Content Rework Again? How to Avoid Recipes for Disaster

Jumpstart Your Mise en Place To Avoid

Mise en place is a French culinary term for “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” It refers to how you organize ingredients, equipment or a kitchen station before you begin cooking. It’s also a philosophy, a way to think about how to cook. A thoughtful mise en place leads to a more organized, efficient cooking process and a higher quality product. It can also minimize having to remake the broken mayonnaise, the burnt garam masala or the dried tarte crust. But this isn’t about cooking; this is about how to avoid content rework.

Like in cooking, you can’t completely avoid mistakes or rework, but you can mitigate the harm they inflict on your process. I’ve come up with six tips to minimize rework for B2B content marketers. Some of these may seem overly simplistic, but it’s the little things that matter. Minced garlic is not chopped garlic; the subtle difference dramatically influences both taste and texture.

1. Identify all your key stakeholders

Missing the right stakeholder at the right time extends your project timeline and chews up your budget. Stakeholders lurk in all corners of your content creation process. Where do they hide? Companies merge or get acquired and in comes an army of new stakeholders. Or somebody new gets hired and joins the content creation team. Maybe the CEO suddenly shows an interest in weighing in on the content. What can you do?

Ask the following questions to nail down your stakeholders:

  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • What are their roles in the process?
  • What drafts will each stakeholder review? (outline, draft 1, design drafts, final draft)
  • Which stakeholders will be interviewed?

The Content Marketing Institute examined effective content marketers and found that 53% of them use a planning process that involves not just creating a strategy, but documenting the entire process as well. You need to ensure you have the right people in place as early as possible so the project can progress smoothly – 86% of the companies most effective at content marketing have someone in charge of the entire process, so these clear delineation of roles really do have an impact on the quality of what’s produced.

2. Define your purpose before you begin

Ever been on a project that wants to be all things to all people? How about a content project that drifts or expands in scope? The project needs a purpose, a raison d’etre, and a clear starting point. To avoid these situations try the following:

  • Define the content purpose and topic
  • Understand your audience and how the topic addresses their needs
  • Is it thought leadership? Or is it further down the funnel?
  • Are you trying to generate new leads?

Tailor your content to reach your targeted audience by drawing on the questions your customers have. You may have more than one audience, but you should try to make your content as targeted as possible. According to IBM, 56% of the most successful marketers believe that highly personalized content is the best – you have to give your audience what they want. 78% of consumers view companies that create custom content favorably, so it’s well worth your effort to invest in mapping out your purpose.

3. Collaborate with the team to design a flexible project timeline

We live in a world of hyper-acceleration. Speed is everything. I have designed thousand of project timelines. Everybody wants it done yesterday. But quality matters too. Content creation processes generally involve many people, each with their own time constraints, obligations, and demands. A flexible timeline paints a picture of the time and the tasks and the people required to complete a project. It’s flexible because it’s easy to change.

If you create a project timeline that prioritizes speed over accuracy, you’re setting yourself up to fail. As we say, time is the enemy in both the kitchen and the content creation process. You can never account for all the possible tasks or surprises you’ll discover along the way but if you have the big buckets of activity defined you can succeed. Meet with the team and client to capture how they envision the project.

Some simple questions to ask when creating a timeline:

  • What is the deadline? (start there and work backwards)
  • What are the main phases of work (kickoff, research, content creation, production, final delivery, publish)
  • Who are the team players? (refer back to your stakeholders)
  • What barriers or risks are there? (new team, new type of asset or many different stakeholders)

Developing timelines is part art and part science. You have to practice. Your mistakes will slowly transform you into a better team member (marketing manager/content producer, project or product manager). Content creation, like the craft of cooking, is an exercise in pleasurable torture or tortured pleasure. I hope these tips transport you to that place in heaven where content mise en place resides and not here on planet earth where content rework burns bright. And please, check back for 3 more tips to avoid content rework.

Become a content creation ninja


Also published on Medium.