You’re creating content—lots of it. If the trend holds steady—which B2B marketers indicate it will—you’ll create even more content next year. Content has become almost as much of a product as the actual products and solutions your company provides to your customers.

While marketers have widely embraced content marketing, we’ve yet to give it the foundation of a content operation to manage its effectiveness at scale.

Products have roadmaps, development processes, releases, and a lot of other organization and structure around how they’re brought to market, as well as the management of each product’s lifecycle. Content, on the other hand, usually does not have that same level of attention from across the organization.

My guess is that content in most organizations is created in silos across departments and without one department or region knowing what the others are doing. This is not necessarily your fault. When content marketing is run as an ad hoc effort, marketers tend to look at the content they’re working on for the next deadline rather than trying to figure out the big picture for how the content inventory is used strategically across the organization.

A content operation acts as a unifying foundation for content strategy and content marketing strategy to bring order to the chaos that generally ensues from ad hoc efforts.

Kapost defines content operations as:

A content operation is the set of processes, people, and technology for strategically planning, producing, distributing, and analyzing content. When properly implemented, it unifies the customer experience across all departments and channels and allows marketers to focus on authentic, resonant messaging that drives revenue and growth.

As you can see, the ultimate value enabled by a content operation is consistent and valuable customer experiences that drive revenue and growth—regardless of which area of the organization provides them. Customer experience is the new battleground for differentiation and competitive advantage. And content is the versatile weapon of choice.

However, it’s no longer enough to create great, relevant content. Content shock—a condition coined by Mark Schaefer—is in full effect. To break through the noise, we’ve got to up the ante. Establishing a content operation function is what’s needed to take our content product to the next level.

3 Challenges a Content Operation Can Resolve

Carefully consider each of these three areas that a content operation function addresses:

1. Unused Content Wastes Resources

How much of your content is shelfware? SiriusDecisions has pointed out that at least 65% of content goes unused. Creating content that sits on the “shelf” equates to wasted resources.

Imagine if that was true for one of your products. If customers didn’t want it, wouldn’t you fix it, fast? But it’s also the case that content goes unused because no one knows about it within your company. This commonly results in redundant content creation that increases the number of wasted resources.

Visibility into content and analysis of effectiveness are benefits of a well-orchestrated content operation.

2. Experience Gaps Disconnect Prospects and Customers

In complex B2B buying scenarios, content is often directed to early and late stages of the buying process with a gap the size of the Grand Canyon. Lacking a full-funnel content experience leaves customers in the middle of the funnel stranded.

A content operation allows for the proper planning to ensure that prospect and customer needs are met from start to finish at every step and stage along the way. Managing a content inventory and its distribution is as important as the original investment in creating your content.

The result is improved customer experiences that provide value to your audiences and align with your company’s business objectives.

3. Budget Deficits

Budgets are reported consistently as a top barrier for marketers in achieving success with content marketing strategies. Even as we spend more and more budget on content, a majority of marketers are still failing to see an optimal ROI from their efforts.

The organization of processes and workflows brought forth by a content operation function will pay off in optimizing spending, increasing productivity—allowing marketers to do more with the budgets they have—and conducting analysis that proves the effectiveness of content assets. This means learning from content that didn’t work as intended and quickly evolving to content that does.

A content operation brings justifiable impact to the bottom line.

Building a Business Case for a Content Operation

To consistently contribute to business growth, any function within your company must evolve. Content marketing—viewed as a product—must evolve in the same way. Establishing a content operation is the next step toward consistency, effectiveness, and scale.

While I’ve presented some great ammunition for you to consider in order to sell this change to your organization, the eBook, Building a Business Case for a Content Operation, arms you with statistics, proof points, and simulated conversations to help you prepare for how you’ll present this winning idea to your executive team.

Change is risk. The adoption of a content operation function can look daunting. But, if you want to compete successfully with customer experience and ensure marketing is viewed as a revenue center due to how you’re able to bring your product to market, moving forward boldly is your best option.

The fact that a content operation works to align content marketing to overall business goals is one of your strongest arguments.

Ardath Albee

About Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions. She’s written two books, the latest is Digital Relevance: Developing Content and Strategies That Drive Results. Ardath helps B2B companies with complex sales use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Follow her on Twitter at @ardath421.