How many times have you finished a planning or strategy meeting and were amped up to start creating your content for the year ahead? But on the other hand, how many times have you found yourself sidetracked with numerous other to-dos, leaving you behind on your deadlines and, ultimately, your launch dates?
It’s normal to have high hopes for your content creation processes, and it’s definitely normal to fall behind or go off course along the way. After all, things happen. You have to juggle product launches, events and other pressing deadlines that throw wrenches in your seemingly well-oiled content marketing machine. When it becomes a pattern, though, it’s time to take a step back and assess (or reassess) what keeps going wrong and why.
Based on our experience creating our own content, and managing the creative timelines and launch calendars for our clients, we find that there are five common reasons why content doesn’t launch on time. If any (or all) of these issues strike a chord with you, don’t panic! There are some tips and best practices to help you get back on track:
Reason 1: You Don’t Have Messaging In Place
The foundation of powerful content is ensuring you’re keeping your target buyers’ wants, needs and pain points in mind. Buyer-focused messaging is your key to keeping your audience’s perspectives front and center. In fact, it’s the connecting point between buyer personas or profiles and your content creation.
On the surface, the messaging development process can seem like a tall order. You need to mine buyer insights, look for patterns and write first-person statements that take your buyer’s point of view. But the more you go through this process, the faster you’ll be able to create your messaging based on your specific campaign goals. Furthermore, when you create your messaging for a specific campaign, you have a foundation for the main storyline of your content. As a result, when you start the ideation process, you’ll have core topics to build from. Ultimately, this streamlines the early stages of the content development process so you can focus more time and attention on getting the actual content written and designed.
Reason 2: You’re Not Ideating Correctly
Ideation is the process of fleshing out your messaging points and turning them into specific content topics for your campaign. And suffice to say, creating an effective ideation is equal parts art and science — mainly because you need to establish some of the visual elements (especially if you’re creating something like an infographic), but also need to ensure all the pivotal points of your messaging are represented. If you don’t hit on all the core details in your initial ideation, you risk having your writer miss the mark when the time comes to actually build the out the content.
When you have a more detailed and comprehensive ideation, you also give your design team the details they need to start brainstorming the visual themes and elements for the content. It may seem like a lot of upfront work, but when you add more detail and put more thought into your ideation, you can give your activation teams all of the details they need to get a head start, which will ultimately help you move up your launch date.
Reason 3: You Don’t Have An Activation Plan
The content activation process requires careful coordination among different teams. Depending on the size of your organization, you may have to run content ideas by internal stakeholders and execs from sales, product marketing or field marketing. In addition, you need to coordinate the internal review process and bring in design, interactive and marketing operations teams. Finally, when content is ready to launch, you need to loop in your site, social, PR and analyst relations teams.
Each team adds a layer to your activation process — each presenting possible obstacles or delays to your launch date. To facilitate your activation plan, make sure you iron out all the details before the process starts; identify who is in charge of what, and make sure they know a project is coming down the pike and what their deadlines are. A detailed editorial calendar can help with this process. That way, if there is a possible issue with the timing, you can address it and make adjustments to your activation calendar before the process starts. (If you’re looking for some more tips to streamline the activation process, you can download our handbook, which is chock-full of best practices.)
Reason 4: You’re Not Preparing For Missed Deadlines
When designing your content activation plan, you always need to align your calendar (and deadlines) with your goal. Are you building a campaign around a timely event or a product launch? Or do you have a bit more flexibility?
Once you have you final launch date in writing, continue to build out your timeline by including all internal deadlines, project hand-offs and any other time you may need for brainstorming, content creation and design. But that’s not enough: Always be flexible and build in time for missed deadlines. There are always going to be hiccups in the content activation process — people are out on vacation, at a conference or just aren’t responding to your emails. You need to put in buffer time to ensure you don’t miss the big deadline but can still be flexible for specific tasks and to-do’s.
At the end of the day, there’s a big difference between being aggressive with your content creation and being completely unrealistic. When you include some buffer time, you can always readjust your timelines when you need some flexibility.
Reason 5: You’re Not Using What You Have
Let’s face it: Sometimes we have new, urgent marketing goals crop up, and we simply don’t have the time or manpower to create new content from scratch. Or, we get so sidetracked with our long-term marketing goals that we end up scrambling to create last-minute assets.
Just thinking about the pressure makes me break out in a cold sweat. But you don’t have to go through this marketing distress if you simply use what you have. It takes less time and effort to reuse and update existing content than it takes to create new pieces from scratch.
Repurposing, reusing and reversioning foundational assets for different roles or industries is especially valuable if you need to run content through legal departments or any higher-ups in the organization. If the core content is the same and there are only subtle changes to reflect those different industries and audiences, it will take less time to get final approval and get your content out to the masses!
It may sometimes feel difficult to create and stick to a content creation plan. But when you want to create captivating content that informs and empowers your buyers, it’s important to execute as flawlessly as you can. By taking the appropriate measures, and keeping these missteps in mind, you’ll be able to create great content and get it launched on time.