Scaling your content strategy doesn’t require hiring more people to produce more stuff. It involves building systems to produce more effective content with fewer resources per unit.
You’re not expanding the content strategy, which implies simply ramping up operations. In that scenario, if it takes 10 hours to make one piece of effective content, it will take 20 hours to make two pieces of effective content.
Scaling implies efficiency. In the above scenario, what now takes 10 hours to create would take five hours to create in the more efficient scaled system.
Let’s explore five ideas to scale your content strategy efficiently and effectively.
1. Consider a minimum viable content approach
You first should stop wasting time creating and promoting the wrong content. Andrea Fryrear advocates well for using Agile principles to conduct small experiments to determine what the “right” content is. “Minimum viable content enables you to learn what your audience is interested in and then use what you’ve learned to create big, high-effort pieces that perform well,” she writes.
MVC refers to the smallest type of content that teaches you something about your audience and can effectively influence the behavior of that audience. “Minimum” doesn’t dictate the form of the content. It could be a blog post, an infographic, a video, etc. It also doesn’t mean the size of the content asset. Rather “minimum” refers to the scope of the project phase: It should be big enough to make an impact but small enough to be built quickly, deployed easily, and measured readily.
Take the example of a buyer’s guide. Far too often, the content marketing team plans out a huge campaign with a website, lots of carefully interlocked authority pages, clever apps, interactive quizzes, videos, social media, and blog posts, all geared around a set of keywords and messaging.
To be blunt, that’s a huge waste if the audience doesn’t want the buyer’s guide. In the MVC approach, the team would first create a quiz with a landing page and form. They would push out that asset using social media or email. Then, they could look at the impact. Did it get results? Great! If a reasonable number of people take the action, the team is on the right track and ready to develop the next related content asset.
2. Create intro content only once
Too often, content marketers start every piece of content by rehashing the basics. It’s not only unnecessary, and it can be detrimental. Sure, those info dumps can be packed with SEO-friendly keywords, but readers will need to scroll far down in the article to get to the meaty content promised by the headline. Or worse, they won’t bother and will click away to find better-focused intermediate or advanced-level material.
Why is that a scale efficiency issue? Someone has to write that info dump every single time. To address the need for primer explanatory content, create that introductory material once and link to it from your other relevant content.
3. Use force-multiplier assets
Some assets can drive future content creation, bringing tremendous synergies and economies of scale.
Take a 30-minute panel discussion with five experts, followed by short interviews with each of those experts. Now, think about all the content you can create from it:
- 15-minute summary video
- 5-minute quick overview video
- Individual videos with each expert
- Individual videos for each question posed to the panel
- Audio version of the discussion
Don’t forget the transcript article, the summary article, the infographics, etc. Plus, you can further explore the potential for new assets based on the themes suggested by that panel discussion.
Each of the subsequent pieces of content can be effective because the heavy lift was already done – convening and filming the original panel of experts.
4. Learn to say no
Not every piece of content is effective, and not every potentially effective piece is cost-effective. Evaluate content requests and learn to say no to the ones that won’t work well in your scaled system. Declining requests are necessary but difficult, especially if the content team is seen as a service department or when organizational power dynamics are involved.
Michele Linn poses the question to ask to make your point: Would anyone miss that extra content if you didn’t publish and promote it? While she asks that question in the broader issue of content strategy, it can work well for campaigns and assets as well.
If you scale by creating expensive but unnecessary assets, you’re simply not scaling efficiently.
5. Review what you’ve already done
Take the classic “The Year 2022 in Review” and “Top Predictions for 2023” assets. Let’s disregard whether those are a good idea and focus strictly on their efficiency.
When you do a second annual piece of content, you should never start with a blank screen or clean sheet of paper. Use what you wrote a year ago (and two years and three years ago) to create the new assets more efficiently.
You can even get more SEO efficiency from the annual content by using a URL that works year after year. For example, instead of the yearly dated www.mywebsite.com/top-predictions-2023, use an undated URL – www.mywebsite.com/top-predications, and simply replace last year’s content. That can yield more effective results and help remove material that is no longer relevant. In other words, think of the annual content as a refresh instead of a new asset. That’s how to scale with efficiency.
Make effective content more efficiently
You don’t have to figure out how to scale everything your content marketing does at one time. Instead, implement these five tips both deliberately and as the opportunity arises. See what works and doesn’t, adjust, and continue to scale an even stronger content marketing strategy.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute