How to build the content pipeline

Peter Drucker once said that, “marketing is not a function, it is the whole business seen from the customers point of view.”  If marketing is the whole business, then it follows that content marketing has something to do with the whole business too. The content our customers see is the stories we tell, the problems we solve, the information we share, and the feelings we communicate through every connection with our customers whether the connection is through sales or service or the guy who delivers the package to their doorstep. The job of the content marketing machine is to collect these stories, package them and redistribute them when, where and how our customers wish to consume them.

A content machine requires a pipeline of fresh content in order keep up with demand. The question is how one gets the content to flow through the pipeline. It all starts with the voice of the customer. Customer demand tells us what content needs to be produced. For example, the sales team hears the same questions over and over again. Having written the same email two or three times to answer a question they now have a signal that there is demand for that content. When this signal is received a new concept enters the content pipeline. The exact method used to share the new concepts is less important, the most important thing is that everyone knows what the method is. You could use email, SharePoint, or a content marketing platform like Kapost.

There is another way that concepts can get started in the pipeline. Marketing conducts interviews while developing buyer personas. During these interviews marketers learn about the problems that buyers have that lead to making a purchasing decision, they learn about the decision process buyers follow, where they look for information, the criteria they use in evaluating alternatives, and the metrics used to judge their success. This information tells the marketer what content the buyer is looking for at each stage of the buying cycle. This informs the content strategy. An audit of existing content versus the content strategy reveals gaps. The gaps become the concepts for new content that then enters the content pipeline.

New concepts will be evaluated against a set of criteria that will include alignment with content strategy. If the concept passes through this step it will be placed on the editorial calendar and assigned to a writer. The writer turns in her assignment before the deadline. An editor reviews the content and evaluates it against a larger set of criteria. The content may be returned to the writer for rework or move on to the publishing phase. Once published the content is tagged for future reference with information such as persona type, phase of buying cycle, product category, format, etc…

You may have noticed that one piece of this process seems like magical thinking. Who are the content creators that show up and take assignments for new content? Where do they come from?  The answer is they usually come from within your company and many of them are from outside the marketing organization.  Sounds great, however, it’s not clear why people who have their own work to do would suddenly start creating content for marketing.

I’ll explain how to cross the content chasm in my next post.

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