Agile Content Marketing: Building a Thought Leadership Machine

Raise your hand if your thought leadership strategy is still bootstrapped?

You’re creating content, but throwing spaghetti at the wall. Leadership sign-offs are worse than the DMV wait. And if you have the joy of compliance review, you are contemplating if living in a van down by the river would have been a better life choice.

All jokes aside, there comes a point in content marketing when the training wheels need to come off.

You have had some time to test and learn. And you are at the point where you have a frame of reference what is and isn’t working. To accelerate results, you want to narrow on your successes and multiply its frequency.

This requires an expansion of resources and streamlining your process. Increasing mass and speed, simultaneously, is a tall order –a lean and agile transformation.

Clocking your Customer:

First, you need to benchmark frequency –a foundational target for your publishing cycle to establish how often your audience expects or wants new content. This will give the time span of production speed.

If that isn’t distinguishable, the rate in which your audience moves through their decision process is an alternative. This is particular effective in nurturing efforts with lead scoring, establishing successive touchpoints to influence and qualify.

Building the Machine

Whichever benchmark you choose, this enables you to reverse-engineer a production schedule. In my experience, this will require an institution of new processes. Given how organizations can operate differently, I’m going provide high-level perspective with three main phases (in reverse):

Execution: Before you create any content, defining a measurement plan and channel placement is imperative. Goals determine channels, channels determine tactics. Execution can be overlooked, leaving you to rely solely on organic traffic or pleading for resources. The promotional scope (emails, social posts, media buys, etc…) and content curation define the true resource requirements for a thought leadership campaign.

Resources: The rub is meeting your organization’s standard planning practice (whether that is quarterly, biannually, or annually) but still have the flexibility to be timely and relevant. It’s moving from ad-hoc requests to building a repeatable process, establishing a cycle. The misconception of being “agile,” is flying by the seat of your pants. That’s hardly the case.

To meet an organization’s planning process, build a lean, detailed schedule that enables you to forecast resources. While you may not know the topic, you will know you when you need a writer, designer, emails, etc… This is no longer a game of Hot Potato.

Ideation: Topic assessment is frequently overlooked and done in a vacuum (whether from subject matter experts or marketing), leaving parties feeling underutilized. Establishing an editorial committee with all-inclusive, cross-functional representation provides mutual consensus. This will afford a 360-degree perspective, stronger partnerships, and alleviate downstream hurdles.

Scaling to efficiently and consistently build effective content requires a balance of structure. An agile thought leadership machine ensures the process is equally as important as your plan –clearly established roles and timetables yet, not over-engineering the process.

Turning up the heat and tossing grenades over cubes is not recommended. Yet, thought leadership is the song the never ends. The process, content, or communications don’t need to be perfect. As long as you have a solid process and a learning plan, you can continuously tweak ­­–stick and move.

If you have any specific questions or hurdles, feel free to send me an email:

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