Does Your Content Plan Match Your Content Workflow?

All too often, enterprise content teams have great intentions when they start the new year, but priorities shift, content workflow processes get hung up, and your best writer just left for greener pastures. Now your team is just flying by the seat of their pants. BTW, the engineering team just requested a new white paper yesterday, the C-Suite wants to bring a new gadget to market two months early, and you still have your goal of three blog posts per week to hit.

What I’m getting at here is that your content planning needs to be flexible and you should just assume that things like last-minute requests are going to come in hot and heavy. But, there are things you can do to prepare for this inevitability. And, you should be equipped with a strategy and the right processes and tools so that you can say “No, sorry, we don’t have room for that at this time.”

Here are a few ideas to consider…

Tear Down the Silos

Tear down those silos and bring your frequent requesters into your content planning sessions. Before you meet, though, take a look at your content calendar to see if there has been any regularity to their requests.

That way, you can ask the development or engineering teams to give your creative staff a heads-up when they’re ahead of schedule on a new product. Similarly, request that the C-suite execs do the same when they spin up a new idea. It won’t work 100 percent of the time. But, it will help others see what your team faces, which will make it easier for everyone to work together and create a plan that will smooth out your content workflow.

Have Some Designated Hitters on Hand

When things get crazy, documenting your plan can be a lifesaver. Whether it’s a dependable freelancer or two who thrive on last-minute requests or your in-house team members with a similar bent, list their names and contact information right on your workflow documentation.

Then, if things start to go sideways, you can always reassign some routine content production tasks to them and tap your subject matter expert for the white paper and your tech writer for the new gadget’s how-to video. Having all that information already on your content calendar means that you and your teams won’t have to scramble to find the resources you need. They’ll have it at their fingertips in a familiar location.

Keep Your Content Workflow Moving

If your teams still use email to send drafts of your blog posts to editors or other departments for approval, you’re just asking for inefficiency and bottlenecks. If you shift your entire content workflow to a single content collaboration platform, your editorial and compliance teams, as well as other teams involved in the creation and approval processes, can provide input in real-time.

Once you switch, you’ll be surprised at how much of a time-suck emails and meetings are. In fact, they pretty much suck at spurring innovation, too. Out of seven of the top work challenges a 2019 Workfront study identified, having a comprehensive digital home for all your teams’ work solves at least four of them – maybe even more.

Workfront infographic - content workflow

Image via Workfront

  • No time for innovation: Fifty-eight percent of the nation’s workforce reports that other duties keep them away from innovation. Having a home base to work out of in real-time can help. Not only does it reduce the time you spend on routine tasks, but it can also spur innovation through the ability to share ideas to help a teammate get unstuck.
  • Email and meetings sapping productivity: With an average worker spending only 40 percent of their time doing primary tasks, such as writing, editing, filming, or recording content, you’re looking at 60 percent of your teams’ time going down the rabbit hole.
  • Lack of a digital tool to manage work-related tasks: All too many companies have cobbled together a conglomeration of assorted digital tools, none of which can manage all the tasks a team needs to complete.
  • An ability to track one’s entire body of work: With 34 percent of workers skeptical of having a single repository of their work company-wide, clearly, companies need to take note. With a comprehensive content marketing platform to document each team member’s contributions, your workforce can easily track what they’ve done. Having this ability could also contribute to a worker’s sense of purpose – number four on the list above. Seeing what they’ve already contributed demonstrates that they indeed have made a difference.

Have a Documented, Easily Accessible Content Strategy

When you document your content strategy, make it easily accessible to your teams, and regularly reference it as part of your content planning process, good things happen. That document now acts as a backboard to bounce ideas off of. A requester won’t have to waste time asking you or another supervisor if their blog post idea aligns with your strategy. And finally, you’ll be armed with the rationale to say “no” when a request falls outside of your strategy.

Your strategy document should include key messaging, content themes/topics, and fleshed-out customer personas. Those personas should include their needs and desires, and what types of content will best reach them with solutions. Be sure to note each target market segment’s geographical location, preferred channels, and where they’re at in their buyer’s journey. When it comes time to automate publication, getting your content into their hands at the optimum time and place is a must.

Stop Chasing Digital Squirrels

Like any fast-moving industry in these times, there is no lack of shiny new toys to play with in your digital sandbox. The truth is, you can get bogged down with overload if you waste time chasing down every new trend.

Use your content analytics program to document what strategies are working and which ones are not. Shave off the underperformers from your workflow and keep what’s working.

Of course, you should experiment with promising new ideas. But don’t chase after them at the expense of what’s already proven to work. Lean into those channels, target audiences, and content types that produce the best ROI.

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