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The 2 biggest obstacles of creating quality content at scale

As marketers, it’s your job to produce the content that connects your brand with prospective customers. The challenge is that people are now able to connect to your brand in a seemingly endless number of ways.

Think about how people scroll through content. They use their phones to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (among many other channels) to get their daily dose of content and news updates.

According to Google, 85% of US adults use multiple devices at the same time to view content. Visually appealing content is the style of choice across many channels, and are more likely to get the most engagement.


Source: TrackMaven

Creating effective content is not as simple as waving your hand and saying “we need more.” More is not the answer without a process in place to efficiently and sustainably create content.

Let’s look at 2 of the biggest obstacles restricting your ability to create custom content at scale.

  • Understanding Why Your Current Content Has Limited Impact

  • Building A New Creative Process That is Sustainable


1. Understanding Why Your Current Content Has Limited Impact

The fact of the matter is that the content consumption landscape has changed. Mobile devices have made it easy for people to consume content, but also easy for people to block or ignore irrelevant content.

Brands need to be in more places and accessible through more channels than ever before. However, the content promoted across those channels is often unaligned with what people expect to see.

Expert Opinions about Content Creation

CMI Founder Joe Pulizzi and MarketingProfs’ Chief Content Officer Ann Handley collaborate every year on a study known as the Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report. Together they share their research and make bold expectations for content marketing in the coming year.

If you want to understand the true impact of content and the importance of creating quality marketing assets, these two should be at the top of your list of experts to follow.

Is Your Content Diversified Enough?

Joe Pulizzi wrote a blog post summarizing an annual workshop he runs to help educate small business CEOs and operations managers about content marketing. During the workshop, he was overwhelmed by complaints from attendees about their own marketing team’s efforts with content. Eventually, Joe stopped his presentation to respond to the unrelenting criticisms with one critically important question.

“Is the content you create and distribute different than anything else that is out there?”
— Joe Pulizzi

Evidently, you could hear crickets chirping in response to Joe’s question. He proceeded to ask each listener specific questions about their strategies, which broadly apply to all marketers today.

  • What’s different about your newsletter compared to others?
  • Why are your social media ads more relevant than what else is on the web?
  • How is your content distinct from competitors?
  • If you’re only promoting generic concepts, why should people care if it’s your brand sharing that widely accepted information?

Without diversifying your content from what’s come before, there’s no question that you WILL struggle to build an audience and generate interest in your business.

Have You Challenged Yourself to Create Content in New Ways?

Ann Handley began 2017 by writing a blog post about this being the year to challenge content marketing assumptions. She discussed how content marketing is still evolving; that content’s role and impact within a business is still being defined beyond being a tool to generate new business leads. Ann encouraged marketers of all stripes to challenge what we all think we know about content and content marketing.

  • Poke holes in your creative processes
  • Don’t be afraid to divert away from how you’ve always done things
  • Recognize that high-quality content will make more of an impact than high quantities of low-quality content
  • Search for a sustainable model to produce quality content at scale

Ann also talked about how brands as publishers need to recognize that becoming a publisher means acting like one.

“Only recently have we begun to understand that being a “publisher” means acting like one. Putting the audience above all — creating value for it first, and selling stuff second.”
— Ann Handley

This philosophy echoes what Joe Pulizzi imparted upon his workshop attendees.

People need to understand the value of your content so they want to engage with it.

Challenging the old ways also means adopting new solutions into your creative process. Technology and other methods to streamline workflow are increasingly important for producing effective pieces of content in sustainable and repeatable ways.

If you haven’t brought technology into your creative process, start looking at new solutions.

2. Building a New Creative Process That is Sustainable

Taking into account that creating content for the simple reason of having something to share with your audience is no longer a viable strategy, the question becomes:

What do you do now?

People are consuming content more rapidly and for briefer moments than at any time before. Mobile has a massive impact on this behavioral shift and paved the route towards omnichannel consumer experiences.

Facebook Insights collected data on how mobile has changed the ways people shop for new products.


Source: Facebook Insights

Facebook’s research indicates that 64% of people will conduct most of their research using their smartphones or tablets, and 61% expect to continue searching for information while in-store.

This means you need to create content that guides people, by way of their smartphones, through the buying journey. Traditional creative models, where brands produced a handful of content assets for the year, are no longer sustainable to keep always-on consumers engaged with you.

Brad Jakeman, President of Global Beverage Group at PepsiCo, perhaps best described the way marketers must adapt to the digital age of content consumption.

“Now, that four pieces has turned into 4,000; eight months has changed to eight days and eight hours, and budgets have not gone up.”
— Brad Jakeman

What’s Your Creative Budget?

Most companies operate on very limited budgets set aside for content creation. Of course, there are exceptions, like Netflix and ESPN. According to CNBC, the two media platforms will spend approximately $6 billion and $7.3 billion, respectively on content in 2017.

The majority of marketers have significantly smaller budgets to produce their own creatives. What’s even more of an obstacle is that budgets are remaining flat despite consumer demand for more content rising year over year.

Referring back to the Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, take a look at these two visuals. The first shows what B2C brands expect their marketing teams to do with content in 2017 compared to 2016.


Source: Content Marketing Institute

The second shows how much brands are willing to spend on content over the next 12 months compared to the last 12 months.


Source: Content Marketing Institute

The numbers tell the story!

About 70% of brands want their teams to create more content, but fewer than half of those brands are willing to increase their budgets for content creation. A larger than expected number of companies are unsure of how to set aside money for content creation, and some brands are shockingly planning to decrease their creative budgets.

What’s the Solution?

This is a lot to process but these are all important insights towards developing creative models that are efficient and scalable.

  • Understand the needs of your audience so you can create content that speaks to them
  • Diversify your brand with visual or video content that people want to spend time on
  • Challenge the old ways that you’ve created content with technology and other solutions
  • Place an emphasis on mobile-first content to help people connect to you from anywhere
  • Determine how much budget you have for creative production and viable ways to scale productivity with those resources

Once you’ve overcome these 2 big (and many, many other) obstacles with real insight, data, and analysis, you can incorporate a new creative model that allows you to produce high-quality custom content at scale.

The road to overcoming these obstacles is a long one and requires an honest look at your content, your creative process, and what changes you can afford to make. But if you’re sincere about scaling content creation and eager to embrace new models, this analysis will direct you to new opportunities and better results.

Are you ready for new solutions that help you create high-quality, custom, and mobile friendly content at scale? Join our webinar about “How to Scale Content Creation for Social and Digital Channels” for insights into new creative models, and how those solutions can help you make better, sustainable content at scale.