Like it or not, content creation is required to be relevant with customers, agile in messaging, and outperform competitors. Unless your business incorporates creative content, this process is going to be a slog. Consider the following best practices as a starting point in easing the pain and helping you harness better content that is easier to manage. Let’s create a roadmap for success, whether you’re a team of one or a network of departments.
Step One: Goals
Kick-off content creation with goals. Know where you’re heading and the rest should fall into place. Strip back to basics and the ultimate goal of what the content is trying to achieve. Be granular in identifying specific business goals and KPIs, essentially all the metrics that define what needle you’re trying to move. By defining these goals, you can optimize performance and pivot toward performance. In concert with audience needs, this precisely provides the content potential customers seek.
Examples of measurable goals include brand awareness, lead generation, SEO rankings, and goals specific to your industry.
Name these goals as you plan the initial content ideas so that you can see a clear roadmap and plan your messages for cohesiveness. It is possible to plan content in bulk and schedule these ideas anywhere from a month to a year out. Your most pressing business goals should align with the content created.
Step Two: Identify Each Step
This roadmap is sequential, so understanding the order of operations and who completes each step will make for a smoother process. Skipping this step guarantees missing deadlines and misidentified responsibility. Allotting time on the schedule for each part of the process, in tremendous detail, keeps deliveries on time and in scope. It’s easier for the team to understand the process when it’s spelled out.
In the same way that detailed business goals drive ideas, detailed content processes drive the schedule. Dig into every step when considering how much time to budget per project. For instance, writing, revisions, design, proofreading, and even review from the legal department are part of the timeline.
Step 3: Assignments
Put a name behind every item from step 2! Responsibility and follow-through depend on having people assigned to each task. Team dynamics thrive when everyone is on the same page, able to meet the same deadline. Without clear responsibility, the process and the deadline are at risk.
Unless you are a team of one, some of the roles that might be assigned to the tasks are:
- Project manager
Teams can move mountains with clear communication and ownership.
Step 4: The Timeline
Following the content creation process efficiently means not skipping steps, or chaos will ensue. Take the time to sequentially plan out each step to make sure that this creation is as organized as it can be. The order should be clear, with logical steps for each part of the process. You’re not going to write before you research or upload a document before it has been reviewed or even redesigned. Some of these tasks depend on the completion of other items, so don’t move along the timeline without alignment and completion. Some jobs can take place concurrently, and this timeline helps to get everyone on the same schedule.
Step 5: Deadlines and Milestones
This can get a little personal. Each contributor needs to estimate the time it takes to complete the job to be done. Then round up a little. Some items can be consolidated, others performed concurrently. The big picture should reflect the culmination of the estimated time to finish production.
Work backward from the deadline and, voila! You have a measurable, repeatable cadence for creating meaningful and impactful content. On your schedule. Over time, this cadence may change for a variety of reasons: your team becomes more efficient, your milestones/scope of projects change, or your goals pivot toward incorporating new and different ideas.
Step 6: Documentation
Ownership goes beyond the creation and publication of content. Being able to access and reference what the team created is another step that is owned by each part of the timeline. Filing the work that each member does in a way that makes it accessible to the team is key, with clear documentation of revisions and changes. Every team has a different process, storage system, and timeline. The one similarity shared universally is the responsibility to maintain and provide accessible data.
Going through each of these steps provides a big picture, a starting point for any team tasked with creating any kind of content. Digging into each step shines a light on roadblocks or even miscommunication. Putting processes into place makes it much easier to focus on the actual messages and goals of any business.