How To Create An Effective Content Strategy For Your Business – Part 11: Content Troubleshooting
Learn how to create an effective content strategy for your business with this free video course. Part 11 of 12.
This is Part 11 of our free How To Create An Effective Content Strategy For Your Business video course.
This lesson covers troubleshooting and fixing issues with your content, your content strategy, and your content plan.
Watch the video lesson below or refer to the video transcript:
Welcome back to our video course on how to create an effective content strategy for your business.
This is module 11.
In the previous lessons, we looked at creating a content strategy and implementing plans for creating, promoting, and managing your content.
Now, what we want to do is look at what we can do if our content strategy isn’t working as expected, and how we can troubleshoot and find ways to fix any issues related to our content.
So, in this lesson, I’m going to introduce you to a systematic approach for troubleshooting content-related issues.
We’ll look at the general principles of this approach, and then look at how to troubleshoot issues with your content strategy and your content plan.
Everything covered in this lesson is documented in detail in a Content Troubleshooting Guide that you can refer to by visiting the link on your screen.
So here is the simple model we’ll use.
Basically, it’s a drill-down approach. So, when you run into a problem with your content, we start at the top to see if we can address, correct and eliminate the problem at that level, and if we can’t fix it at that level, we then drill down to the next level below it and start diagnosing the issue at that level, and so on.
Now, before we get into this, let me show you what I believe is the most important slide of this entire course.
Ok, this chart looks very simple, but if you really get it and understand what it means, you will realize that it is the key to fixing not only problems related to your content but also most of the problems in your business too!
And I’m not exaggerating here about the importance of understanding this chart. I showed this same chart to someone who was struggling to grow their business many years ago and it completely transformed their business.
Every business has three levels of decision-making and you can’t get away from this. So, even if you are just a one-person business, your business still has these three levels. You’ll just have to wear three different hats when making business decisions.
So let’s go through these.
The executive level is where strategic decisions get made, like defining your business vision and setting targets, goals and objectives.
The managerial level is where decisions get made that affect how your business will achieve the strategic goals and targets set by the executive level.
Now many people think that the managerial level is about managing people, but that’s the wrong approach.
Managerial-level decisions should be about implementing and managing the systems that the business will use to achieve its strategic goals and objectives.
So it’s about managing systems, not people.
And the tactical or technical level is where people do the actual work that will help the business realize its vision and achieve its goals and objectives.
At this level, people should be trained to follow the systems put in place by the management level, to hit the targets and goals set by the strategic level.
So, ideally, the way this works is that the executive level sets a strategic target, like for example “to increase annual sales by 20%”.
The managerial level then figures out which systems the business needs to put in place to achieve that 20% increase in sales.
The managerial level then also implements those systems and makes sure that the people hired to fill the tactical or technical roles have the skills and the training to operate those systems because when they do that, it will help to achieve the vision and goals set at the executive level.
Now, let me show you why understanding this is so important to fixing problems in your business like content-related issues.
So, let’s say that you have a small business and you want to grow your business with content marketing.
So you put together a content team with an editor, a couple of content writers, an illustrator with video-making skills, and a marketer who can do email marketing and social media marketing.
So everything is going well. Your team is publishing regular articles and blog posts, posting social media updates, uploading videos online, sending out newsletters, and so on.
A few months down the track, your manager informs you that the content is not really performing too well in terms of generating new leads, increasing engagement, and improving conversions.
And your content team also tells you that they’ve run out of content ideas and that the content pipeline has run dry.
So now we have a couple of serious problems on our hands.
We’re running out of new content ideas and our existing content isn’t delivering us the results that we need.
This is all costing us time and money so we need to find a solution.
At this point, many businesses kind of get stuck and start looking at short-term solutions.
So you can start running regular brainstorming sessions with your team each week to try and keep your content pipeline going, but if your content is not delivering the results you need, then just creating content for content’s sake isn’t going to fix anything.
It’s also kind of hard to know what to do to improve things like increase traffic from organic search or get more engagement on social media or convert traffic into sales if all you have is lots of data from analytics reports, but no systems or processes in place for turning this data into specific actions.
So what do you do to fix these problems?
Let’s go back to our chart with the three levels of decision-making and let’s map it on top of this scenario, and let’s see if it can help us troubleshoot and fix these problems.
