How A Ticked Off Client Forced Us To Get Real About Content Marketing Overload
Every day there is a new “must do” B2B content marketing tactic you need to add to your growing list. Here’s how to identify what works and align your strategy with your time and resources.
“Screw it. I’m done.”
I saw this coming. My client, a marketing manager at a mid-sized B2B company, was overwhelmed by the crushing load of supporting a content marketing program all by himself. I had watched his frustration build over several weeks. Lately, every time I visited he walked in the conference room, looking like he had been hit by a bat.
Frankly, it was my fault. His boss expected quick results and we were throwing every tactic against the wall to see what worked. Every new idea resulted in 2–3 hours of more work on his plate.
Today, he was ready to throw in the towel and probably our contract with it. Like an ER doctor, I slipped into triage mode to save the program (and my client). I told him to let me buy him an early lunch. Three hours later, we had a game plan that aligned his resources with a pared down plan.
That experience taught our team to approach content marketing strategy with a minimalist approach, an approach that recognizes that the best plans fail when a business doesn’t have the time to execute it.
Today we’ll take you through the best practices we’ve developed to maximize time and results.
Get Real About Your Content Strategy
Can you access your complete content marketing plan in the next 30 seconds?
Have you edited your content marketing plan in the last 30 days?
Those diagnostic questions show where your time has gone.
If you can’t access your plan it means that it’s hard to find or doesn’t exist. Either way, it means that your plan is reactionary and vague. Instead of executing your plan, you spend most of your time hunting for another tactic to carry out. If you have a team, you probably spend most of the week explaining your thinking or reacting to emergencies.
If your plan hasn’t been edited in the last 30 days then, your plan isn’t relevant or doable.
For example, our team learned that blog posts that are longer than 1200 words attract the most links from third-party websites. Based on this data, we went back and tweaked our process and deadlines to accommodate a longer writing timeline for our writers.
The famous Abraham Lincoln quote offers the common-sense wisdom of having a plan:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax” — Abraham Lincoln
Creating a specific content marketing plan saves time because it set’s the direction, tempo, and intensity of your content marketing activity.
Stellar Content Marketing Is About Focus
Like most effective marketing strategies, content marketing isn’t simple or quick. Fortunately, your content game plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Adopt this mindset — do what’s required based on objectives, resources, and time. My favorite quote from Bruce Lee is an excellent guide:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” — Bruce Lee
The guiding thought here is stop doing everything poorly and focus on doing 2–3 three tactics masterfully. When I’m asked what Pushing Social does, I often say, we help businesses find the one content marketing tactic that will dramatically improve their position in the marketplace.
Trying to do everything is a fool’s errand that wastes time. Get real about your resources and start trimming your plan. By the way, it’s never too late to streamline your content plan. In B2B marketing, time IS money.
Here are a few guidelines to get you started:
If you are a one-person business or marketing team,
Then focus on:
- Consistently creating four quality articles
- Promoting these articles on 2–3 platforms suited to your audience
If you are a small B2B marketing team in a business with a sales team,
Then focus on creating sales-focused content that reliably turns visitors into sales qualified leads
If you are a medium-sized team that has a content marketing lead,
Then focus on
- Creating content that generates marketing qualified leads
- Craft a reliable system for vetting MQLs to get them ready for the sales team
If you are a large marketing team with a dedicated content marketing group,
Then focus on:
- Strengthening the fundamentals:
Even at the height of his career, Kobe Bryant still made time to shoot 400 successful shots during his practice sessions. You can always refine your work by:.
- Consistently publishing of well-crafted content,
- Developing sales enablement content
- Testing and optimizing of content based on core KPI (Key performance indicators)
Establish Time-Saving Habits
I’m often asked to evaluate the performance of content marketing managers. I always start with attending the content professional’s meetings and reviewing their day-to-day routine. To be blunt, time leaks occur when leaders waste time making decisions due to poor preparation.
I’m not a productivity guru, but here’s what has worked for me after writing over 700 blog posts for Pushing Social and creating over 2,000 pieces of content for clients. Here are some habit’s that have been helpful to me:
5 Time-Saving Content Leader Habits:
#1: Editorial guidelines: Your content creator needs a clear understanding on what content will be approved. Create these guidelines and stick to them.
#2: 30-Minute Huddles: Once a week, invite everyone to a stand-up only meeting to discuss obstacles and issues. Limit the obstacles to 1 or 2 per meeting. I ask team members to send their obstacles before the meeting so the team can come prepared with advice or resources.
#3: What Then Why (Data then Opinion): Marketers are susceptible to relying on uninformed opinions dressed up as “gut instinct.” I’ve watched gut-instinct marketers go bankrupt. Instead, gather data and use it to inform your decision-making. This approach cuts down on hours-of-hours of speech-making masquerading as ideation.
#4: Key Performance Indicator (KPI) One-Pagers: I believe 80% content marketing teams can streamline their reporting to one-page. Start with your top 3 key performance indicators, annual goals attached to KPIs and how the metric is tracking against your annual goal.
#5: Ask the Meeting Question: Before you schedule a meeting ask, Do we need to have this meeting and who doesn’t need to be here? I’ve regained 5 hours a week doing this.
3 Time-Saving Content Creator Habits
Your top priority is staying out of meetings. As a creator, you need to get in the zone and stay there as long as you can. These suggestions will save you time and produce more:
#1: Planning before doing: Start your week with a game plan for achieving your content creation goals.
#2: Outline before creating: Use an outline to game plan your content creation sessions. In my experience, blog posts that start with an outline, always outperform posts created on a whim.
#3: Use a three-day content creation cadence:
Day 1: Creation Day: Focus on outlining and drafting your content unit (i.e. blog post, podcast, video, etc.). Restrain from editing it will just slow you down and waste time.
Day 2: Editing Day: Turn good into great by paying attention to the details and editing the snot out of your content.
Day 3: Publishing & Promotion Day: Promotion is your content’s oxygen. Spend a day executing your promotional checklist.
You can download our Publishing Checklist in the Content Toolbox. Register or login here to get free access.
Keep It Simple
Take a breath.
Give yourself permission to let a few balls drop and use the tips we discussed to architect a sane and successful content marketing strategy. A simple and focused plan will work.
“How A Ticked Off Client Forced Us To Get Real About Content Marketing Overload” was originally published on Pushing Social on May 17th, 2017.