Content Marketing that Scales: 3 Keys to Creating Value (Not Just More Content)

December 17, 2014

Jesse Noyes thinks something is rotten in the current state of your content marketing.
Scalable Content Marketing Operations | OpenView Labs
The Senior Director of Content Marketing at Kapost and former Managing Editor at Eloqua has seen it time and time again — while many companies realize the central role content plays in their marketing, most marketers are still fixated on “chasing after channels.” They decide they want to start doing more video or creating infographics, and that’s what guides all their efforts.
The problem with this approach, Noyes explains, is that channels and associated technologies are in constant flux. Marketers are inundated with shiny new objects every day. Developing a new content “strategy” for each new format or platform is both exhausting and ineffective. It distracts from the overall business objectives and dilutes your team’s focus. Instead, Noyes urges content marketers to spend less time focusing on the tactical “what” of content marketing and more time understanding the strategic “why.”

“In the end, this isn’t about doing more content marketing. It’s about how to create an operation around the content creation so that you’re creating more value.”

— Jesse Noyes, Senior Director of Content Marketing at Kapost

The Difference Between “Doing Content” and “Building a Content Marketing Operation”

Despite constant changes in channels and technology, content remains firmly at the center of the customer-seller relationship. No matter how it’s delivered or consumed, it must help you create and facilitate conversations with your increasingly independent buyers. According to CEB, 57% of the buyer’s journey is done before an initial call with sales. Gartner predicts by 2020 85% of the customer experience won’t include human interaction.
This means your prospects and customers — not the latest, greatest distribution channel — need to be at the center of your content marketing strategy. That’s why Noyes recommends getting clear about why you are creating content in the first place — what value you’re trying to deliver — then determining the best delivery formats and channels from there.
At Kapost, Noyes oversees the team responsible for creating the content that delivers 85% of annual new business. He also manages the overall communication strategy as well as enablement for both demand generation and the sales team. That’s a lot of powerful content.
According to Noyes, the only reason his team is able to work effectively and efficiently at that level is because they’ve worked very hard to “operationalize” their approach. For him, doing content is one thing. Building a successful and scalable content operation is another. A well-built content marketing operation provides a clear, organized, replicable process for producing, distributing, and analyzing your organization’s content. It keeps you focused on the big picture and it helps you communicate effectively, no matter what channel you’re using.

Why This Difference Matters: It’s the Only Way to Scale

Without operationalization:

  • Your team is constantly reinventing the wheel with each new content initiative — from eBooks and webinars to simple blog posts — seriously reducing efficiency.
  • Resources and budget go to waste when content either misses the target or is duplicated.
  • Projects get hung up in review and approval bottlenecks.
  • Details and entire projects can fall through the cracks.
  • Stakeholders and contributors within your organization are not invested in your efforts.
  • Perfectly good content gets lost in the “content landfill.”

With operationalization:

  • Each project serves a specific purpose and moves you forward towards accomplishing important marketing and business objectives. You can eliminate “random acts of content” and resource waste.
  • Your team follows a clear, replicable process that ensures content excellence and greater efficiency.
  • Your development and distribution processes are centralized for easier access and management.
  • You are able to extend the shelf life and reach of each piece of content through replicable repurposing, systematic distribution, and organized archiving.
  • It’s much easier to provide accurate and meaningful performance data on your content marketing initiatives.

Which sounds better to you?

3 Hallmarks of a Successful Content Marketing Operation

Noyes cites three attributes that are crucial to building a successful content marketing operation that scales:

1) Alignment

Each and every content marketing activity, from production to distribution, must be mapped against key business objectives. Optimally, each piece of content will target a specific buyer persona and a specific conversion point/sales stage and will be aligned with the theme customers care about most — solutions addressing their problems and issues. Noyes says that behind every great solution (including yours) is a really big problem. Discover your most effective content themes by walking backwards from your product towards the customer problem. Then create content that taps into your customer’s day-to-day concerns.
Managing content development and distribution against a single, centralized strategy also ensures that each piece of content makes sense within the context of the larger vision. You should be able to step back, assess how your content aligns with your buyers’ journeys, and address any gaps. You’ll also be able to eliminate rogue pieces of one-time content and extend the value of your efforts through smart repurposing.

2) Accountability

Noyes explains that content should not be thought of not as a “department,” but as a cross-functional, cross-channel practice that involves everyone in your organization. “Everyone needs to know their role and have a clear line of sight into the process,” Noyes says. “If they aren’t clear, they won’t do their part. And, if they can’t see the ultimate benefit, they won’t be fully invested in the effort.”
An effective content marketing operation requires clearly defined workflows, easy access to all assets, visibility into the content pipeline, and centralized distribution to inbound and outbound channels. “These tactical things might be boring and unsexy,” Noyes admits. “But, they really matter.”

3) Insight

Finally, you need to be able to assess content performance, including measuring return on investment beyond vanity metrics like page views and likes. “Your sales team and board aren’t interested in vanity metrics,” says Noyes. “You need to connect the dots between the systems so you can see the big picture. You need to be able to quantify how the content and campaigns you’re deploying are moving customers from one sales stage to the next.”
Having a streamlined content marketing operation also means increasing visibility into both your production process — you should be constantly striving to spot and remove bottlenecks to become increasingly efficient — as well as your current content library — identifying outdated or underutilized assets can lead to new content opportunities. That’s why one of the first steps Noyes recommends to develop a high-performing content operation is performing a content audit.
“In the end, this isn’t about doing more content marketing,” Noyes says. “It’s about how to create an operation around the content creation so that you’re creating more value. With a strategy focused on creating value, you can successfully adapt to any change.”

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Photo by: Horia Varlan

Senior Director of Marketing

<strong>Jesse Noyes</strong> is the Senior Director of Marketing of <a href="">Upserve</a>. Previously he was the Senior Director of Content Marketing at Kapost. He is an experienced marketing director leading the charge to make the prospect and customer experience enjoyable, rewarding and profitable. Jesse helped transform Eloqua into a leader in marketing automation, with his background and experience in journalism.