A 2013 Strategic Priority: Building a Content Factory
The 5 Things You Should Be Working on Now so that You’re Ready to Build a Content Factory in the New Year
I’ve spent 2012 explaining how content marketing is about increasing your company’s visibility by creating and publishing highly relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage prospects and customers, and move them down the path to purchase. By building a content factory, companies can create a steady stream of high-quality content. That, in turn, can go a long way toward achieving important goals, including lead generation, better search rankings and Web traffic, customer renewal and retention, and increased brand awareness and perception.
A content factory is simply the people, processes, and tools you’ll need to support your content marketing efforts effectively. Throughout my ongoing series on building a content factory, I’ve talked about various aspects of creating one. This week, I’m continuing the series by outlining the five things you need to do right now to get ready to build one in 2013.
1) Get Absolute Clarity
Before building your content factory, you need to have three key elements in place:
- A clearly articulated brand position and identity
- A clear set of goals and objectives
- A clear understanding of your target audience
If you don’t know who you are, what you’re trying to achieve, and who you’re marketing to, it’s going to be impossible to create an effective content factory.
2) Hire A Managing Editor
Building and running a content factory is a full-time job, and cannot be viewed as an add-on to someone’s existing responsibilities. Without the focus and attention of at least one dedicated employee, your content factory will never take off. You need someone who can build and run your content factory, which requires a combination of editorial and project management experience as well as a strong understanding of online marketing. That person is a managing editor.
Specifically, his or her responsibilities will include:
- Developing a content strategy that aligns with key business goals
- Managing the internal and external resources necessary to run a content factory (writers, editors, graphic designers, content management systems, etc.)
- Creating and managing an editorial calendar
- Overseeing day-to-day content creation
- Developing and executing a content distribution and promotion strategy
- Reporting metrics to executive leadership
The managing editor’s job is to marshal and oversee the resources necessary to ensure that all of the trains necessary to produce your desired content run on time.
3) Conduct an Audit of Your Existing Content
Even thought you may not have a content factory yet, you’ve invariably got some kind of content. Whether it’s the pages of your company’s website, a piece of collateral, or a one-off article or case study, it’s important to take the time to review and catalogue any and all existing content. In doing so, you want to answer the following questions:
- What type of content is it (web page, article, video, etc.) and what’s it about?
- When was is created?
- How was it distributed and used?
- How successful was it (how many page views did it garner, how many leads did it generate, what if any feedback was received about it, etc.)?
Track this information using a simple Excel spreadsheet. The purpose is to establish a clear understanding of what’s already in place and how effective it was. Knowing those details will help inform your eventual content strategy.
4) Talk to Your Key Stakeholders
Now that you’ve got an impression of the company’s existing content — good or bad — it’s time to further your understanding by talking to people. Talk to other members of the marketing team, talk to the sales team, and, if at all possible, talk to some of your customers.
Find out from your colleagues:
- What types of content have historically worked well with your target audience?
- What types of content should the company be creating that it hasn’t previously?
- What topics or issues should that content be addressing?
- Who are the thought leaders in your organization who have the knowledge and expertise to help drive high-quality content?
Find out from your customers (either directly or via customer-facing colleagues):
- Which types of information do they need most?
- Which formats do they prefer to consume their content in?
- How often do they like to get new content?
You can get answers to these questions by conducting one-on-one interviews or even crafting a brief survey. The point is to get as much input as possible about not only what’s happened in the past, but what people are looking for going forward. These are all critical details you’ll need to build your content factory.
5) Get Attuned to Your Industry
In addition to talking to stakeholders, it’s important to have a solid understanding of your industry and what the people in it are and aren’t talking about. That way, you increase your chances of your content factory creating content that’s both timely and relevant and about the hot topics in the industry (i.e., stuff people care about).
You can do this by following industry blogs and reading industry news, following relevant industry influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn, and monitoring what your competitors are covering. This is an ongoing process and one that you will need to perform regularly throughout the life of your content factory.
A new year is just around the corner. Give your company a better way to engage your customers by building a content factory!