My, if organization and decluttering isn’t quite the zeitgeist. And it makes sense, given the fresh new year, new start, and blank canvas themes that tend to arrive with January. I’m positive you’ve seen all of the discussion around the virtues and drawbacks of getting organized or “tidying up” as organizational guru Marie Kondo has coined the phrase. (It’s worth also remembering that in the pre-Kondo era, there was a popular theory that having a messy workspace meant you were a genius.)
It got me thinking about what the value of decluttering is in content marketing. When it comes down to it, decluttering is just the act of editing.
In all my years of corporate communications, marketing, content development, management coaching, and presentation and content skills coaching, one thing has remained utterly true: Helping other people to edit and categorize the information in their head—or the information they’re seeking—is one of life’s most invaluable skills and services.
Put another way, if you can help people to make sense and to categorize information they encounter on a daily basis into bite-size, digestible, and actionable chunks, you’ll be doing them an enormous service, and they will love you for it. This may explain why Marie Kondo is having such a moment. She’s helping people edit their lives to focus on the things they most value.
So it is with great content marketing.
Yes, but How?
It’s not hard to dream about a minimalist content strategy. I’m sure we’ve all done it. I often look upon our collateral inventory and sigh with resignation. It constantly reminds me of that infamous quote attributed to Mark Twain where he apologizes for having written a long letter due to not having sufficient time to organize and compose a shorter one.
It can then be tempting to throw your hands in the air and either give up on understanding what any of that content is actually doing for you or throw it all out and start building all over again from scratch. Neither is likely advisable if you enjoy being gainfully employed.
3 Steps to Keeping Your Content Repository Tidy
Dear reader, don’t give up hope. For content teams, when tidying up, you can ride a middle line between the messy desk theory and complete content asceticism, and reap some great results in the process. Here are three tips on how to do just that:
1. Keep the Mess
Keep the mess, but keep it at the very beginning of your process, and keep it hidden behind closed doors. Brainstorming is often necessarily unstructured and messy, and false starts can be myriad when developing new ideas and content. Allow anyone in the organization to bring unsolicited, new ideas and gather those somewhere to reference later when you’re feeling uninspired or running low on inspiration.
2. Find All of the Things
Gather all of your content, organize it, create your content taxonomy, tag every asset in the inventory, publish them in the right spots, and then measure the heck out of the performance of your inventory. Then cut, cut, cut the non-performers. Keep doing this until you’ve culled your collection of public-facing assets to only the high performers and then regularly identify what it was about those assets that drove performance. Rinse and repeat.
3. Spark Joy, Then Spark Action
What do I mean by that? Your content should be fun to read, great to look at, well organized, digestible, and as a result of all of those things—it needs to inspire the recipient/reader to want to take some form of action. Make sure when you’re building said content that it has a clear goal, audience, and message along with clear guidelines for what to do next. People love receiving clarity and direction. And sure, that’s a heavy burden to place on a single piece of content, but you’re up to the task, right?