Speed up content marketing approval when multiple people are involved – Part 2

Our last article in the series, Multiple phases of approving content slows down companies – Part 1, explained why companies struggle to get content approved within their organization. This article provides some recommendations to improve your internal processes.

Assigning ownership for a streamlined approach to scaling content

Designating ownership of who is responsible for each task is a great way to clear up confusion so that you can execute on the plan.
Pinpoint one person who will be required to review and approve content before it goes out the door. This person does not have to be a C-Suite executive, it can be someone at a director level or even a manager level, they just need to be able make those decisions about the communications that get published on behalf of the company.

Standing meetings to ensure content development is a priority:

Have a regular meeting scheduled each week or each month depending on how frequently you are updating and creating new content. Both the approval person and the content marketing manager should be at the meeting. This standing meeting will serve to approve any future topics for the editorial calendar and approve the written content. During this meeting you can also change any existing plans of content topics based on current events within your market.
Second, if your organization is large enough, you may want to consider including the subject matter expert in this meeting. This expert will likely have insight about the actual creation of the content and the substance within the article.
Many smaller companies under 2 million dollars in revenue find that their executive plays multiple roles – including the subject matter expert and the final sign off.

Finding a content marketing firm: the difference between a marketplace and a managed service

People often throw around the buzz words “managed service” and “marketplace”. But what are the key traits that define both options? And what do they mean?
As you evaluate and optimize your marketing stack – or the marketing platforms used for different aspects of your marketing programs, considerations should be made around the type of investment and partnership you need. Content marketing as an industry has grown exponentially and there are different types of vendors and partnerships available.

Content Marketing Marketplaces – quick on boarding with a lot of work up front

Pros of working with a market place:
  • Easy to get started: Marketplaces make it easy to get started, offer ultimate flexibility with pricing, but require you to do most of the work. What do I mean by this?
  • Low commitment: With a marketplace, you can easily order one blog at a time or start with one project rather than making any long term commitment.
Cons of working with a market place:
  • You need to find and vet the writers yourself: Think about how long it takes to find a new employee and go through the interview process. Even after all the interviewing, that employee might not be able to deliver. Recruiting and sorting through writer resumes is more time consuming than most people realize and you might end up falling for common freelance writer traps. These freelance writer traps include ghosting, plagiarism, and poor turnaround time.
  • Additional services won’t be included. For example, any editing, SEO optimization account management, support, and more will be an additional fee. You also won’t be able to have consistency with your voice or your writing team. Expertise can be questionable as many times writers do not go through a stringent vetting process.
  • Can’t access the best writers: The best writers are in high demand and prefer to work with long standing partners than hunt for one assignment at a time. If you are only committing to one article, you’ll only have the chance to work with writers who are willing to succumb to learning a brand new company’s voice and style preferences.
  • No guarantee on the writing quality: There is typically a limit on the amount of revisions that you can order and if you are disappointed in the writing, it is typically money down the drain.

Content Marketing Managed Services – better quality, more time saved and a longer partnership commitment

Pros of working with a managed service:
  • All inclusive service: In regards to content marketing specifically, our managed content marketing service includes SEO optimization, unlimited revisions, editing, plagiarism screening, use of the platform, and an account manager who is available by phone and email. You aren’t charged for each individual aspect, which actually saves you more money than if you were to work with a market place who structures their pricing based on each element of the content development process.
  • Humans are there to support you every step of the way. Your account managers proactively manage your account.
  • Consistent team of writers who have real world experience: Your writing team is consistent and includes writers who have real world experience in your industry. The idea with a managed service is that you will save more time and the quality is much higher.
  • Set a schedule designed for long term content marketing results: We set up your partnership at the beginning so that you don’t have to do the heavy lifting. Once we lock in your nuances, it is easy to scale content marketing without sacrificing quality.
  • Commitment to quality: We stand by the content we provide by offering unlimited revisions, editing every piece of content to save you time in the long run, and making sure that the writing is geared towards your reader.
Cons of working with a managed service:
  • Both parties need skin in the game to get started: Because of the initial investment up front to establish a positive long term partnership, both parties need to invest in the partnership. From the client perspective, that means that they pay for the initial start up and commit to a kick off call and review of the content. From the content writing service, this means that they put in the resources to truly optimize and lock in the goals up front.
  • First piece of content can take approximately 2 weeks for delivery: The initial onboarding includes a kick off call, writer team optimization and editorial calendar development. After the kick off call it is typically around 2 weeks until you get your hands on the first article. It is a little slower than a market place, however, in the long run, you save all the time it would take to go from vendor to vendor, restarting the process over and over again. With Tempesta Media, your onboarding has a valuable impact on the long term nature of the partnership.