First, if you really understand what this chart is about, you will see straight away why asking your writers to brainstorm new content ideas to create a content pipeline is not going to fix your issues and improve your results.
Why? Because you’re asking people at the tactical level to fix issues that should have been addressed at the strategic and managerial levels.
So you can come up with new content ideas all day long but if the content isn’t helping your business grow, then you’re just wasting valuable time, money, and resources.
But you can’t brainstorm new content ideas unless you first have a clear idea of what you are aiming to achieve, of who your target audience is, what kind of content you should be focusing on, and so on.
All of these questions need to be answered by the managerial level in the form of a content plan spelling out in nitty-gritty detail what kind of content needs to be written, how it should be delivered, and so on.
But the managerial level can’t create an effective content plan if the executive level hasn’t defined a content strategy with realistic and achievable goals and objectives, allocated sufficient budget for resources, tools, and training, and so on.
So the point here is, if your content pipeline runs dry, it’s not the responsibility of people at the tactical level to fix the issue. The responsibility is at the managerial level.
A business owner has the big picture of their business but everyone below that level doesn’t.
So, your editor and your content writers, they don’t have the big picture, which means that putting them in charge of your content strategy is only going to create more problems.
And if your content isn’t performing well, the problem may not even be at the managerial level. It could be at the strategic level, which is the responsibility of the business owners to fix.
This is where many businesses say “well… I’m too busy trying to run other parts of the business to fix content issues and come up with new content ideas – that’s why we hired all these content experts!”
Well, how can you blame the body for following a head that doesn’t know where it’s going?
So this is what this chart is telling you. That the executive level has to know where it’s going and the managerial level has to put the systems in place to help the business get there before your business can start putting people into tactical or technical roles and giving them responsibilities for getting the work done.
Without putting those foundations in place, your business will just keep running into problems.
This is why outsourcing areas of your business like content production, content promotion, or even content management to a digital agency or freelance writers without first putting systems in place to manage the outsourcing process can often lead to poor results.
The chart tells you that an external digital agency is not part of the executive level of the business and so they shouldn’t make executive-level decisions, and that freelance writers won’t build managerial-level systems that will help the business realize its vision, so a lot of the time, what businesses think is outsourcing is really just abdicating their responsibility for making executive and managerial-level decisions.
Once you know which level is responsible for doing what in the business, you can start troubleshooting and fixing issues with your content.
Until this happens, any short-term fixes are really just a game of “passing the buck” where nothing is really going to get fixed in the long run.
So, now that we understand this, let’s apply our content troubleshooting approach and see how we would solve the issues of getting our content pipeline running again and improve our content’s performance.
So we’ll use our simple content troubleshooting model and map our chart of decision-making levels on top of it.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a top-down approach, so we’ll start at the top by making sure that our basic business principles are in place.
This means looking at things like:
- Has the business clearly defined its vision, mission, and core values?
- Has the business set clear, realistic, and achievable goals and objectives?
- Does it have a business plan, marketing strategy, and marketing plan that flow logically from its vision, mission, and core values?
- Is there an allocated budget for resources and is it realistic?
- Are the business and marketing plans aligned with the goals and objectives of the business?
- And more importantly, is all of this documented and accessible to everyone in the business?
If all of the above are not in place, then the business is going to experience problems at the levels of implementation.
Let’s assume, then, that everything checks out at the foundational level, so the next level to look at is your content strategy.
As you can see from this chart, creating a content strategy is an executive-level responsibility.
The managerial and tactical levels can be involved and contribute to the content strategy, but the responsibility for setting the overall strategy for the long-term vision and direction of the content ultimately lies with the executive level.
So let’s look at some of the key areas to assess and review when troubleshooting our content strategy.
I’ve listed here a number of areas that can lead to content issues when certain things aren’t addressed at the content strategy level.
You will notice that many of these areas will also show up at the managerial level, i.e. the content plan, but for different reasons.
For example, if poor search engine optimization is identified as an issue that’s affecting your content performance, the strategic level is responsible for outlining in its content strategy that all content must follow SEO best practices.
The managerial level then has to figure out what these SEO best practices are and put together the SEO systems, guides, and guidelines that the content team should follow to make sure that SEO best practices are being implemented.
Another example is the allocation of resources.
