One of the biggest values that come with content operations maturity is the ability to say “no” to ad hoc content demands.
As B2B marketers have adopted content marketing, many have found themselves on the hamster wheel of content production. Volume has become the rallying cry, rather than purpose, meaning, and experiences.
Part of this is due to the ease of publishing. But publishing content is not content marketing. It’s just, well, publishing. And it’s often publishing random content because of an arbitrary schedule that mandates a daily blog post or weekly newsletter, or some other act of publishing without the appropriate strategy or plan in place tied to outcomes. This has led a majority of B2B marketers to admit that their content marketing is not effective—year over year.
Another part of the problem driving random acts of content is that marketing is seen as the go-to source for it. Requests come from sales teams, service teams, and executives with ideas they want to be executed as content assets. Most of this is for a specific, one-time use. And, yes, it’s often a “content emergency,” requiring fast turnaround.
Content Operations Eliminates Content Waste
Content operations formalize planning and put guard rails around what content will be developed, for what audience and purpose, as well as where it will be distributed. It also provides a structure for hierarchy because it defines processes, ownership, and governance of content for the organization.
Organizations spend billions of dollars creating content. Yet research finds that anywhere from 60% (Sirius Decisions) to 90% (Corporate Visions) of branded content is not used. The proper planning will dramatically reduce this waste. A central repository for content makes it findable and reusable to reduce instances of reinventing the wheel that come with random acts of content.
Content Must Be Hirable
B2B audiences seek out content in relation to jobs to be done. A job to be done is the end goal—the big picture. Within a job to be done are many needs or tasks to be completed that require information, learning, and gathering the criteria for decision making and change management. When content is planned and developed based on creating a collective that helps your audience complete a job to be done, it’s hirable.
The attributes of hirable content include:
- Relevance to a specific, defined target audience (persona)
- Answers a question or informational need that’s part of a job to be done
- Points to what’s next toward completing the job to be done
Content that’s hirable has purpose and meaning for the viewer. Its job is to motivate action and next steps to provide a continuum of support for the job to be done—from end to end.
When a request for content comes in that doesn’t support the job to be done for the intended audience, it should be rejected as not hirable.
Hirable content is also evergreen. As long as the job to be done exists, the content developed to support it is useful and relevant.
A technology client with a complex buying process that could last three years produced a nurturing program that addressed the tasks of a job to be done in the oil and gas industry. Because all the content they shared with this target market addressed the job to be done in relation to each persona on the buying committee, the buying process was reduced to 18 months. All of the content was used and is still used successfully several years later.
The content is reviewed and updated annually, and occasionally a piece is switched out, but for the most part the same nurture program continues to perform because the job to be done still exists. The client made a purposeful decision not to create content for a one-off use or for short-term themed campaigns favored by other divisions of the company. By taking a comprehensive end-to-end view of the job to be done, all of the content created is hirable by the target audience.
Content Must Also Pivot to Context
With some jobs to be done, different personas need the same information. But they need it in different contexts to align with their perspectives to be able to consider it. A global business process outsourcing client identified four personas on the buying committee. Each of these audiences was receptive to information about how to evaluate vendors for the services provided.
An information-rich article was developed that would be useful for each of the personas. For each pivot, the title, introduction, and conclusion were tailored to match the perspective of the persona. Different tags and keywords were used. But the body of the article was the same. Because each persona was able to view the information in alignment with their context, the article sparked collaborative conversations that got salespeople invited to the conversations. With each of them using the same information, consensus was easier to achieve.
This same client achieved similar results when they used data from clients within an industry to highlight common areas for improvement. As they looked at data for the different industries they served, they realized that some of the areas of improvement were common. The information was repurposed into additional industry reports and aligned with the industry it addressed.
With a focus on creating meaningful content that addresses jobs to be done, all of this content is used and gains a longer shelf life. Ad hoc content requests have gone away because the strategy has proven to perform.
Make the Move from Random to Relevant
Content Operations provides the structure needed to become more purposeful about content marketing. Nearly all B2B marketers practice content marketing and nearly all of them say they will produce more content this year. More isn’t always the answer. Better is.
If you remember that your target markets are hiring your content in pursuit of a job to be done, it will become much easier to just say “no” to random acts of content.