Find a blog writing service that works for your needs

There are many different considerations that come into play, but ultimately, each business has goals they are trying to achieve. If you are extremely limited on budget and are willing to sacrifice quality, a market place might be a good option. If you are ready to truly invest in your content marketing program, learn more about Tempesta Media’s managed service content solution.

Creating a simple, holistic content strategy

Tasked to create a content marketing program and not sure where to start? These questions are a great starting place for developing your strategy. Answer these questions and you will be well on your way to a content marketing program that justifies some serious ROI.

Why do I need to create a content strategy?

Creating content involves a lot more than just writing something and sending it out. You have to think about what your company’s mission is, what your business goals are, who your audience is, and what exactly specific types or pieces of content need to achieve. You also have to do all of that within some sort of sequence in which you decide what you want to convey, how to structure it in the right words or visual form, what tools and resources are needed to get the job done, and how to ensure that everything does what it is supposed to do and how it is supposed to do it. If you create content without a strategy in place, you are more than likely to miss the objective you are trying to hit, or deliver the message you are trying to convey, rendering your content creation initiatives a failure.
Best practices for developing a successful content marketing strategy

What is the goal/core message of this content?

The goal should answer the question, “What are you trying to accomplish with the content that you create?” For example, are you using the content to drive new leads, or to move people through the marketing funnel? The core message contains the key concepts and messages about your company that should be present within the content that you create.

Who is the audience of this content?

Is your content targeted at middle managers? Senior execs? External suppliers? Internal employees? The sales team? Perhaps you are targeting casual customers, or maybe even your most steadfast repeat customers. Depending on your target audience, you need to tailor your content’s tone and level of technicality to those specific target groups and carefully choose the platforms on which you distribute and disseminate your material.

What tone should my content take?

Your content can take on a number of different tones. For example, content that is targeted at senior execs or decision-makers would take on a formal and professional tone, and content targeted at a younger demographic might take on a more persuasive, informal, or even a colorful or humorous tone. Your tone should reflect your brand and play well with your target audience. For example, Wendy’s is known to use a very playful tone with all its branding, but Microsoft, which has a very large professional user base, often uses a more subtle and formal tone in its marketing and external communications. This contrasts with Apple and Google that often create content which can be called creative, sometimes quirky, and always ingenious – reflective of the images that both companies strive to maintain.
Find a consistent voice for your company’s content

What themes should the new content focus on?

The best way to pick a theme for your content is to focus on any one of the following: what your key competencies are (this content will reiterate your commitment to that competency, such as quality for Toyota), what market trends and insights you’ve discovered (this content will position you as an industry thought leader, such as IBM catering to the automated AI bot market), problems that plague your specific industry (this content will position you as a creative problem solver, such as any Apple product, or more recently, Microsoft Surface products) or growing and expanding your business (this content will highlight the value, happy customer base, and product/service benefits that you offer, something GE has done for a long time).

What categories should the content fall into?

Content can be broadly categorized into educational or persuasive content. Different people are at different places along the product buying cycle, so to teach those at the top of the funnel who don’t know about your product you need educational material. Keep in mind, however, that educational material should include less direct selling about your company because too much of it can turn people off. However, for people further along the buying cycle (people who may know about your product but need to be convinced to make a purchase), you can use more persuasive and sales-oriented marketing content to close the deal, and that is the ultimate job of content, to begin with.

What is the state of your existing content?

