Anybody who’s ever assembled an IKEA desk knows you can’t get it done without the proper preparation. You’ll need floor space to put it together. And you’ll need to spread out all the parts and tools to make sure you’ve got everything to get it done.
Probably most important of all, you’ll need a few aspirins within arm’s reach for the inevitable headache of proprietary parts inevitably not fitting right.
Content marketing works the same way—minus the headache pills. You can’t execute your strategy without the right preparation. From people to process, organizations that think holistically about their content engines are the ones that have staying power in crowded digital spaces.
That preparation is what we call content governance.
What is content governance?
If content strategy is Batman, content governance is Alfred. Organizing Bruce Wayne’s busy social schedule is hard enough without having to factor in all the alter ego crime-fighting side quests. The butler never gets enough credit.
Content governance is a set of guidelines that does three things:
- It defines expectations. What should the quality be? What makes the content truly on-brand? Content governance establishes guideposts for existing and future content so there’s a rhyme and reason to what’s out there in the universe.
- It defines processes. How does this content get created? What do production stages look like? From ideation to quality assurance—and all the technology in between—digital content governance articulates exactly how the cake gets made.
- It defines roles. Who does what? Who’s responsible for quality control? In content marketing, there are many pieces to the puzzle. From strategists to writers to editors, everyone should know their responsibilities and what makes for efficient handoffs.
For many content marketing teams starting off, processes may not seem so complicated. There might only be a handful of people approving, creating, and publishing content. The underlying technologies might not be convoluted. And the calendar inherently makes sense. But manual processes often sputter and fail as content volume and expectations increase. A good content governance framework prepares organizations for complexity.
Ultimately, it isn’t just about setting up rules for complex content marketing team structure. Organizations that focus on content governance empower people within their teams to create great content. The guidelines, processes, technologies, and expectations—all those things under the hood—drive content marketing teams forward to do their best work.
Even Batman can’t do it all himself.
Clarify your priorities
Organizations extend the shelf life and impact of their content marketing efforts by executing against a strong content strategy. Content governance gives that strategy some much-needed color.
Take, for example, an investment firm wanting to get out in front of market trends to produce a series of executive-led webinars for their audience. On paper, this sounds like a great idea. Their audience would probably be interested in learning about the things the firm’s sniffing out in the market. But there are some questions the firm—and its content marketing arm—must answer. Will we need additional staff? How much time will it take to produce this? Will producing this cut into other strategic objectives?
A content governance framework responds to this content marketing soul-searching, giving the organization a better picture of the resource demand such an initiative would require. Maybe that series of webinars will work—but only if you postpone development of that white paper you’d penciled in for this quarter. Maybe instead of webinars, the better use of executives’ time would be blog posts that highlight their thought leadership.
More important, governance gives content marketing teams a way to prioritize content ideation. Thought leaders from the executive team, market trends, and content creators may all have competing things to say at any given time. That’s normal at any organization, but especially in the financial sector, where the economy’s ebbs and flows—and global pandemics—impact organizational expectations in real time. Governance allows for marketing decision makers to choose where each of those conversations fits in the content calendar.
Size doesn’t matter
Unless we’re talking about fried Oreos at the state fair, size doesn’t really matter. (The bigger the fried confection, the better.)
Content marketing teams run in different sizes and shapes. Global banks have inherent complexity both horizontally and vertically, as their content marketing arms could have smaller pods flanked by regional leadership.
For organizations starting out, it might be a two-person operation from a table inside a local Starbucks. Content governance helps large, small, and in-between organizations. The size doesn’t matter.
For smaller organizations or teams launching their content marketing efforts for the first time, a content governance framework won’t look as intimidating as a global bank’s. The org chart might be flatter, the editorial calendar sparser, and the key performance indicators a little lighter. The key is to plan for what the minimum viable product ought to be. To accomplish our goals, what do we need right now?
Luckily, there are two quick ways to ramp up even the most humble of content marketing engines:
- Use ready-made tools. There are editorial calendar templates, KPI checklists, and sample content style guides online that your organization can use to get a head start on firing up the content engine. Adapt what you need so the solutions fit your unique contexts.
- Call in reinforcements. Fractional content marketing teams are available for organizations that need support on content strategy, ideation, production, or promotion. Or all of the above. Getting the superpowers of an entire content marketing wing never hurts—especially when it costs less up front than doing all the work yourself.
Everybody starts somewhere, whether you’re a big brand or Batman. Use what’s available to line up your content marketing aspirations with a governance framework that’ll get you there.
Here’s how you start
Among organizations that don’t take a strategic approach to managing their content, 56% say it’s because leadership hasn’t made it an explicit priority. Another 49% say it’s because the processes don’t exist now that could support a fleshed-out content strategy.
Be among the organizations that get it right. Thinking about content governance sets up the runway for quality and velocity—important terms any content marketer would typically lose sleep over.
Sometimes organizations need support building the framework that’s right for them. That’s where we come in. At T3, we help brands make sense of content marketing by fine-tuning their content governance and all the processes, technologies, roles, and metrics that come with it.