Writing this blog wasn’t my idea.
In fact, the topic was pitched months ago by a member of the product marketing team via our (Kapost-supported) internal process for sourcing and implementing organization-wide ideas. Eventually, it found its way to me. And years from now, when I may be off working somewhere else, that original proposal, along with the copy, images, and conversation surrounding this blog post will live on.
That’s a very good thing. And it’s only possible because we place a deep emphasis on keeping content centralized and accessible.
Often, when marketers talk about evergreen content, they simply say to choose a topic that will be relevant for years to come, to not include specific dates, and be as progressive as you can—because in two years it’s already at risk for being out of date.
I’m here to tell you that isn’t going to cut it anymore. Why, you ask? Because we’ve entered an era where content defines the customer journey, and customer experience is central to all B2B organizations.
Marketing in the Emergent Era
You’ve probably heard the term “emergent era” tossed around in recent years, but here’s a quick refresher courtesy of Beth Comstock, Vice Chair at GE:
An emergent system…is one where order can emerge from chaos. It’s also one in which power and structure are created by the network, not decreed by hierarchy. Relatively simple rules govern all the individual components of any emergent system, but when they interact en masse they can evolve into complex, adaptive structures.
Overwhelmed? Consider the ant. Yes, ants, who “manifest the most complex social structures after human beings. Yet these structures emerge from simple behavior.” Each member doing its small, simple part, a colony of ants comes together to create something stunningly complicated.
It’s the same with content.
Once upon a time, it was enough to view content linearly, as something we could create and set free into the world like a white dove at the end of a solemn ceremony. When an asset was finished, we dusted off our hands and moved on to the next thing without sparing a thought for the role it would play in the strategic landscape, how it performed, or what we would do with it later.
We called that content marketing. Today, we think bigger, with content operations.
As you read this, your content creators are busily typing, filming, and designing away, each working as an individual on singular pieces of content. Their job is to make each asset outstanding. Your job is to ensure the final product of these efforts has a sum greater than that of its parts.
Successful Content Is Interdependent
A great content operation ensures no asset exists in a vacuum. Instead, each is part of a complex ecosystem, an important factor in the success and impact of its fellow content.
As a whole, the elaborate quilt of your content addresses each target persona’s unique concerns at every stage of the buyer’s journey. No one piece of content does all the heavy lifting—rather, each builds on what came before it to create the customer experience that dreams are made of.
The benefits of this way of thinking are, without a doubt, many-fold. But with it, the demands of upkeep rise substantially, too, since maintaining the health of the entire content ecosystem requires holistic nurturing. This commitment to your content can feel daunting if you’re up against high turnover, siloed teams, or too many tools.
Investing in Documentation
As we move away from the “set it and forget it” theory of content, it becomes clear that retaining living, breathing archives is imperative for ongoing success and efficiency.
All that content that your team is toiling over right this minute? It will inevitably become stale and outdated someday. And when that happens, assessing how (or whether) to refresh and republish each asset will be infinitely more efficient if you have insight into the thought processes, workflows, and assets surrounding the initial launch.
In many cases, why you create can be every bit as important as what you create. Sure, we put out this eBook on customer experience four years ago, but what goals were we trying to achieve in its publication? What was our target audience? What gap in our content coverage did it aim to fill? Did it achieve those objectives? How long did it take to make?
Similarly, it’s crucial to keep the actual components of a piece of content in a single, accessible place.
Recently, our team discovered a great yet out-of-date eBook that we desperately wanted to update and send back out into the world. Problem was, we didn’t have the original creative file. High and low we searched, even going so far as to bother old employees via LinkedIn messenger as we hunted for clues. Eventually, the mystery was solved and the files were located. But if past coworkers had held the future in mind and documented their processes better, we would have saved hours of wasted time.
Bracing for People Change
It’s not whether you’ll need these resources and insights—it’s when. With the rise of freelancers and a workforce that job-hops like never before, you can’t rely on people in your organization to serve as content historians. Let’s admit it: we all have someone on our team who unofficially occupies this role. They’re called in every time someone’s wondering why on earth a particular blog series was abandoned, unsure of who was responsible for influencer strategy for that one webinar in 2016, or curious whether it was sales who asked for that research brief (and whether they ever used it). They’re a life-saver.
Eventually—brace yourself for some tough news—this person will leave. And then where will you be? If the answer is, “I don’t want to think about it,” it’s time to start thinking about it.
Turnover is inevitable, but it’s a lot less painful when processes and assets are easy to find. When new hires don’t have to wander around the office searching for someone who can grant them access to something stored in a private drive folder or learn the hard way how workflows function on their teams, they’re able to onboard faster and start contributing with confidence.
Their superiors can be confident as well. With records of processes and the accountability of public workflows and progress, leadership and creatives alike can rest easy knowing everything is strategic, documented, and under control.
So hello, Kaposter skimming this in 2023! I hope you deem this blog worthy of a face-lift rather than a trip to the archive, but ultimately, that decision is up to you. I’m confident you’ll have all the tools you need to make the right choice.