“Scissors” by Timo Kuusela is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Marketing departments are under increasing pressure to produce more content for at lower cost. PHOTO: Timo Kuusela

Content creation has long been heralded as the Holy Grail of consistent customer experience — the foundation of customer attribution, loyalty and retention resulting in faster sales and growth.

But now marketers are under intense pressure to deliver content to an ever- increasing array of channels and devices — often in multiple languages. As content needs climb, so do pressures on the marketing team to produce the right content, in the right place, in a timely manner.

The Marketing Content Conundrum

More than 70 percent of B2B companies will be allocating a higher proportion of their marketing budgets this year for content creation, according to estimates from the Content Marketing Institute. At the same time, marketing team headcounts will remain stagnant or potentially fall.

For many companies, the content creation process is complex, with many projects that need to be fully monitored across a range of departments, offices and partners.

A study by Gleanster Research on behalf of Kapost concluded inefficient content production results in an estimated $958 million each year in excessive spend for mid-to-large B2B US companies.

Percolate found non-working spend — the cost of producing marketing content, as opposed to media spend distributing it — takes up more than 40 percent of the average advertising budget. Inefficiencies in the marketing process, including missed deadlines, delayed approvals, errors, searching for lost content and non-reuse of existing content all contribute to crippling time, effort and ultimately costs in driving marketing ROI.

So how can marketing teams work smarter and more efficiently? As marketing budgets get tighter and productivity becomes critical to fill the expanding channel requirements, it's more important than ever to look at the internal creative processes for marketing production.

By leveraging the right technology with a focus on the internal marketing processes, creative content can be generated better, faster and more productively with significant cost savings.

Steps to Improved Content Creation

Here are strategies top performing marketing teams use to reduce content production inefficiencies.

1. Recognize You Have Problems or Could Do Better

With the pressure to go to market faster, getting packaging, promotional, digital and other branded materials to market quickly can feel overwhelming. Too often, what should be a relatively straightforward process becomes bogged down in a complex and time-consuming web of competing agendas, obsolete policies and siloed communications.

Many manual and legacy processes, such as the use of file shares, emails, spreadsheets and lack of synchronization of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems add to inefficiencies. For instance, data on the ERP system could lag real-time product and price information.

2. Get the Right Fit Technology

One-size-fits-all technology often forces users to change their own smooth running processes. So investigate flexible technology that fits with your own processes and systems. It could be quicker to build, implement and enjoy greater user adoption.

Remember, as organizations grow, additional layers of approvers and stakeholders become involved in the supply chain, accountability becomes decentralized and ambiguous, and workflows do not evolve quickly enough to accommodate the larger scale of work required. Technologies need to be adaptable and scalable, allowing you to add modules as you grow.

According to Walker Sands State of Marketing Technology 2017, 42 percent of marketers admit their technology is “fragmented” or “piecemeal.” Seven percent have no technology in place at all. Only 3 percent of marketers get full value out of their tools but say better technology strategy (39 percent), analytics (36 percent) and training (33 percent) would help them better leverage their MarTech stacks. By integrating with a technology that sits at the heart of the marketing production process, marketers enable the flow of information to move synchronously, offering real-time updates.

3. Streamline, Automate and Obliterate Processes

Look at your own processes. Assess what works well and what can be improved. Then look for technologies that will help you reach your objectives by streamline and automating repetitive and standard tasks. It can even make many processes redundant, thereby obliterating their need.

4. Improve Collaboration Between Internal and External Parties

By implementing the right technology, organizations take advantage of increased collaboration between departments, external agencies, partners, offices and territories. This allows for greater agility in marketing while moving out of silos. This means creative content can be quickly created, versioned, amended and approved by marketing and product teams and agencies quickly and efficiently with a full audit trail of who did what, when, where and how.

5. Control Marketing Content Across Channels

Controlling marketing content across all media channels through one coordination point reduces errors. The use of defined templates also enables quick and efficient management of brand equity across the organization. Having a technology that can manage and streamline all marketing activities from planning and budgeting to coordination and execution also reduces the number of steps in the process where errors can be made.

6. Create Real-Time Dashboards

Management of the marketing production process by campaigns through an easy to use dashboard enables quick decision-making and easy proofing of content quality. Look for options that provide easy configuration of projects and tasks to ensure multichannel deliverables can be planned, created, managed, coordinated, proofed and published from one place.

7. Embrace API-Led Connectivity

API-led connectivity is a methodical way to connect data to applications through a series of reusable and purposeful modern application program interfaces (APIs) that are each developed to play a specific role, e.g. unlocking data from systems, composing data into processes or delivering an experience. An API strategy that prioritizes reuse over rebuild, creates an infrastructure which is designed for change, has built-in governance and visibility, and, most importantly, meets the needs of the business which is long-term sustained agility.