30 Habits of Highly Productive Content Teams [Infographic]

30 Habits of Highly Productive Content Teams [Infographic]

Author: Marcia Riefer Johnston / Source: Content Marketing Institute If I could hand you a key to productivity, a key that would magicall

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If I could hand you a key to productivity, a key that would magically give you some nights and weekends back, what would you expect it to look like? I’m guessing that you wouldn’t picture a workflow.

Yet your workflow may be robbing you of nights and weekends, according to Heather Hurst, director of corporate marketing at Workfront, and Matt Heinz, president and founder of Heinz Marketing, who presented this topic during a ContentTECH session this year.

The content marketing workflow

The stages of a content marketing workflow look something like this:

  • Develop content ideas
  • Prioritize content development
  • Create
  • Organize and store
  • Publish and promote

As content teams move through these stages, information often moves from spreadsheet to email to a Word document and back again. Inefficiencies abound, and team members find themselves feeling frustrated, overworked, underappreciated, and unproductive.

By adopting the 30 habits described by Heather and Matt, you can improve your workflow to reap results like these:

  • Fewer nights and weekends spent on work
  • More successful budget requests
  • Coordination of efforts across silos
  • Increased visibility and appreciation for your team
  • Simplified approval processes

1. Look everywhere for content ideas

Encourage everyone in the organization – including those who don’t create content – to submit ideas.

“We hear a lot of people wondering where to get more ideas,” Matt says. “You’ll find inspiration for content everywhere if you’re grounded in who your target audience is. Your brain will filter for the right information.”

Here are some places Heather and Matt suggest looking for inspiration:

  • Customer feedback
  • Everything you read
  • People you disagree with
  • Customer-facing teams (sales, customer service)
  • Trade press
  • Conferences, panels, webinars
  • Twitter hashtags
  • LinkedIn answers
  • The news
  • Things you find dumb

That last one is my favorite. Are your potential customers getting dumb advice? That’s a content idea crying out to you.

2. Establish a process for requesting content

Create a process for people to request content (or to share a content idea). For example, you might use a dedicated email address, web form, or work-management tool. Document your process, make sure everyone understands it, and require everyone to follow it.

3. Select a process owner

Designate one person to manage the process of requested content. This, in itself, may turn an inefficient and complex process into an easy one. “The process owner doesn’t necessarily have to do a lot of work,” Matt says. The owner sorts and organizes ideas as they come in, simplifying the editorial team’s review task.

4. Include a creative brief with each request

Require that every content request include a creative brief that gives the content team the background information needed to create impactful content. A creative brief is a short document recently described by Katie Del Angel as follows:

“This is typically one page that helps the team – copywriters, designers, client stakeholders, and anyone else involved – understand what the high-level goals are for each (piece of content).

“The content brief ensures alignment about the information to convey, offers suggestions for how to present that information (large copy block or embedded video, for example), provides guidance for content creation, and supports an informed wireframe and design process.”

Provide a template for a content brief that works for all types of content. Fine-tune the template to include everything your team needs but no more. “You have to balance keeping the creative brief simple with getting enough information to make good business decisions,” Heather says.

For an example of what a creative brief looks like, see Katie’s article, A Content Strategy Starter Kit for Marketers.

5. Identify business goals for each request

Ask requesters to connect each content idea to a business goal. (Joe Pulizzi suggests that you look at these four goals for content marketing.) Will the content drive revenue? If not, how will that content be useful? What effect could it have, and how can that effect be measured?

For example, you might expect a good blog post to get people to read your blog more often. Maybe one piece of content generates leads or enables the sales team to more efficiently communicate a point to make people more likely to buy.

Matt suggests asking requesters to clarify the desired results for each content request they submit so that the people who create and use the content understand its intended purpose and business value. Heather agrees, adding, “It’s not all about revenue. It’s about aligning to whatever goal you have in place.”

6. Get the context for each request

Every piece of content needs to do more than give your audience something that’s worth paying attention to. As Heather puts it, “Content requests all need to roll up to the bigger corporate strategy or marketing strategy.”

Ask requesters questions like these: How should this content be targeted? In what context would this content have an impact? How does it fit with existing content? How does it support our strategy? Ask what you need to ask to get the big picture.

7. Establish a content-distribution strategy

Figure out early how each piece of content will be distributed. “Don’t make assumptions about how that content is going to get into the field,” Matt says. Make sure whoever is responsible for distributing each piece – maybe the sales team or some other customer-facing team – knows why they’re doing it.

“We’ve all seen content get introduced at a sales meeting and distributed in email,” Matt says. “And then everyone forgets it.”

“It just goes out into the ether,” Heather adds.

Before you set out to develop any piece of content, think through the costs and resources associated with distributing it successfully. Make sure your distribution strategy fits your budget and your people.

8. Identify all the content types and formats you need

Think through all the formats and all the types of content you’re going to need to support your content goals. For example, Heather says, “If you roll out a new brochure or a new slide deck in your sales kickoff, you may need a few things to back you up. Maybe you need signage around the sales department, or maybe you need follow-up emails or additional training for your enablement team.”

Will you need social media images? Blog posts? Infographics? Landing pages? Videos? Identify all the formats and types of content you need to succeed.

9. Prioritize all content requests

Don’t treat all content requests as equals. “Just because someone put an exclamation point in an email doesn’t mean that the idea is important,” Matt says. “You can’t get everything done right away. You can’t get everything done, period.”

Establish a system for prioritizing, especially when you’ve got a small team and limited resources. Examine your priority list regularly. Don’t do a project just because it happens to be in front of you or because someone has screamed for it. Consider the impact each piece of content might have and the degree to which timing could affect that impact.

10. Plan for reuse

Before you create a piece of content, envision opportunities to reuse it. For example, you might create a set of independent pieces (say blog posts) that you later feed into a big piece (like a book) for its own distribution. Or you might go the other direction and create a big piece (say a research report) and later break it into parts (like infographics) to use separately.

11. Know how much work you can commit to

Identify the parts of the business that you support. Choose your focus. Decide who your internal customers are and who they’re not.

Then ask yourself how you’ll allocate your time across those parts of the business. Do you support demand gen half the time and sales efforts half the time? Do you divide your time between demand gen, customer marketing, awareness, and recruitment? “You won’t necessarily split your time evenly,” Matt says. “It’s a nuanced game.”

Let everyone know how you’re allocating your time. “That clarity adds a whole lot of efficiency to the process,” Matt says.

12. Handle ad-hoc requests consistently

Allow for the unexpected. “Ad-hoc requests will come at you,” Heather notes. “Some content teams spend most of their time working on emergency projects and hardly ever get to their prioritized work.”