To scale your content marketing, stop thinking like a great home cook and start thinking like a restaurant chef.
A great home cook makes masterful, mouth-watering dishes adored by friends and family. In content marketing terms, their food performs well.
But here’s what typically happens when a home cook opens a restaurant based on those rave reviews. They hire kitchen staff to ramp up production and serve dishes to the masses. But the diners – some of whom are the same friends and family – don’t like the food. No dish tastes as good as it had in their home.
The problem? The home cook excelled when they controlled every part of the creation and distribution process. But they failed when they expanded their team and output because they missed an important step. They didn’t create processes or systems to replicate what they did at home.
Often, small content marketing teams encounter a similar problem when trying to scale their content production and distribution.
To scale your content marketing, do what restaurant chefs do: Create systems and processes that let you deliver delicious content no matter who is involved in creating and distributing it.
To help you do that, we asked the experts presenting at ContentTECH Summit for their advice.
Here’s what they had to say:
Focus on quality, then build on best performers
Everyone is looking for efficient ways to scale their content marketing. Sometimes people think this means getting as much content as they can for the lowest price possible – but that usually isn’t the best approach. Instead, focus on unique, quality content that speaks to your target market.
But how do you scale that when you need more content? How do you make your brand a content powerhouse? Analytics and planning. Look at your best-performing pieces or topics and build on those.
Maybe you handle marketing for a bakery and you have a popular blog post about different types of bread. You could branch out into other types of content – for example, brief videos for Instagram or TikTok showing people trying to make the bread. You would also have opportunities for user-generated content by encouraging your fans to submit videos or other content on the topic.
Then you can build off the most popular pieces of offshoot content. In this way, you’re continually reusing ideas, producing more high-quality pieces of content, and generating new ideas for still more content. – Juntae DeLane, founder and chief strategist, Digital DeLane
Do one thing well, then expand
I’ve always been a believer in CMI and Joe Pulizzi’s advice to focus on one channel at a time – really master it before moving to the next. You don’t need a podcast, video series, blog, and resource center out the gate.
I usually recommend starting with a blog and a core thought leadership piece, such as an e-book or white paper, to begin building thought leadership and engagement. Once you see what’s gaining traction, you can begin to repurpose that content to scale your program gradually into new channels and formats. – Ali Wert, director of inbound marketing, SmartBug Media
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Break it down
Build repeatable processes by breaking down the tasks. I detailed this on my blog. For example, you’re producing a weekly series of mini- surveys of relevant experts with charts and contributor quotes. When you break down the tasks involved, you can see how they can be handled by various team members.
- Build a list of relevant experts you can reach out to consistently.
- Send a semi-standard email inviting them to contribute a tip that answers a question. To contribute, they click a survey link.
- Include some multiple-choice questions (which lead to data) and short answers (which will be their insights/tips).
- Give the responses to the writing team to produce a detailed, long-form piece.
- Give the data to a designer to create the charts.
- Edit, publish, post to social media.
- Email each contributor, letting them know the post is live. Encourage them to share.
Most of the work can be documented and delegated. The content strategist chooses the topics, measures the performance of each, and iterates. Scaling up is possible. – Andy Crestodina, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Orbit Media Studios
Ask “what if,” then automate
Scaling content marketing can mean many things. Start by asking yourself and your team, “What if …” in relation to the personal and team contributions. It could be “What if we tripled our publication cadence?” Or “What if we knew for certain that every piece of content would perform well?” Or “What if we automated the annoying tasks that take up 50% of our time?” Then, answer those questions tactically.
Scaling almost always incorporates automation. The best place to start automating is manual, repeatable, time-sensitive tasks. The software adds to expenses, yes, but it’s important to think about what your team’s time is best worth doing.
Making decisions off the best data will also help you scale because your team will spend less time on bad content and direction. It’s not necessarily about investing more but investing in the right things that will provide the best output for your team and the program. – Jeff Coyle, co-founder and chief strategy officer, MarketMuse
Learn from performance to end the spray-and-pray approach
Scaling content marketing is a data-driven activity. Brands need to make sure they are working smarter, not harder when it comes to content creation and scaling content marketing. Continuously look at content performance and content effectiveness. What content are users engaging with? What content are they searching for? What content is helping guide users through their journey? What content helps lead to conversions/transactions/purchases?
Having this data and funneling it through content teams will help brands move away from a spray-and-pray content approach and focus on more strategic scaling by creating more content similar to that which has proven to be effective and engaging for customers. – Jill Grozalsky, product marketing director, experience platform, Sitecore
Go big and multiply
Scaling content marketing means multiplying your effective content output without multiplying your effort. The fastest track to scaling marketing content is through what Content Monsta calls “big content.”
The best big content is video and podcasts. These types can generate all other types of content. They also can be captured through conversation. This means less time scripting/writing and more unique content (better SEO). In the case of podcasts, it also means built-in co-sign from guest contributors. – A. Lee Judge, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Content Monsta
Get ready for the revolution
We’re in the midst of a content revolution, and marketers are being tasked with creating more content across more channels, formats, regions, and target audiences than ever. It’s enough to make your head spin. Marketers need help, particularly across three areas:
- More creative firepower: Leverage freelance creatives to bring in fresh perspectives and scale production across skillsets that most brands don’t have internally. Things like long-form reporting, animated video, interactive data storytelling, and podcasting.
- Unifying tech: Enterprise marketers need content technology that brings together your freelancers and global teams and allows them to scale, managing and optimizing their content program on one platform across regions.
- Success benchmarks: Implement easy-to-understand analytics that allow you to tell the story of the success of your content program to everyone else in the organization.
– Joe Lazauskas, head of content strategy, Contently
Structure a circular framework
To talk about scaling content marketing, we have to talk about the content experience – the environment in which your content lives, how it’s structured, and how it compels your prospects and customers to engage with your company.
Follow the five steps in the content experience framework: centralize content, organize content, personalize experiences, distribute content, and generate results:
- Bring all content into a repository you can manage.
- Audit your content.
- Personalize experiences now that the content is tagged and organized well.
- Distribute the content to surface it before audiences.
- Generate results, which is where your efforts to scale really show up.
This creates the full circle. – Randy Frisch, co-founder, chief marketing officer, and president, Uberflip
Develop an editorial calendar
Getting on a schedule and setting deadlines is essential to scaling your content development process. Whether you want to publish new content once a week or twice a month, an editorial calendar can help you plan the topic clusters that will elevate your keyword rankings and brand expertise.
Think about the goals you want your content to accomplish, and then set performance benchmarks with rankings, traffic, links, or social shares alongside your content deadlines. – Manick Bhan, chief technology officer and founder, LinkGraph
Answer educational questions
Scaling content marketing does not require as much money as most people think. But it does require an understanding that the success of your marketing programs hinges on how much and how often you are helping your audiences with the content you publish on your website.
The buyer journey doesn’t start with a search for your product. It starts with the most basic educational questions that must be answered frequently. That’s the only way to scale content marketing. – Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group
The advice from these ContentTECH Summit speakers should have your mind running with the possibilities for how to scale your content marketing program. Coming up with ideas is a good first step. Now, it’s time to figure out what can work for your company. Put time on your calendar to figure out how to expand your content program’s impact on the business – while continuing to satisfy hungry patrons.
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute