Speak Out, Don’t Go Silent

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TME-MHammondWe all know that volume has decreased much more then expected. While you may be struggling or planning your fiscal future in the wake of emerging trends, now is not the time to pull back. The successful lenders and vendors will remain active in telling their story and advancing the overall mortgage market. The bottom line is that every successful company needs a content marketing strategy to thrive in the current mortgage market.

In the article “10 Steps to Scale Your Content Marketing Strategy” by Taylor Radey, she outlines 10 steps that you can follow to scale your content marketing strategy to fuel more efficient, effective and plentiful content creation. Here’s what she suggests:

1. Create your initial content marketing strategy

If you haven’t already done so, create a documented content marketing strategy that aligns with your organizational goals. Put an end to the need-it-yesterday hunt for content. It’s a bad habit that stifles creativity, causes burnout, and allows low-quality ideas to slip through. A thorough content marketing strategy will help your team:

>> Align content production with business goals and buyer needs;

>> Allocate internal resources more effectively;

>> Achieve greater relevance by mapping content to major events, holidays, and seasonality; and

>> Address gaps in content proactively, whether related to specific keywords, buyer personas, or stages in the sales funnel.

A detailed yet adaptable plan is best, but even a basic content calendar of topics, company milestones, and industry events will help reign-in the chaos that can result from an unstructured content program.

2. Develop a production process

Next, make sure you’ve put the necessary processes in place to manage the flow of content creation, distribution, and measurement. Keep in mind that good process creates guardrails, not roadblocks, allowing your team to run with the content marketing strategy you’ve created. Consider:

>> Who: Writers, editors, publishers — key members of your organization, including relevant stakeholders in other departments, should be aware of who’s in charge of content, and what their specific responsibilities are.

>> What: Blog posts, eBooks, infographics, videos… what types of content is your target audience looking for, and what is your team capable of delivering to them? On an individual level, what buyer persona and buying cycle stage will each content asset address? What is the intended goal or call to action for each piece of content? Make sure you define these parameters in advance.

>> When: Establish publishing frequency, and work backward to create intermediary deadlines for internal editing and review. Build in enough time to avoid sloppy work and regulate a steady pipeline of content.

>> Where: Your team should have shared access to both the content calendar and working drafts. Too much time is wasted hunting down the latest version or trying to remember whether a post was finalized for publishing. Keep the latest status and file name of each content piece in a centralized location for ubiquitous access.

3. Develop writer specialization

Subject matter expertise is essential to efficiently written and technically sound content. Delegate projects that actively develop writers’ knowledge around specific topics, or “beats.” Segment by product/service, vertical, buyer persona, or editorial themes. If your team is small, invest in necessary training and educational resources, or pull in an agency to supplement content creation efforts.

4. Hold regular editorial meetings

Turn your team into a publishing engine through editorial meetings. Bring together the organization’s content producers regularly to:

>> Foster creativity through consistent brainstorming sessions;

>> Uncover unique brand stories waiting to be harvested;

>> Evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, and performance of existing content;

>> Discuss industry news and trends, and take advantage of real-time news-jacking opportunities; and

>> Provide a forum to strategize and prioritize content production.

Each idea brought to the meeting should pass through a conversational filter to discuss the idea’s value, explore alternative angles, select topics for production, prioritize importance, and make sure all topics fit into your larger content marketing strategy.

5. Tap into subject matter experts and user-generated content

You don’t have to go it alone. Bring others into the process of content marketing, including sales, product experts, and even your customers. Make the most of employee-generated content, user-generated content, and customer advocates. Not only can their involvement lessen the burden of content creation, it can also lend greater authenticity to your content, help your team get executive buy-in more easily, and add richer detail to the stories you tell.

6. Reduce, reuse, repurpose

If you’re not repurposing content, you’re doing it wrong. Combine, reuse or rethink content in new and unexpected ways to generate more with less effort. In addition to getting more mileage from each topic, repurposing challenges you to re-create valuable content assets for different buyer personas and verticals — making content highly targeted and relevant.

7. Garner internal support to increase budget

One of the more straightforward approaches to scaling your efforts is to draw in greater budget. To earn buy-in from budgetary gatekeepers, be proactive and prepared in conversations, and regularly share current performance and wins to build trust and bolster support. Added budget can be used to build up internal resources or fund wish list content marketing projects, like a video or infographic.

8. Be selective with content production

When creating new content, make sure your time is spent on projects capable of delivering the greatest value. Throughout each stage of the customer journey, figure out which specific pieces of content will cater best to your personas’ current needs.

Start by mapping existing content to specific personas across the sales cycle, and then prioritize topics that will fill the gaps. Already done this? Evaluate your content’s performance — revamp the least successful assets, and better promote the most successful. Make your content work for you.

9. Befriend data

Building on Step 8, track performance through quantifiable metrics, and leverage this data to allocate resources toward top-performing subjects and formats. Once you’ve defined the objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will serve as benchmarks for content success, you’ll be able to analyze current activities, evaluate performance, define next steps to improve weaknesses and build upon strengths, and calculate ROI. Consider establishing a schedule like the following to ensure that you stay on top of your metrics:

>> Daily: Quickly monitor analytics technology for spikes and anomalies. Investigate as necessary.

>> Monthly, quarterly, and annually: Record KPIs, looking for trends and potential contributors.

>> As needed: Plan for spot-checks into your analytics now and again to evaluate the performance of new content initiatives or particularly innovative content projects.

10. Prepare for the next generation of content marketing

You may be creating content successfully now, but in order for your strategy to scale as your content efforts expand, you should also be prepared to leverage that content to its fullest potential. Create integrated content strategies that combine best practices in blogging, SEO, social media, PR, email marketing, lead nurturing, and marketing automation for maximum impact.

Taking the first step

Reevaluating your content marketing strategy may seem overwhelming. But if your current approach seems unsustainable, it’s a problem you can’t afford to ignore.

Your brand is vying for visitors, subscribers, leads, and sales, and content should be an ever-growing piece of your marketing strategy. But in order to scale to a level where your content can continually adapt to the challenge of breaking through the ever-increasing digital clutter and noise, you’ll need to prepare your team with efficient processes, integrated technology, and an intelligent strategy that can rise to any occasion.

About The Author

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Michael Hammond
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.