How to Run the Content Marketing Machine

How to Run the Content Marketing Machine

I’ve led my share of content marketing efforts. Branded projects, serial programming, co-publishing, media integrations and Super Bowl extensions. Some good and some not so good.

Content marketing is a team sport. No one person or player can pull it off. I say this from experience; in 2014 I won Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute. While a great honor, the award should have been extended to my team or awarded to a brand as opposed to any one individual. I accepted the accolade and made a funny acceptance video, but I knew that there were many team members, agencies and partners that deserved the award as much as I did.

An Honor, but also a Lesson in Teamwork

Good content marketing is an engine designed to build an engaged audience over time. It has many moving parts and requires media sophistication. It involves asynchronous actors and synchronous timing. You need to have a clear view into the future while keeping an eye on the here and now. Content marketing is complicated, and it’s only going to get more so (to do it well).

Even the best strategies and plans, or the most breakthrough ideas, won’t reach their true impact without the synchronicity of properly aligned teams with a collaborative mindset.

That’s why this next phase of Content Marketing will be defined by how well you collaborate around your brand’s content. Your next great strategy, big campaign or real-time whatever won’t realize its true impact if we don’t address the “how you work,” and make it a priority.

Behavior Over Technology

Basic requirements for truly effective content marketing include a collaborative mindset and an overall comprehension that today’s market is alive and dynamic. This is a people and “how they work” problem, not a problem around trends or implementing the latest techniques.

Unfortunately, most of us are stuck with old tools and old patterns of behavior. Your brand is always on, yet we follow work-streams constructed for simpler times: “Mad Men”-era briefing processes that don’t capture the complexity of omni-channel orchestration, or worse, meeting after meeting after meeting (after meeting).

Finding more opportunities for teams to work together; getting OUT of Powerpoint or Spreadsheets (when you can); recognizing when once-productive meetings have become “status calls.” These are all good places to start. But beyond that, it’s about building collaborative routines and evolving those practices to ensure they stay fresh and useful.

Step 1 – Reduce Powerpoint

A manager once told me that “it’s not real unless it’s in Powerpoint.” Sad, but oftentimes too true. We’ve come to rely on a software tool designed as an overhead projector replacement. Marketers have “hacked” it to be their system of record and how we conduct most of our meetings. It’s turned into a really bad habit that never fully demonstrates the story, complexity, etc. You get it.

Step 2 – Get Out of Spreadsheets

Unless you’re my accountant, please stop. Even worse are the meetings facilitated via a shared screen and a spreadsheet. The 90’s called and they want their pivot table back. Stop it. People will like working with you more once you ditch the spreadsheets.

Step 3 – Eliminate ‘Status’ Meetings

Or at least realize when once-productive meetings become merely status calls. Either end them or establish a better agenda that fosters collaboration and participation. Again, people will like you more.

Steal this agenda: The Content Scrum

When I ran Social Marketing at Intel, I introduced a weekly editorial meeting called the “War Room.” Almost all content teams have similar meetings with various names, but this meeting steered our ship, aligned our vision and became a popular session for teams across Intel to attend.

Goal: Build, View & Share – we reviewed past content, approved new work, mapped out the week and forecasted out to a realistic distance.

Attendees: All brand teams, all agencies & stakeholders – strategists, agencies, community managers, PR, employee comms. were all a must. So were social, web, COE’s, creative teams, etc. Within reason, everyone who touched the brand’s content were crucial attendees.

Duration: One to two hours, once per week. Mondays worked best with work due by EOD the previous Friday.

Monday Morning – Content Scrum Agenda:

This methodology is all about establishing a routine and running the engine. Adopting key behaviors and a collaborative mindset are crucial.

In the download, I’ve provided additional detail on how the entire week should work. Monday’s content scrum, standing calls on Tuesday and Wednesday, a 30-min Exec Review on Thursday, etc. Most importantly, a Friday CONTENT DEADLINE that starts the process over again for the following week. It’s this greater routine and behavior that is truly key to success.

Want more? Register for my webinar on Tuesday, June 20 and learn more about how leading content marketers have evolved the way they work to take back control.