Assessing the state of existing content is made up of several separate yet related steps. First, you need to gauge how well current content is performing in the channels you are distributing it (which is discussed at the end of this article). Next, evaluate existing content against what your competitors are offering and general industry trends to ensure you are not creating outdated or irrelevant content. If the first two steps look fine, you need to apply best practices (explained below) to your content.
Finally, wherever possible, you need to optimize and automate the content creation process and workflow (also explained below) to ensure that your content is not only refined, polished, published and promoted in the right way but that you are also creating the right amount of content for all of the channels you maintain a presence on.

What are the immediate gaps in our existing content?

To answer this, you need to ask yourself if you are creating content around all your company’s core competencies versus just a few, and whether or not known customer pain points are being addressed within the sources you currently have at your disposal. One way to do this is to pinpoint the channels that your target customers most frequently use (or that they can most easily be found on), and see what kinds of content, customer interactions and visibility you already have on those platforms. Compare what you find against what people are saying, and tailor future content around trending topics and any insights you may uncover.

What are our competitors writing about?

This is easy to look up, but it is crucial to not missing the bigger picture. Your competitors may have found a lucrative niche, a message or approach that resonates better with customers that you could learn from. Notice any trends in the content, for example, are they writing about one vertical more than others? Are they offering specific types of content formats that may be more appealing to their audience? All of this helps determine what to write about and how to convey the message appropriately.

Do we need a style guide, voice guide, or brand guideline?

Absolutely. Even if you don’t have one today, it can be developed slowly over time. Tempesta Media’s Voice Profile technology ensures that the writing style and voice of content created for you matches your company’s brand, and you can use our services to build out your branding and develop internal guidelines for all future content. The Voice Profile also captures who your target audience is, how formal the writing should be, and all the other nuances our writers need to be aware of in order to create high-quality content for you. This is in addition to editing services, SEO, unlimited revisions, and more.

Who will be creating the content?

Content creation has become such an integral part of business success that there is an entire industry dedicated to it. To create content, you can hire freelancing content creators, in-house copywriters, or partner with a professional content creation company. You can even write content yourself, but in most cases, it pays for business leaders to focus on running their business and either outsourcing content creation to a third party or hiring a team of in-house writers – but do this only if budgets allow and content requirements can justify and support such a dedicated function.

What timeline should I expect?

Creating content takes both time and money and, depending on the speed at which your industry rotates, you may need more or less content. On average, simply to stay relevant, you should publish at least one piece of relevant, insightful or educational content every week, so you’re looking at a turnaround time of one week per piece of content, but if you are aggressively trying to grow your customer base, you may need more regular posts and sales content going out, as much as two or three times a week. Be careful, though; many people underestimate the time it takes to write just one quality post. It takes at least 2-3 hours of writing time to compose a 500-word blog, and this is excluding the time it takes to brainstorm topics, time spent editing and revising the content, and of course, adding any graphics and ultimately publishing it.

What types of content should be created?

You can write basic blog posts, have a mini e-book on a topic of your choice, create a podcast, send out a press release if you have had an interesting idea or a relevant event that you could talk to your audience about. If you work in a technical industry, you could even have a white paper written to break down a proposed solution or product, and send it out to the public for feedback, critiques and general opinions.

Who will be responsible for content governance?

Content delivery channels are important gateways and interface points between companies, their customers and the general public, so it is important to manage what content is publicly published, who has access and permission to do so, and that all published content matches your brand guidelines. Small companies can have a reliable senior team member handle this important function, but larger enterprises should have a dedicated hire who oversees content governance and publishing.

Will there be a content development workflow (from person to person, division to division)?

Most issues with content creation arise because of a lack of clarity about what needs to be done, by whom, how, and by when. When you consider this alongside the fact that it is worth optimizing and automating anything that you do on a regular basis (from sales email funnels to content generation and customer outreach), you should definitely outline a flexible process in which content generation is first ideated/brainstormed, passed through screens and filters for feedback and improvement, and then passed forward for actual composition, editing, review, approval and publishing.

Where can the content be distributed?