Your content strategy might allocate a budget for content marketing based on their total budget for all business areas, but when the managerial level tries to implement their plans, they might find that their allocated budget is insufficient to cover all of the costs needed to meet the content strategy’s specifications, like hiring or training new content team members, investing in tools and technologies, and covering production costs like creating high-quality videos, and so on.
In this case, either the executive level needs to find and allocated additional funds or re-evaluate their specifications.
So as before, let’s assume that our content strategy has all of these areas covered, but that our content team still has no content pipeline and that our content isn’t performing as well as expected.
So, we have to go down one more level and see if we can try to locate the issues at the level of the content plan.
Here are some of the key areas to look at when troubleshooting your content plan.
What you will find with most of the areas listed here, is that the real time-consuming work of building systems, processes, and procedures to make the content strategy work is the managerial level’s responsibility. The executive and tactical levels can be involved in helping to document the content plan, but it’s not the responsibility of the content team to create it.
So, with areas like no content measuring or evaluating, a content strategy will tell us which metrics are important to track, but setting up the systems, processes, and tools to measure and report on those metrics is a managerial-level responsibility.
A content manager might choose to create and run those systems themselves, or assign it to someone else in the team, or even to outsource the task to experts, but it is their responsibility to create a content plan first that addresses all of these areas.
So the point here is that these are all managerial-level decisions and responsibilities. And if any of these areas is deficient, then your content team will struggle to have an ongoing pipeline and your business will struggle to improve its content performance.
Your business will keep running into problems if managers are trying to manage people instead of putting systems and processes in place for tactical and technical-level roles to follow.
So if the strategic level has clearly outlined the metrics that are important to track in its content strategy and the managerial level has implemented an effective content tracking system as per their content plan, and the same thing has been done for all of the other important areas like understanding the target market, defining content types, setting guidelines for your content, branding, SEO, etc. then you should be able to identify and pinpoint exactly what’s causing the issue with a content pipeline or with your content performance.
You would have all the systems in place for creating, promoting, and managing your content effectively and your content team would know what content topics and themes they should be focusing on.
This is where and when they can help brainstorm new content ideas to keep the content pipeline running.
If everything at the content plan level is fine and there are still issues, then the next step is to drill further down into your content plan and look at the specific components like your content production plan, your content promotion plan, and your content management plan.
Once again, creating these is the responsibility of the managerial level.
So, for example, if having no content pipeline is still an issue, you would look at your content production plan and see if there are any issues or problems like poorly-defined production workflow processes, or a lack of documented procedures, or are people just not following the documented processes and guidelines, or is there no content calendar, or are there unclear roles and responsibilities, or lack of skills or training in using the right tools, and so on.
Now, if your content performance hasn’t improved after reviewing your content plan, then you would look at your content promotion plan and see if there are any issues or problems like whether your team is following the marketing plan, if they have access to analytics data and reports and can understand the metrics, if they are using the right distribution channels and the right tools to track content performance, improve SEO, and so on.
Similarly, if after drilling all the way down there are still issues, then you would go through your content management plan and review whether any areas here are causing issues.
For example, issues at this level may be related to poor organization, poor time management, work overload, blurry roles and responsibilities, or a lack of documentation, or even issues with content tracking and content protection, poor content linking practices, failures to backup content, a lack of knowledge of using management tools, and so on.
So, in summary,
Understanding the three levels of decision-making in a business is very important, as it helps to work out who is responsible for doing what in your business.
Use a top-down approach to diagnose and troubleshoot issues with your content. This is an effective approach because as you address and eliminate issues at the higher levels, your business will experience fewer problems and get better results as time goes on.
Also, keep in mind that most content-related issues are caused by the lack of a well-defined content strategy, so the more you focus on getting your content strategy clear from the outset, the fewer problems you will experience later in other areas of your business.
And finally, keep in mind that your content strategy is really an outline of the work that needs to be done but most of the time-consuming work of implementing the strategy is done at the managerial level, such as documenting system, processes, and guidelines, making sure that the content team is trained to follow systems, guidelines, and procedures, and troubleshooting and fixing issues with your content systems.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, you can refer to the comprehensive Content Troubleshooting Guide and tutorials on ContentManagementCourse.com if you need help with any of these areas.
So, that’s all for this video.
In the next and final lesson, we’ll wrap up this course with a recap and useful tips and suggestions for taking the next steps.
Thank you for watching and I’ll see you in the next lesson.
See the following lessons and tutorials for more information about the topics covered in this video lesson: