Everybody is talking about content marketing. How it is the best way to drive traffic to your site, how businesses are three times as likely to see higher ROI on inbound than outbound marketing campaigns, how 86% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing.
This all sounds great. But what you’re not being told is that once you commit to a winning content marketing strategy, it becomes a relentless beast that requires constant feeding. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), 77% of B2C marketers expect to increase the amount of content they produce.
The volume and variety of material needed includes text, video, images, graphics, e-books, white papers, infographics and other content assets distributed through content management systems, media platforms and the social graph. But crucially, quality is even more important than quantity.
In that same CMI report, the majority of marketers were not as concerned with producing enough content or measuring how well their programs performed, as they were with “producing engaging content.” Churning out infographics, blog posts and videos can be achieved with enough perspiration but it doesn’t leave much time for inspiration or its key cohort, collaboration.
This is what ultimately crushes the spirit of content creating teams, from the brand gal who wants stories told about her product to the Photoshop guy tasked with ironing out all of those digital wrinkles to the community manager who needs to share the content with the world.
When producing content marketing material becomes more about churning through the process than collaborating on the creative, the final product suffers and audiences disengage. But there is hope if, like the following three content marketing creators, you can avoid getting bogged down in creative collaboration with some innovative thinking and tools.
1. Make your workflow as innovative as your ideas
When Boise-based agency, Drake Cooper, started working with the state’s official travel marketer, Idaho Tourism, they hit on the brilliant idea of commissioning high-quality photography and videos about Idaho’s scenery, people and attractions. By creating an open source library for publishers around the world to access, they helped their client promote the state in the best possible light in travel guides, magazine features and TV shows.
But “getting client approvals for thousands of photographs and hours of video material using traditional file management tools or email was difficult, ” Britton Hennessy, an engagement specialist at Drake Cooper says.
Instead, the agency changed its process and sourced a visual collaboration tool that allowed everyone to view and approve high-res images and videos in one place.
“It was a huge improvement over viewing filenames in a folder. The bigger the shoot, the more time it saves,” he says.
Don’t let great ideas be smothered by a tired old process. Find new and faster ways to keep the creative juices moving.
2. Open more direct channels of communication
Marketing agency, Social Envi used to have a process where project managers would take notes from a client and pass the creative feedback to the design team.
“But a non-designer can miss subtle points,” says Creative Director, Byong Bark, “so we started opening up direct lines of communication from our client’s art director to our design team that still keep the project manager in the loop. Suddenly, fewer key points were getting lost in translation.”
This new transparency has also helped with the overall process of content creation. By ensuring that all feedback, creative conversations and updates happened in one place, anyone could find out what was happening with a project.
“Project managers can now easily see what stage a project is at, which previously required a conversation with the creative team that may interrupt their flow,” Bark says. “This heightened visibility also helps keeps everyone on their toes. If your work is late, everyone knows it.”
Keeping creative teams and clients or stakeholders away from each other is a tradition worth breaking to enable a clearer and more transparent process.
3. Establish a single system of record
As U.S. Marketing Media Coordinator, Michael Klein, for global engineering software and services firm, MiTek, spends a lot of time managing multiple stakeholders, sometimes up to 45 people on a single project. With multiple videos, newsletters, magazines and trade show assets to create every month, he needs to keep his projects flowing but also have a visible digital trail of the journey of a piece of content.
“If someone asked why a change was made, it was increasingly easy to find the answer quickly,” Klein says.
By establishing a single system of record to collect all feedback on images and videos, Klein improved his process enormously.
“Now we have group visibility so everyone could see what everyone else was saying,” he says. “Plus, we have the paper trail so you could easily find where someone had requested an edit. Accountability is built into our feedback loop.”
Avoid spreading your collaborative efforts across various communication tools and get a single system of record for your creative process.
Use these techniques to streamline your content creation process and produce better creative that drives business results without crushing your team in the process.
Deborah Holstein is the vice president, marketing for Hightail, Inc. Holstein can be contacted at Deborah.Holstein@hightail.com or @HightailHQ