You can distribute your content on your company website, on a social blogging site such as Medium, as an answer to a question in a relevant thread on curated information sites such as Quora or Reddit, and as insight or guest pieces on LinkedIn or other publications that are well-known and respected in your industry. Once you have a piece of content ready, it can also be easily shared on social channels in the form of, say, a Facebook post or a tweet to the blog link, and you can even use email marketing strategies and pay for publication in premium news outlets (think of TechCrunch, HuffPost or Wired as premium outlets for the tech industry) to get the word out.

How will content be promoted?

Two of the most popular ways to promote online content are on social platforms (this content would take the form of, say, Facebook posts that can be promoted on the platform itself using paid promotion or social sharing by a dedicated social media manager handling content promotion), and bidding on Google search terms (using AdWords). You can use one or both of these channels and promote your content on the channel that gives you the highest traction at the lowest cost.
How to allocate your content marketing budget between creation and promotion

How will success be measured?

A lot of content is created to increase brand exposure and customer awareness, so if you define success in these terms, then social platforms allow for fairly easy collection of basic stats on shares, likes, mentions, audience reach and overall views. However, since those things don’t always translate directly into sales or an improved bottom line, you might want to measure success against more technical data such as actual sales (and where they came from), customer engagement levels, and turnaround times for things such as delivery or customer support responses.

How to create content around current events?

Creating content around current events is actually a challenge that a lot of businesses face.
The bigger the business is, the more difficult this can be. The reason why businesses have a difficult time creating content around current events is that a lot of them have to go through an entire compliance and approval process internally before even a single piece of content is published to their website. That approval process can take up to several weeks. Under these assumptions, traditional methods of content marketing can feel impossible for a lot of bigger companies.
There is, however, a way to solve this. We’ve had experience with many of our with our larger clients especially in highly regulated industries such as health care, financial services, and insurance.

Creating content ahead of time

There are certain things that happen in the world or within an industry that, while they are unique, they do happen with some sort of regularity. A good example is a financial services client that covers the stock market, trading, etc. It’s guaranteed that at some point in the future, the stock market is going to go up significantly, or it’s going to go down significantly. Companies can proactively write content around those two events in advance.
Continuing with this financial services example, write a commentary like “The market went up X percent today.” This typically leads to things such as improved GDP or other reasons. You can put your point of view and what message you’re trying to convey as a business or financial services entity. Then go and get the content pre-approved in advance so that the moment that when the stock market goes up 3 percent or conversely goes down, you’re ready with content that you can put out, which has already been pre-approved to comply with your internal processes.
Another example is in the insurance space. Within this space, there are unfortunate events that do happen with regularity. Examples are security breaches or cybersecurity breaches. These can also be natural events such as hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, tragic snowfall with blizzards, earthquakes, and volcano eruption. It’s not difficult to write content around those events and communicate your point of view so that when such an event happens, you’ll at least be prepared with a message.
That’s one way a lot of larger corporations are being able to stay on top of the current events that happen while still keeping in place the compliance and regulatory requirements that are associated with their industry.

Creating content using templates

Now if you’re in an industry that doesn’t have all that overhead or you are at a company that can make decisions faster, there are other tactics that you can use. Many clients take advantage of our ability to follow specific keywords or trends associated within their industry. So whenever a large event happens that is associated with an industry brand leader, we can quickly summarize the event or create an article about what happened. We can also provide a standardized point of view based on a Voice Profile.
The summary of the article is something that’s very easy to get approved internally. If your company already has worked with us to develop talking points that you want to be conveyed, then it is easy to turn an article around in a couple days. Within that event happening, you can be one of the first companies to talk to it.
This concept of what I’m discussing is called a news commentary, and it is a readily available content option within all customers interfaces. Customers can easily order such content on a timely basis, by selecting the News Commentary option.
News commentaries can utilize template sharing because once a format is locked in, they are easy to develop. For example, a news commentary format typically includes an overview of what the major event was, what the impact was, and then provide a direct link to whatever the major news source was that covered the event. From there, the key talking points and additional insights are linked together in a homogeneous fashion by the customer’s writing team.

