Have you built a content factory yet? If so, great work! If not, chances are that you probably should. Content FactoryLet’s face facts though, it’s not exactly easy. I was thinking about that today and was reminded of a conversation I had a couple of months ago with Shel Holtz. We talked about the challenges of developing a content marketing strategy, many of which apply to building a content factory.

I’ve written about the idea of a content factory before (see my previous posts on why every company needs a content factory, assessing if you’re ready to build one, and what it should produce), and wanted to share some of my discussion with Shel with you here. The Q&A that follows is adapted and paraphrased from that conversation.

How do you convince a reluctant company to build its own content factory?

The biggest challenge is creating a connection in executives’ minds between content marketing and the bottom-line results they’re held accountable for producing. Far too often, marketers present their case from a tactical perspective rather than explaining how having a content factory can help them to grow market share, bring new customers in through the top of the marketing funnel, and address the kinds of challenges that are keeping customers awake at night.

The problem is that there’s a willful lack of business literacy on the part of many content marketers. We’re very, very good as crafts people but many of us don’t really have the fundamental business knowledge necessary to make that business case. The more we can help our leaders understand that content marketing can contribute to their bottom-line goals, the easier it’s going to be to build a content factory and get engagement.

What’s your advice for expansion-stage companies that have to make a significant investment to build a content factory?

There are a variety of different approaches you can take. One is to not make a significant investment at first. Do a pilot project where you can show some demonstrable wins that maybe aren’t monumental, but that highlight the path you could be taking to achieve great results. Even if you just start off with a couple thought leadership blogs, for example, where your investment is simply the thought leaders’ time, you can start to show what that’s doing for traffic to your site and engagement with your community.

Try launching a pilot program that focuses on one specific thing (blogging, for example) using some either free or low-cost tools. If you can then demonstrate the benefit that it brings to the organization, you can use that as the launching pad for expanding the program. It’s easy to get started that way. You just have to demonstrate that your content marketing efforts can produce the kinds of results you’re talking about, rather than just talking about the craft or the tactic itself.

What’s the best way to get started?

By identifying what your business goals are. I’m frequently dismayed by the number of people that work in communications who don’t know what the five business goals they’re trying to achieve this year are. Or what this year’s business plan is. As a result, they’re not able to align their communications.

Let’s face it, you can’t align communications, whether they’re social, digital, or traditional, with goals if you don’t know what those goals are. It starts with identifying and understanding the goals that the leaders of your organization are being held accountable to. Then you need to figure out how building a content factory can support those goals. That means identifying the broad approach that you’re going to take building a content factory, setting measurable objectives, and determining which tools are most appropriate.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be continuing to look at what it takes for B2B companies to build their own content factory. If your company has built one or is trying to, share feedback on your experience by posting a comment below.

photo by: jakeandlindsay

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