Modern online marketing, also known as soft marketing, is all about content quality, connections and interactions. Let’s be honest here: in the world of soft marketing, every self-proclaimed or wannabe influencer — from authors of self-help books and public talks to bloggers and podcasters — ends up talking through more or less the same set of advice as the next — and the previous — writer, speaker or thought leader. This is the nature of the self-promotion game. As an audience member, you soon come to the conclusion that all these authors are effectively missing the point: your own pain point. After all, who cares about the optimal time to tweet, the best blogging theme or the most efficient platform to publish on, when the real problem is that you don’t have relevant or original content to start with?
Despite what these marketers and sellers are trying their best to push, “content” is not something that naturally oozes off an organization — or off an individual, for that matter. Which is why you’re probably asking yourself: What content? Where do I get the material from? How do I turn this material into original content that is relevant to my business and organization? These are questions that none of those talking heads will ever answer directly. They are out of scope questions, so to speak, at least from a marketer’s perspective. So where do you find these answers? Where do you get content from?
In this series of articles, I will walk you through the essentials of a process which will ensure that you and your organization will have access to a constant stream of material and content. I will explain the theory behind this process, then I will show you the operational tweaks and the best practices that you want to adopt and adapt to your own, everyday business processes in order to make this happen. I will show you how to effectively transform your business into a content-generation machine. I will leave it to others to teach you how to manage, select and optimize that content as you push it through your promotional, marketing and sales funnels.
First, a few words of warning: this technique is by no mean another miracle cure to your content aches. It is not a marketing scheme: there will be no sales pitch at the end. At the same time, the technique does not claim responsibility in advance for some quick weight loss or hair re-growth, nor does it promise to generate enough passive income to make you a millionaire within 6 months. With these concerns out of the way, let’s get started with a 10,000 foot overview of the Lean content generation technique.
The Lean content generation process as a whole aims at transforming your organization into a business that can survive the next decade: as far as we can see, it will be an age of extreme and extremely fast, disruptive changes. Nevertheless, your business should be able to survive it, and to do so without losing its customers or its bearings.
The Lean content generation approach can be broken down into four (4) discrete segments. For the sake of simplification, we label these segments as:
You will notice that each segment is identified by a verb. This is intentional, as segments hereby refer to a set of practices. They are called segments because the practices that they embed work in isolation: assuming that the latter are sufficiently implemented, each of these segments will thrive in its own silo. In other words, their individual mechanic ensures that they can work autonomously and still produce measureable outcomes. Autonomous segments means that there’s no reliance or direct dependency on other segments beside their raw output. Once the right practices are in place, all these will naturally connect to each other within the organization. As a whole, they will enable your organization to generate content as part of its normal flow of operations. Let’s have a brief look at these segments and at what they refer to.
The first thing you need to do is to change your organization’s state to one of active awareness. The potential of an organization to remain aware of contexts and changes throughout its activities is a prerequisite to its ability to observe. Active observation results in creating internal and external feedback loops, both of which will ultimately enhance your organization’s competencies.
Observation alone provides but the basic foundations of content. In order for pure observations to be useful in a larger context — that of the entire organization, or of the public in general — they need to be brought up a notch and generalized enough so they become actionable. Thus, expanding is the act of extending prior observations with a purpose. Defining that purpose and implementing mechanisms that enable fluid expansion of prior observations are keys to enabling an organization to thrive in a context of rapid changes.
Describing is the action of translating an existing set of expanded observations and organizing the result into a communicable format. In this context, writing, making a video or recording a podcast are actions that describe the result of the previous segments, ultimately turning those outcome into a self-contained medium that communicates content.
Publishing is the action of disseminating communicable material through the channels that can use it as content, and doing so using every mean available in a way that promotes further growth. Publishing feeds back into the loop and thus creates additional opportunities to further enhance the organization.
In the end…
Because of the obvious limitations of the blog format, chances are that the high level descriptions given above seem quite terse and technical. Rest assured that in future articles, readers will have access to a much more comprehensive, albeit longer and more detailed, description of each of those segments. I will also provide real-world, down-to-earth examples of each step necessary to implement the technique: a system that will ultimately transform your organization into a Lean content generation machine. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it may well turn out that this transformation is necessary for your organization to survive the next decade. To stay informed about this blog’s follow up as well as other Backbay innovations and products, please make sure to follow us on twitter.
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