Why Tempesta Media is the answer to your content marketing headaches

Content marketing is an effective way for businesses to establish credibility, build trust and drive visitors to their websites. Tempesta Media has developed content marketing solutions for every type of business. Whether a company is implementing a content strategy for this first time or is looking to optimize their content marketing program, a partnership with Tempesta Media provides companies with high quality content in order to scale easily.

Tempesta Media – an all-inclusive content marketing company

  • Writers with real-world experience and expertise – Tempesta Media writers have worked in the industries that they write about, and are qualified to provide credible content.
  • Unlimited revisions – There are no limits to the number of revisions clients can demand to meet their content needs.
  • Editing – Every single article is edited by Tempesta Media’s professional in-house editing team to ensure that the content matches the client’s voice, fulfills assignment guidelines, and is well-written.
  • Voice Profile – The “voice” of a business refers to the communication style of its content. Tempesta Media writers will match a company’s voice to maintain brand consistency. Writers adhere to such guidelines in order to fulfill content goals.
  • Personal account manager – An account manager is assigned to each client to ensure a constant exchange of information. The account manager is like your content marketing quarterback, optimizing your voice and writing team.
  • Plagiarism screening – Content is screened to ensure that it is not duplicated or unoriginal. This saves your company from a potential lawsuit.
  • SEO meta descriptions and keywords – Writers are trained to include meta descriptions and keywords that are relevant to the content. All content is optimized for SEO.
  • Unlimited use of platform – Clients can use Tempesta Media’s proprietary content marketing platform and its technology for free. The platform is intuitive and easy to use. Finally, an all-inclusive content solution that can help you scale high-quality content.

Why other content marketing companies fall short when it comes to providing the quality you need

The problem with most content marketing companies is that they hardly ever deliver what they promised. Some of the typical reasons why people have bad experiences with other content marketing companies:

  • Writers of varying quality – The writing quality varies from good to poor. The reason is that many companies hire freelance writers without vetting their qualifications. This often means that clients must request more revisions, and are lucky if those revisions are up to standard.
  • Writers lack industry expertise – Many content writing companies hire one-size-fits-all writers who have no experience with specific industries. In this example, a legal expert could writing content for a medical device company. If your company is in a niche industry, it will be nearly impossible to get content that truly engages your specialized target audience.
  • No voice profiles – Without understanding a client’s voice, it is impossible to create appropriate content for a target audience.
  • Additional costs for editing and customer support – Many of these companies charge extra for revisions to content and editing, and require premier memberships for customer support. Think of this as the Spirit airlines of content marketing – you think you’ve secured a deal until you realize all the hidden costs that come into play.
  • Not based in the U.S. – Some content writing companies are based overseas, which means English is not their first language. This will cause many communication problems and also affects content quality.

Unlike Tempesta Media, other content providers lack an easy-to-use technology platform and don’t provide clients with a personalized account manager who assures quality control, customer service satisfaction and consistent content delivery.

The problem with hiring freelance content writers

Opting for a content writing solution that includes a heavy reliance on freelancers is a losing proposition because many freelance writers are:

  • Unreliable – What happens when a freelance writer decides not to deliver an article? Or becomes unresponsive?
  • Poor time managers – Clients will spend a lot of time managing freelance writers to ensure they deliver content that adheres to an editorial calendar. It is nearly impossible to receive a guaranteed turnaround from freelance writers as they typically juggle many other clients and priorities.
  • Lacking in editing skills – Freelance writers often lack the editing skills necessary to make revisions to content. Freelance writers don’t come with a full-service editing department to review content, which means that you could be responsible for the editing – a task that can be time-consuming.
  • More likely to plagiarize – Writers who are not vetted often “borrow” content ideas and phrases from professionals, which leave clients vulnerable to plagiarism accusations, and a loss of credibility in their industry. In fact, a study found that plagiarized content on the internet increased from 25 percent in 2009 to 44 percent in 2011.

