Content marketers often focus on writing, sometimes to the detriment of the other aspects of promoting a brand. They might also feel overwhelmed by the details they have to manage. Consequently, they might neglect the bigger picture, spelling disaster for workflows and coordination with other departments.
However, teams plan strategies and calendars based on this inaccurate picture of what they need to accomplish. No matter how many times a person has undertaken a task, he tends to underestimate how much time it takes to complete it. Furthermore, marketers discount the complexity of writing-adjacent tasks like research, optimization, repurposing, and promoting posts. Content marketing, in many people's eyes, is equivalent to content creation. In reality, writing is just one step in the process. Marketers need to have a paradigm shift; they need to stop thinking of their work in terms of projects and campaigns. Instead, they should think of their tasks in terms of systems.
Systems thinking is a disciplined approach to solving problems and working through tasks. It means holistically looking at projects, seeing the relationships between them, and how they affect or interact with projects in other departments. When marketers can hone their systems thinking mindset, they pay closer attention to how things relate. They develop a sensitivity to everything, from the paragraphs in their articles to their department's content creation procedure. They can also see the way the content calendar affects revenue generation. Systems thinking can also improve other aspects of marketing like content promotion and market research. Here are five aspects of content marketing that would benefit from a systems approach.
Market research is not a priority for most marketing teams. Besides the occasional customer survey, few teams have repeatable, documented processes for reaching out to the target market. You can have a system that includes regular Zoom chats, requests for case studies or testimonials, and surveys to email subscribers. The system needn't be complicated; you can have recurring calendar appointments and automated emails in place. The important thing is, data comes in regularly for the marketing team to analyze.
Many content marketers are also stuck running the hamster wheel of content; they're usually a day ahead of the calendar, but not more. Sometimes, teams don't know what to post for the week, leaving them in constant brainstorming mode. If the team has a system for taking insights and turning them into a content calendar, they can allow their thoughts to percolate before publishing. It also allows them to work on things actively, revising and researching as necessary, instead of doing everything all at once. The result is a carefully thought-out series of posts.
If other things on this list need more time, this aspect needs less. Marketers spend too much time on writing, often to the detriment of other things. You don't need to sacrifice quality for efficiency; building systems will allow you to speed through parts of content creation that become speed bumps. For example, if you conduct market research regularly, you'll always have ideas for content. Having a system for receiving feedback cuts down the amount of time you spend brainstorming topics for the blog, which means a quicker turnover of articles.
Getting people to read your work is the single best thing you could do for your brand. If you're a capable content marketer, you're probably able to craft a compelling narrative in your posts or paint an evocative picture of the benefits of using your products or services. If you don't tell people about your new post or campaign, though, you might as well have not written at all. Putting in work now will allow you to establish easier paths for your team later. When you have social media calendars, outreach templates, content promotion calendars, and other tools like these, you create for yourself a system for distributing content.
Having a system does not end with the "finished product" that is a post or a campaign. Understandably, you'd want to no longer think about a topic you've been writing about for several days, but having a set-and-forget approach to content creation means you miss out on chances to optimize your content. Repurposing your articles, for example, or revising old ones allows you to keep your content fresh and relevant to audiences. Do you have a process for what happens after you hit publish? Think of your content lifecycle beyond the publishing date of your post.
Streamlining your content should be nothing new to you, especially if you've been a content marketer for a while. Most of the things described in this article are probably things you have encountered or even implemented in part. However, to create a truly efficient system for your marketing efforts, you need to think of how these different aspects connect and influence each other.
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