Nothing conjures an image of precision more than a fine Swiss watch – except, perhaps, the German commuter rail system. Why? Because they’re both always on time. If you want your marketing campaigns to run with Swiss precision without getting derailed, start paying as much attention to deadlines as you do to every other element of content development.
The ripple effects of missed deadlines
Just like leaving one station late can set a train behind for the rest of the day, missing one deadline in your content creation process can set off a chain reaction that can really set your programs back.
Let’s imagine you’re promoting a new product. Your team has spent weeks preparing a campaign based on an eBook that helps identify the key problems your technology solves. To drive readership and boost engagement, you’ve developed an email drip campaign, a call-out in your newsletter, a blog post and a series of social media updates. All of this supporting content is pre-loaded and ready to go, and deploying it hinges on the eBook being done. There’s just one glitch.
The freelance writer you hired missed his initial deadline, then turned in an eBook that needed significant revisions. Long story short – the key piece of content for your entire campaign is running about two weeks behind. This throws off not only the email series promoting the eBook, but forces the marketing team to reschedule its other emails as well. Your newsletter is now short on content and your team has to scramble to fill the void in your social media plan. All because of one missed deadline.
3 tips to help you stop missing deadlines
Sometimes it can feel like missed deadlines are out of your control, but there are a few things you can do today to reduce their frequency and keep your programs moving.
#1 Assign realistic deadlines
In a perfect world, content creation would happen instantaneously – or at least really, really fast. But creating quality content often takes more time than you think. So it’s important to set realistic expectations up front, and plan for a hiccup or two. You’ll also want to factor in some time for those extra steps we sometimes underestimate, such as SME reviews, quality and consistency checks, design and keywording. It can all add up to a much longer development time than you expected, so give yourself the time you need.
#2 Institute content creation checkpoints
Sometimes marketers don’t know that a content project has gone astray until it’s too late. This can be particularly true in high tech B2B, where complex topics, detailed personas and intricate buyer journeys converge to make content development a tricky task. If left unchecked, one misinterpreted piece of source material or missed detail can render an entire draft useless, and that can set your content back a long time. That’s why it’s critical to create a series of milestones that give you a glimpse into how things are going – well before a project goes off the rails.
At Cabral Communications, we pay special attention to the first two steps in our development process – intake (when a client requests a piece of content) and initiation (when we fully brief our writer on the details of a project). Our Content Managers also check in along the way to ensure that the angle, theme, messaging and depth are spot on – so there are few surprises when we review the initial draft.
#3 Fill your content management void
If missed deadlines are more of a rule than an exception for you, it may be that your content management function isn’t quite there yet. The importance and volume of content in today’s B2B marketing organization requires someone who is dedicated to managing it all. This not only means ushering content through development on time, but ensuring its consistency, quality and alignment with your program goals.
A skilled Content Manager can streamline content production, improve your content and make sure you meet your deadlines. While content management is sometimes a full-time job, the role can also be shared by a content marketing person or even outsourced to an agency like ours. No matter how you staff the content management function, it’s critical to establish ownership and accountability for driving content through development, tracking it diligently and serving as the final checkpoint.
When you’re running a finely tuned marketing operation, content is your fuel. Without it, programs stall, problems mount and people sit idle. But putting a few safeguards in place can help you avoid missing deadlines and help your content operation rise above the chaos and run like clockwork.