsible for each step? And how much time do they typically need to complete each step? This last question is very important if you’re trying to be consistent with hard deadlines for publishing your content, which we should all strive for. Much like traditional publishers, consistency has so many benefits and will go along way towards building a loyal following of readers (and customers).

There’s a Happy Ending to this (Particular) Story

Thanks to situations like these, I learned early in my career that I actually do my best work under pressure, which can be a double-edged sword (and a separate blog post). When bottlenecks started showing themselves consistently, I’m thankful that my co-workers and management were open to discussing flaws in the process and working to eliminate them.

Which Bottlenecks Put the Squeeze On You?

If you have other examples of bottlenecks or good stories to share, feel free to leave a comment. The more we identify (and smash), the better.

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