Influencing a savvy, educated B2B customer requires more than watchable, readable “stuff.” It takes cross-functional content that builds confidence in how an organization does business as a whole.
There’s a better shot at wooing a customer with content that reflects all perspectives of expertise available across all teams. A “one team mentality” approach to content creation makes it easier to generate simple, clear, consistent messaging that answers lots of customer questions, perhaps even before they ask them.
Does your marketing capture the customer perspective in a balanced way? Are there gaps in knowledge that potential clients can spot instantly? Do your teams collaborate on content must-haves to hit all the “hot buttons” along the buyer’s journey equally?
The answers to these questions matter more than ever in 2017 for one key reason—content collaboration is an asset AND a process. No one department can craft a well-rounded marketing campaign and meet all of the diverse needs and desires of a potential B2B customer.
This is the real power of cross-functional content.
Learn to Rock Cross-Functional Content With a Purposeful Workflow
While there are many approaches to improve content creation, the actual quest of the B2B marketer is to find a better way to herd cats (I mean streamline workflows). This simplifies the creation of cross-functional content while also targeting customer desires or challenges from every angle.
So, first things first – make sure teams have a purpose (content strategy) and incentive (simplify workflow) to come together, create and share what they know for the greater good.
Review How Current Content Is Consumed and What Assets Are in Play or Lacking
Building cross-functional content starts with generating useful content. Have a system in place to review marketing materials every three to 6 months and pair it with a content metrics dashboard that measures effectiveness based on specific criteria. When you see how individual pieces are performing, it clarifies what needs to be ditched, created or refreshed, and shapes a clear list of the content pillars requiring attention. It also clarifies if buyer personas are hitting the mark.
Audit Your Content—and Identify Resources to Create Content Pillars with a Cross-Functional Mindset
Is research required? Does an internal subject matter expert need to share their input? How easy is it to repurpose a particular asset into many forms like a blog post, email marketing or a video? All these questions can be clarified by an editorial board. An editorial board comprised of team leads helps manage the master asset list and offers unique input and resources to complete assignments.The board can also help organize content by sales funnel or sales goals. To make review simple, put documentation, content descriptions, and deadlines in a central repository or a master document shared between team leads. This allows specific teams to set their smaller set of deadlines and still hit the organization-wide goal for asset completion.
Choose Channels of Internal Communication Wisely
There’s nothing more frustrating than looking into a shared database or document to see nothing but your own input when a tight deadline is looming. Choose a point person to educate company leaders about content management options and tech tools, then have them present the choice as a company-wide standard to follow. This helps relieve tension between teams about the “right” process and makes the lines of collaboration much clearer. More importantly, it helps organizations align the asset development process to specific people and when they need to contribute.
There’s nothing more frustrating than looking into a shared database or document to see nothing but your own input when a tight deadline is looming.
Outline Tasks Ownership and Establish a Structure for Cross-Functional Approval
Once there is specific a channel of internal communication in play, it’s much easier to keep cross-functional content development on track. Clear deadlines for content development, specific tasks and approvals keep content moving down the pipeline more easily. Are deadlines reasonable and being met by each team? How are teams accountable to each other for meeting deadlines on time? It’s also easier to hit the “pause” button and shift deadlines as needed to keep in time with production changes or to resolve a customer issue when using one central repository for deadlines and updates.
Employ Editorial Calendars as a Way to Make Group Decisions on Deadlines
Teams that have a specific area of expertise know how long it realistically takes to do something. Let each team provide a timeline retro-fitted from the final content pillar due date, and put it on the editorial calendar to track it at a team level.
Create Templates for Common Repeatable Tasks and Build a Workflow Based on a Content Type
Software engineers often say that if you are going to do something more than three times, write a script to streamline it. What tasks lend themselves to using templates to save time and keep key information organized, before it’s passed to someone else who can build on it? Take things a step further and build a workflow template based on a content type. For example, a landing page has a much different workflow process than an infographic regarding what’s required, but they each tie into a core content pillar and the same marketing messages. Review any templates annually for ways to make developing cross-functional content even easier.
“80 percent of top-performing companies utilize templates to streamline content production.” B2B Marketing Playbook
Use Software to Track and Leverage Content Production Analytics to Find Bottlenecks in a Quantifiable Way
What tasks are putting a big burden on current workflow? Can timelines be adjusted to speed up a process? When an editorial board monitors on-time delivery rates and missed ones, it provides insight on how to create more accurate deadlines for future projects.
Create a page in the database that lists a person’s skill set so they can serve as a subject matter expert as needed for certain projects. Add the names of potential and approved influencers to the list as well so it’s at the ready in one place and offers an even more well-rounded resource list.
Remember, from the customer perspective, seamless service is one of the top reasons they choose one company over another. Streamlining workflows to craft consistent, quality cross-functional content is just one more way to show customers why your organization is the best choice for their long-term business.