If you’ve never thought about approaching content creation like you would a game of golf, then, according to our podcast guest, Robert Rose, perhaps it’s time to start. For more than 25 years, Robert has helped marketing leaders balance the art and science of marketing and tell their story more effectively. Over the last ten years, Robert and his firm The Content Advisory have advised more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100. Robert has served as the Chief Strategy Advisor of The Content Marketing Institute since its launch in 2010 and helping guide it to be the leading global content marketing education and training organization. Robert has written three books on the topic of Content Marketing, and his latest, Killing Marketing, with co-author Joe Pulizzi has been called the “unlock on what marketing should be in the 21st century.” He joins Amy on this episode of the Content 10x Podcast to talk about when enough is enough with your content, and how to measure impact. Listen to the full podcast episode here:
What you aim for in golf is a balance of efficiency in terms of making sure every shot is a quality shot. Because the whole point of golf is to hit the ball the least amount of time. This, says Robert is an interesting way to approach how we create value with our content. Because our goal should be to create the least amount of it, but still have the maximum amount of impact. But what does Robert mean by impact? It could be: And ultimately, if we're doing it really well, we're achieving our desired impact by creating content as infrequently as we need to or want to. The whole point is to constantly ask yourself, “how can we create as little as we can, with the maximum amount of impact.”
Why do content marketing teams feel they have to create so much content? Whether you are a one-person team or heading up a large marketing department, it’s the same across the board. We are often trained as content creators to think container first, then content, explains Robert. In other words, we know we need a newsletter, white papers, a blog or webinar series for example – the container – and then we think, how do we constantly fill that full of content? This says Robert leads us into the trap of having to think up loads and loads of ideas – filling lots of containers with lots of ideas. “We feel like we have to continually produce more and more in order to meet the demand. That puts stress on the quality of the content because if we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t have that many great ideas!” So how do we go about shifting that mentality?
We have to start thinking about what the story is. What is the content and message first and then, once we’ve got that content, we create a few digital assets and we distribute and repurpose that. By “content” first, Robert means forget about the “container” – which is the format or platform – rather think about the key message – what do you want to say? Nail that down first. Then develop a small amount of really high quality, core, pillar content. Once you have created your pillar content, focussed on the right messaging, then you can work out how to use it and repurpose it to fill up your “containers”. As Robert describes it, “When the content team provides a fire hose of content, there’s too much waste, but everybody’s thirst is quenched. But when the content team gives people a garden hose, less content gets used and everybody is still thirsty”. In the podcast episode we discussed this analogy further and Robert speaks a lot more about this in his excellent article, Why You Should Treat Content Marketing Like a Golf Game. Moving on from the more more more approach We covered how to do more with less recently and are 100% on board with Robert’s belief that businesses can become so immersed in content that they lose their way. It’s pervasive, it’s everywhere, says Robert. So it provides no competitive advantage. As Robert advises the businesses he consults for, whether you’re Marvel creating Superhero movies or you’re Gary Vaynerchuk creating content on social media, none of your content will give you any sort of competitive advantage over the long haul. Because it’s going to get copied, duplicated and ultimately someone will do it better than you.
The content is only a vehicle in the moment. What the sustainable competitive advantage is, is the operations, the processes you put in place for your editorial strategy. They are repeatable, they become a habit, so you can create content at scale… We go into this in detail in our blog post on how to develop systems and processes for content repurposing. Putting these processes in place in the first instance is often what puts people off. It seems like it’ll be more work, so instead, many just stay on the hamster wheel of creating more and more new content because that’s what they’ve always done. However, says Robert it pays to take a step back and see what you should do and how you should do it.
Have set objectives so you can measure impact It’s so important to have measurable, achievable objectives when it comes to our content. If we make our goal to achieve “as much as possible”, it becomes impossible to succeed. We need to define what our KPIs are, so we know if we are achieving our objectives. There are many things we can measure, so we need to know what success looks like for us and our individual campaigns – whether it’s increased engagement on social channels, more traffic to our website or sending out more proposals. If we know our goal then we can develop meaningful KPIs – then work back from there as to how much content we create to meet them For example, your goal is to create enough content that results in getting 15 sales calls per month, you discover the sweet spot where that KPI is being met – you therefore need no more content than what you are currently creating. How to make sure your content finds your audience Platforms are good at putting good content in front of us. So how do we work with that system to make sure our good content finds our audience? Robert says there are two ways. Don’t create your content for Google. Create it for people. Get straight into the meat of the piece straight away. Sure, be on every channel, but use that content to pull people toward the platforms that you want them to reside on. Use external media as a means to pull your audience onto your chosen platforms. Instead of approaching content creation with a more more more mentality, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself and your team, how can you create less content and still have the maximum amount of impact? Does your team work with a ‘less is more’ mentality when it comes to content? If so, remember to make every shot a quality shot! For more great tips and advice, connect with Robert on LinkedIn or on Twitter.