The importance of a content strategy for the future

Content marketing is here to stay, which means the best providers in the industry also help their clients develop a content strategy for the future.
Tempesta Media provides clients with a content strategy that includes:

  • Creating a target audience – Who will consume the content and why?
  • Determining best formats – Which type of content most effectively communicates a client’s culture and vision? Is it short blog pieces, long-form articles, white papers, e-guides or video tutorials?
  • Determining publishing channels – What social media platforms are most appropriate for the content? For example, image-driven content like short-form videos and photos are ideal for Instagram, which has more than 800 million monthly active users and 8 million Instagram Business profiles. More telling, 25 percent of Instagram ads are single videos, and engagement levels are the highest for videos that are 30 seconds or shorter. The Tempesta content team understands how to create the appropriate content for social media platforms based on the marketing needs of each client.
  • Content management plan – What is the content publishing schedule, and how will businesses analyze return on investment?

The importance of making a wise choice

Content marketing is a key driver of business success. It is important to choose a content marketing company that uses professional writers who deliver outstanding content on time, and will not consider a job completed until it meets a client’s needs.

3 questions to ask when evaluating content effectiveness

There can be artistic aspects to creating online content, but it is most effective when it is based on a scientific approach. Content marketing, after all, is about creating and sharing valuable, high-quality content to boost brand visibility while simultaneously generating interest in a business’s products and/or services.
It is well established that content is king and that high-quality content – or 10x content – is what it takes to succeed at content marketing. The problem is that the definition of quality content varies widely within the industry.

What does great content look like?

If one were to ask different people what “great content” looks like, the question will likely generate different answers. Quality, after all, is subjective.
But great content is not just something created by feel or intuition. This is where the science of content creation comes in. It concerns itself with the research and production of different content types and formats designed for a specific audience.
This means that there is an actual methodology that content marketers can follow to determine whether their content meets the standard of “good.” And it all begins by asking the questions listed below.

Is the content targeted?

For any content asset to be successful, it has to be a reflection of the overall campaign’s understanding of its audience, and where specific segments of the audience place in their respective “buyer journey.” This means that a successful content marketing campaign must have different types of content that:

  • Raises awareness
  • Promotes brand discovery
  • Builds thought leadership
  • Nurtures leads into sales

A tried and proven way to understand a campaign’s potential audience is to construct detailed profiles of those buyers called buyer personas–essentially semi-fictional representations of a brand’s ideal customer. They include their pain points, motivations and where they are on the buyer journey. The more detailed the buyer personas, the easier it is to craft content that speaks to their needs, resulting in targeted content.

Is the content credible?

In any niche or industry, there will always be a few people whose ideas and insights command influence and respect. What is it that makes them worth following and listening to? How can marketers create content that has the same effect on their brand?
The good news is that creating content offers a natural way to earn credibility. But it is not enough to just churn out article after article, which will only join the other 2 million “me too” blogs that are published every day.
A proven way to make any content asset more credible is to cite a study, chart, graph, case study or survey, and writing explanations about these findings. Doing this allows the credibility of those references to amplify the importance of the content asset.
If a brand does this repeatedly, each content asset it publishes will eventually gain a steady following of people looking for the next piece to fill them in on a valuable insight or tactic they can apply to their own situation.

Is the content valuable?

Content becomes valuable when it lines up with what its audience needs, instead of being simply the product of a wild guess. Valuable content combines different points that result in a piece that’s interesting, informative, and engaging all at the same time.
And more often than not, a valuable content asset does this by answering questions in the minds of its target audience. For example, someone looking for credible and relevant information on stress will probably have questions like:

  • How do I manage my stress?
  • Why do I feel stressed all the time?
  • Is it normal to feel stressed?
  • What are examples of stress management techniques?

The more questions a content can answer, the more valuable it becomes in the eyes of the audience. But these answers also have to be credible and based on fact. Anything else is vacuous filler.

Final thoughts

Although there are several other questions that can help determine content quality, these three tips serve as a reliable baseline for measuring the effectiveness of content assets. If anything, the key takeaway from this guide is to consistently produce content that addresses the needs and concerns of a well-defined target audience, which should eventually turn them into loyal customers.

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