You can’t dress up process. No accessory exists that makes it more sexy or interesting. But when you’ve invested time in your process and operations, it shows in more way than one: happy employees, happy clients, high-performing content, and an efficient way to get from A to B (well, in our case, from A to B and then maybe C and D should weigh in, oh wait, E had a great thought…).
Here’s why: The right process and the right operations system to implement it not only help you create stronger content, but they also make it easier to produce that content. Reason enough? OK. Let’s dive in.
Process and Content Development Working Together
First things first: Depending on the volume of content you’re dealing with, you might need to use a digital platform to help you manage it. At D Custom, we use Kapost, which was specifically designed for managing content. It helps us keep tabs on all of our work across clients from idea to publishing and analytics. Whether you use a service or not, the following will apply — just how you put it into practice will change.
Determine your process.
Figuring out the process itself is easy; just ask yourself these questions:
What needs to happen to this piece of content to get it published?
Who needs to see it for review and approval?
In what order do these things need to happen?
Many stop there, but your process doesn’t stop at publishing. That’s when the fun stuff starts: We’re talking about promotion and amplification, so make sure these steps are documented, too. You want to make sure that only the bigger steps are represented in your list — get too detailed and your process won’t be used. In determining what’s best, try one way, see if it works, and then adjust it to create efficiencies. Rather than a straight line, your process should represent a full circle with measurement and optimization cycling back to improve content development and execution. If you aren’t constantly looking for ways to improve, you’re missing the most important step in your process.
Put your process into operation.
We use a digital workflow with tasks that must be checked off by assigned users for it to move forward. Don’t want to pay for a platform but want to stay digital? We’ve used Google Sheets to manage approvals and workflow tasks with great success. If you’re still working on paper, then an old-school checklist will do. (Should you need some help, we’ve created a template you can download.)
Create a strategic content template.
Each of your content types should have a discrete template that contains space for all the relevant information. For the uninitiated, a blog template might include space for headlines, meta descriptions, and tags; whereas print content templates will call out design elements like pull quotes, captions, and sidebars. Make sure you also include strategic information such as:
1. Target audience
2. Buying cycle
3. Content goal
This practice will keep those key items in mind while the content is being created and perfected — and if you aren’t keeping those things in mind, your content will never reach its full potential. For us, this all takes place in the form of custom fields that must be completed before the content can be trafficked. But prior to our digital transformation, we used to include this information everywhere: Word doc templates, old-school Excel content calendars, the occasional face tattoo. Turns out we need the reminder — constantly.
Improve your content.
Our strategy and content teams have access to real-time analytics — it satisfies their itch to have constant feedback. But we do a lot more than obsessively check page views — and so should you. That means delivering meaningful analytics and recommendations after the content has been published and promoted. For us, this happens in three phases:
1. Our strategy team creates in-depth reports on a client-by-client basis, measuring ROI and content effectiveness by several metrics and generating recommendations.
2. Our edit teams take that feedback and reviews the previous month’s published content to see what worked and what didn’t, figuring out how to best apply those recommendations.
3. We then do our best to apply them to the following month’s work.
Wash, rinse, repeat …
These are standard parts of our development process that occur across clients. But, we created a process and content execution template for you to download (if you want to, I mean, it’s not required and we won’t be hurt or anything, but, well, download it, or don’t, or just whatever). We hope it’s helpful! (Which you won’t know unless you download it. Just sayin’.)
Let us know if it was helpful or not by contacting us on social media or by email. We’d be happy to help!