Content does many things. It builds your company’s authority and credibility. It raises brand awareness. It helps with SEO and engagement. It builds relationships, provides value, and is used as a marketing and sales tool.
The problem is content’s value is often hard to quantify, so it takes a low priority in many companies. As a result, consistent content—quality content posted at a regular cadence–is one of the biggest marketing challenges for most companies.
It doesn’t help that the very idea of content makes many people anxious. In other words, they have “content anxiety.” That can throw up a lot of barriers to content consistency.
What are the symptoms of content anxiety? Luckily, it’s less frightening than anything you can find on WebMD, but it’s still pretty potent.
Here are some signs you or one of your colleagues might be suffering from content anxiety:
Fear of finality - Slow approvals often stem from two things: a lack of understanding of the importance content plays in the sales process and/or a need to have “perfect” content before approving. Often, the two play into each other and slow down approvals.
Trouble generating editorial topics - If your client or your contact isn’t generating lots of ideas for content, it’s probably not for a lack of inspiration. After all, they’re in the metaphorical trenches every day. They know what concerns and excites their current and potential customers. It’s likely that your client isn’t quite sure how to refine those ideas into an “official” topic. They need some help making that jump.
Fear of having (or expressing) a point of view - In a world where people are willing to brawl on social media over the color of a dress, it’s easy to feel that, as a company, you need to play it safe in order to avoid controversy. However, if you’re good at what you do, you have opinions. These opinions are what will set your content apart from your competitors.
If you or someone you work with has content anxiety, here are our recommendations.
1. Document a content strategy - This may seem obvious, but it’s important. Document your audience, your voice, your purpose, your goals, and more. This is your guidebook; you can reference with your colleagues if your content isn’t hitting the mark. Together, you can determine whether the content isn’t meeting the guidelines or if the guidelines need to be adjusted.
2. “Sell” the value of content - If approvals are constantly late or ideas aren’t flowing, it’s time to review the purpose and value content provides. Many people think of content as a “blog piece” or “social media video” when all those pieces are cumulatively building your brand and serving as tools for sales and marketing. Once people understand that a blog, which seems so trivial in the scheme of things, is often one of the “touches” that contribute to a sale, they’re more willing to move things along at a reasonable pace. Having metrics in place that show content contribution is also a big help!
3. Maintain an editorial calendar - There are always going to be topical pieces that crop up, but you want to have a steady editorial calendar that you can adjust as needed. An important part of this is keeping evergreen topics in the “parking lot” so you’re never scrambling to come up with ideas under pressure. If you have a gap for some reason, it’s time to slide something out of the parking lot and update the calendar. Plus, you have a schedule you can point to when approvals go off-track.
4. Keep a list of go-to resources - Ask your clients and contacts what industry blogs, journals, podcasts, etc, they like. Who are the experts they respect and follow? When you’re trying to keep ideas flowing, a resource list is one of the best ways to kickstart new topics. You can also schedule quarterly check-ins with salespeople, account reps, or other contacts on the front lines to ask them what’s keeping their customers up at night—because your take on those issues will help keep your content timely and consistent.
5. Build “regular” content with premium content as the end goal - It’s sometimes hard to create premium content without disrupting your timeliness elsewhere. After all, a long viewpoint doc or pillar page takes a while to research and write. In an ideal world, non-premium content like blogs or short videos will build a skeleton for a longer, more in-depth piece of content. That means you can provide a valuable premium piece, but not derail your schedule. (Plus, backlinks help your SEO.)
6. Consider your distribution plan - If you build content consistently, but no one reads or sees it, it doesn’t pay off. SEO is great, but it’s just part of a plan. If you’re creating content on a regular basis, be sure you push it out via email, social, paid, and any other methods that make sense. Above all, make sure that content is incorporated into sales plays and train salespeople to use content to begin and continue prospect conversations.
7. Understand content is now a digital medium - Sure, print pieces exist, but they’re few and far between. The vast majority of content is digital, and that means your content isn’t permanent and fixed. In other words, if you see a mistake, you can adjust it in minutes. If your viewpoint changes in six months, you can update a paragraph (or more). Be sure that the people who want to labor over content until it’s perfect realize that, barring any huge mistakes, consistency is even more important than perfection. If someone is getting bogged down in purely stylistic issues, such as minor word choice, it’s time for some tough love. It’s more important to get the piece out in a timely fashion than it is to hold it up for something that’s correct, but not perfect.
There’s no question that content anxiety is one of the toughest battles to fight. After all, the longer content sits, the bigger its impact feels. When you have constant content flowing, there’s less pressure for one blog or video to be that magic bullet that breaks new ground and makes all potential customers realize that your company alone holds the key. When execs see one piece of content as part of a cohesive whole and see the metrics for content contribution, they realize consistent content has a cumulative effect.