This article comes from our good friends at Crescendo Content Marketing, a content marketing software solution, based in Boston. To learn more about Crescendo, visit crescendocontent.com. We all know that increasing the output of quality content has a tremendous impact on our marketing. If we ever doubt this, we are reminded with myriad articles, benchmark reports, and emails that flood our inboxes every week. How about fewer reminders on what I’m not doing enough of, and more information on how I could achieve the improved output!? As Director of Marketing at Crescendo Content Marketing, I work with a lot of content marketers and have heard many of the issues that tend to stand in the way of content output. Here are six of the biggest culprits, with some suggestions on how to overcome them. 1. Unsure of Audience It sounds like Marketing 101, but making sure you understand your audience is one of the biggest components of creating valuable content. If you don’t know your audience, it can be the first roadblock in content development. Having a profile of your target—title, business role, industry, purchase authority, etc.—is important, but it doesn’t always drive you to the right depth of understanding. While it does require effort, I strongly suggest you develop personas for your audience. Best described by Katie Martell at Cintell, a persona is a “strategy tool used to help a company focus its efforts on a specific group of people.“ By determining prospect motivations—not just demographics—personas help focus your content development, and they can be used across the entire organization to better understand prospects. Related: Context First: The First 3 Steps to Create Relevant Marketing Strategies 2. Unsure of Goals Even the best writers need to understand the purpose of a piece before diving in. With pressure to increase our content cadence, we often spend less time planning. By avoiding this step, we can lose sight of the intended goal. The 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, indicates that content marketing effectiveness improves by 55% when there is organizational clarity on what success looks like.   Whether the classic prospect funnel is dead, non-linear, or turned on its side, prospects still move through stages, and your content needs to meet prospects at where they are in the buyer’s journey: Awareness, Interest, Consideration, and Decision. The goal of awareness content is to attract the right audience and educate him until he’s aware he has a need. Interest content focuses on turning a prospect into a lead by helping them figure out how to solve his problem. As you move further down the funnel you want to create consideration content, which help build brand preference, and lastly decision content that ultimately converts users to a client after showing them that you are in fact the best option. 3. The Need for More Ideas While sounding old school, we still have weekly marketing meetings at Crescendo. We make sure this meeting is set in stone (Tuesday, 10AM) as it is critical to fill the content funnel. We sit in an open bullpen environment and use tools like Slack to stay constantly updated on projects and programs, so we use this weekly session to brainstorm content and campaign ideas. In addition to new ideas, we also spend time thinking of ways to repurpose existing content—a terrific way to increase content output!    In addition to the idea brainstorming sessions, within our product Crescendo we have an Ideas column in our content manager. Anyone in the organization can go in there and add an idea for a blog—great ideas come from lots of people at all times of the day. Contributors can go into Crescendo and find an idea they’re comfortable writing about and assign it to themselves. Having a stable of ideas at the ready, and allowing writers to self-assign, is a great way to increase content quality and output. 4. Ad Hoc Scheduling One of the hardest things when starting a content marketing program is establishing and sticking to a specific content cadence. Committing to a consistent publishing cadence is more important than producing volumes and volumes of content and then petering out. It may seem blatantly obvious, but an editorial calendar that can be shared across the company is one of the best ways to help with consistency. The organizational benefits of a calendar are obvious, but there are secondary benefits. If a plan has been shared publicly, the likelihood of contributors hitting their deadlines increases. It’s one thing to let your Content Marketing Manager down; it’s another to be shamed publicly by missing your deadline. Additionally, if someone in the organization sees a gap in the content calendar, you’d be surprised how often you’ll get volunteers to fill the gap. If a content calendar is only viewable to one person (or small team) you can’t garner these benefits. 5. Not Enough Contributors If you don’t have a stable of eager writers dying to contribute content, this can be a huge obstacle. But many marketers overlook potential contributors because they are looking for established writers. With guidance and encouragement, many colleagues can be convinced to develop content.   One of the best ways we’ve found to do this is to offer various types of content marketing. Our VP of Products is charismatic, so when we offered to film a short video blog instead of forcing her to write something, she jumped at the chance. Having a conversation with a technical resource and turning their insights into a more approachable infographic is a win for them and for your audience. Everyone has different levels of comfort for their “public self” but if you align the format to this comfort level you can see some great results. If you’ve set up goals for your content (see above), you can also create Leaderboards and indicate which contributors are having the largest impact. Introverts and extroverts alike enjoy a little competition and this often encourages more people to get involved. If you can offer nominal or comical prizes beyond bragging rights, even better. 6. No Access to Design Resources If marketers aren’t griping about meager budgets, they are probably bellyaching about lacking key resources to try new content formats. I have lived through this frustration myself. Lack of expertise stifling your creativity is incredibly frustrating.   One of the best recommendations I’ve received is to use some budget early to create reusable templates. If you have an existing relationship with a digital marketing agency, or utilize sites like 99designs, you can get some terrific designs at a reasonable rate. If you tell them you want them to be designed for future repurposing, that up-front cost is worth it for the increased content it affords. We recently gathered feedback from a year’s worth of submissions on one of our assessment tools. Instead of outsourcing the infographic work to a designer, my Content Marketing Lead used infogr.am to develop an interactive infographic. We have an awesome interactive version that drives traffic to our blog, and we have a PDF-formatted version that is great for sharing across social. While I could illustrate a few other tools we use (Prezi, Canva, Pixlr, Google templates, others) there are great articles that go into great detail on free and cheap marketing technologies that can help with content formats. Increasing the output and efficiency of your content marketing program might seem challenging, but it’s not impossible. Understand where bottlenecks have developed, create a process to mitigate those challenges, and you’ll master the art of being a great content marketer. About Our Guest Author David Cunningham started his career editing and marketing college textbooks. With shouts of “Publishing is Dead,” he transitioned to online marketing, which he’s been doing for nearly 20 years. Working closely with executives, sales, and product management, David develops marketing strategies that drive leads, build brands, and exceed KPIs. When not crushing marketing goals or buying the latest tech gadgets, you can find David pouring beers at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark and the “Cathedral of Boston”—Fenway Park. hbspt.cta.load(461099, '8a81d382-4319-4379-a468-90165eff304a', {});
How to Build a Content Strategy to Increase Leads Now