Thanks to Michael Brenner of SAP for allowing us to re-post my guest column on his blog, B2B Marketing Insider, which appeared on September 3, 2013


Why is Content so Painful?

Brands face multiple obstacles when organizing the content function. They must grapple with content proliferation; inconsistent and uncoordinated content creation; the lack of strategic direction in the content insights process; and the difficulty for consumers, customers and prospects to find content that is relevant and timely. Brands identify multiple pain points when dealing with content strategy and the execution of content marketing programs.

ComBlu published The Alchemy of Content: A Formula for Overcoming Four Major Content Pain Points, which focuses on challenges that brands have identified as continuing roadblocks to efficient and effective content. Following is a brief summary of common sense steps for overcoming each pain point. More detailed descriptions can be found in the book.

Pain Point One: Grappling with the best way to organize the content creation and distribution process.

The Problem in Brief: Organizations create content is a dispersed structure often resulting in multiple pieces of content being created by multiple areas of the company with little awareness that other content objects existed or were in production. In addition, often no master editorial calendar drives the content creation or amplification process. The lack of a chief content officer or well defined governance process results in no central authority to lead and direct the content creation process.

Here are five things that brands should do before beginning to create their content organization.

1. Map the current nodes of the content eco-system across the entire enterprise. This requires the authority to create a cross-functional view of how content gets produced.

2. Analyze the map to determine if there is a logical flow and uncover interdependencies between groups that can impact efficiencies and approvals.

3. Study the delta between current and future state and create a step strategy for breaking down siloes and working cross functionally.

4. Create a content governance structure that aligns with future state.

5. Adopt a center of Excellence approach that is both dynamic and inclusive.

Pain Point Two: Figuring out the best way to “feed the content beast.”


The Problem in Brief: Many brands overcompensate for their role as content publisher by generating a ton of content and indiscriminately amplifying it across as many channels as possible. The real goal is to create fewer pieces of “epic” content that kindles an “aha” moment when a person discovers it and realizes it is just what they need right now.

Here’s an approach for making your content resonate deeply at the point of discovery?

1. Start with an insights process that provides deep understanding, fresh perspective and a honed vision of what will resonate and fulfill a specific need. In our experience, there is no dearth of available background information to inform story ideation and road map development, but typically information is scattered throughout the organization with no systematic way to capture, analyze and apply it

2. Model the insights process for a specific need and use the results to create a COE methodology for content insights. This involves overlaying inputs from multiple points such as SEO reports, listening scans, CMS & CRM data, conference reports, sales insights, customer insights and research reports, etc. Overlay inputs and create a topic “Venn diagram” to determine topics best suited for brand differentiation and marketplace resonance.

3. Use results to create a content roadmap. Audit existing content to identify holes and get new content needs into the content production cycle.

Pain Point Three: Finding the optimum content cadence or publishing cycles.

The Problem in Brief: Many brands still fall into the trap of thinking they need to produce content because they have a publishing cycle that dictates “x” pieces of content per week or month. They use traditional time-stamped publishing models to schedule content. However, if the nature and quality of your content is optimized, you may be able to publish less frequently with better effect.

One of the key outcomes of the insights process is data that informs both content cadence and publication timing. It requires the brand to view the output from the insights process through a different lens.

1. Start by looking at events that can impact the timing of content publication. Cyclical events, seasonal dynamics or conferences are good examples.

2. Create a timeline that maps pertinent “timing” events. Include conference topics aligned with hot topics, upcoming publications of books or white papers, release of blockbuster entertainment events, issuance of government regulations or dates of special hearings, seasonal or cyclical events, marketing campaigns, etc

3. Look for clusters of events around each hot topic to identify content sprints for each topic. Adjust the content road map to accommodate for these points of topic interest.


Pain Point Four: Determining if content is working hard enough for the investment made.

The Problem in Brief: Content ROI is subjective and driven by the business mission or objectives of the content marketing program. An integrated approach to measurement yields a value story as opposed to simply tracking activity metrics

Defining your value story requires a methodical approach.

1. Clearly identify KPIs aligned with business mission.

2. Identify the metrics that will work as a unit to tell a value story.

3. Identify the sources of those metrics and pull into a dashboard using connectors.

4. Create an algorithm that weights each metric in relation to their importance to the “story.”

5. Analyze performing and non-performing metrics for each KPI on a periodic basis and use to calibrate approach.

In 2011 ComBlu published Content Supply Chain, an eBook that laid out a strategic framework for forecasting content needs, managing production and publication and measuring its impact on business goals. ComBlu’s new eBook delves into content pain points and presents a method for attacking and taming each one. If you’re interested in reading about these topics in greater detail, you can download it here.


About Kathy Baughman

Kathy Baughman is president and co-founder of ComBlu, an organization specializing in influencer marketing and customer advocacy, content strategy and analytics. Kathy’s forte is content, social engagement and social business strategy. Her passions include bringing a fresh point of view to everything she does and helping organizations take their programs to the next level.

Kathy recently authored two eBooks, Content Supply Chain, and The Alchemy of Content. She also writes the firm’s annual research report, “State of Online Branded Communities”.

Cheryl Treleaven

Cheryl Treleaven


Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.