It’s no secret that many companies have lost clients and revenue as a result of COVID-19. But companies like yours face challenges all the time as a result of industry or internal changes. The biggest problem for many is keeping staff employed, productive, and contributing to the business until their normal workload increases again.
This article will show you the strategy we’ve developed at Living Online that helps businesses around the world increase, rather than lose, revenue during times of crisis.
We’ll show you the exact principles you can apply across your business to build a solid workflow that helps turn your spare staff capacity into an efficient and effective content marketing machine. After all, you want to keep talented staff not only employed, but growing your business, don’t you?
Table of Contents
What’s The Problem?
COVID-19 unleashed havoc on the business community, changing the way we work and drying up business revenue at a remarkable rate. Sadly, many businesses were left with no choice but to make their staff redundant or to reduce their work hours. We have seen mass job losses and registrations for the JobKeeper payment.
Letting someone go not only takes a huge toll on the person themselves, but also your overall business as the accrued knowledge, intellectual property, and experience goes with them.
Meanwhile, many companies aren’t generating enough leads during this time. And they are understandably reluctant to spend money on advertising and are uncertain how to proceed. This is where Living Online can help.
As we come out the other side of this global crisis, the competition to secure customers will be at an all-time high. Organisations who let many, or all, of their employees go will be at a clear disadvantage. They will face considerable costs in terms of time, money, and resources. If not all former staff return, those businesses will need to go through the hiring process to build up their workforce. They will also need to invest in training to bring new staff up to speed. Both these processes come with inefficiencies.
And while COVID-19 saw this problem occur on a mass scale, it’s not uncommon for companies to face temporary reductions in workload required at the best of times. Being such a regular occurrence, surely there must be a better solution than letting staff go?
Why Does This Matter?
It’s always been important to maximise the efficient and effective use of your team. While all companies have some level of waste in their workflows, the flow-on effects of this can be massive. Low staff utilisation and high inefficiencies mean that internal costs are higher than required. This results in the company needing to increase the prices of their products and services to make a profit, which in turn affects their ability to price competitively.
If you’re experiencing a reduction in workload, you will see a big revenue problem, which then leads to a profit problem. This is not a position any business wants to be in.
Let’s put this in context…
The average working week is 38 hours. Once you take annual leave, public holidays and sick leave into account, this means a capacity of about 140 hours per month, per employee. If workload is down by just 30%, you’ve got around 42 hours of spare capacity per month. For a team of 10 people, that’s more than 400 hours a month of wasted time. Multiply that by the hourly rate you are paying those employees and that can be a considerable chunk of money you’re losing without gaining anything back.
Now imagine if your business is larger than that. The maths isn’t pretty.
But, the good news is…
Hiding within these unused staff hours is a huge amount of value bursting at the seams, waiting to get out. You can use this to generate leads, increase revenue, and create a virtuous reinforcing cycle.
What’s The Solution?
In short, the solution is for your company to become a content marketing powerhouse.
Baffled? Let me explain.
Content marketing is a valuable component of an overarching digital marketing strategy. When done correctly, it attracts high value prospects and persuades them to do business with you, increasing your revenue. You can achieve this through persuasive writing, the SEO benefits it has, and the marketing incentive it offers. Due to a lack of resources, however, most companies keep this on the back burner, never quite dedicating to it the time it deserves.
With your staff now having a lot of extra spare time, it’s the perfect opportunity to become a content machine through the same finely-oiled printing press style processes that have powered newspaper production houses since 1632. But, with a new and improved twist.
There are a number of online publishers who’ve successfully adapted the old printing processes to effectively compete in what is a saturated, highly competitive online market. Companies like yours then capitalise on the popularity of these publishers to advertise brand and products. But there are inherent inefficiencies with this model.
Say you are advertising in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal’s online publications. A user arrives at the publication’s site and begins reading an article that interests them. They then need to see your ad, and click on it, before landing on your website and engaging with you directly. This leads to a massive drop-off in audience numbers from those who read the article on the publisher’s site, through to those who arrived at your website. You’re missing out on a lot of potential prospects.
What if we could work with you to build a content marketing machine that attracts the user directly, without losing them to a third-party site? And without costing you heavily in ad spend to break through the clutter? This means you can extract much more value per user with this process than you can through advertising on an online publication.
So, what’s stopping you?
More than likely, it’s the fact that you don’t have the content marketing machine in place to create high volume and high-quality content.
That’s where we come in.
Through a process we’ve developed and successfully implemented ourselves, we can turn your spare staff capacity into an efficient, revenue-generating content marketing machine.
Our step-by step process is outlined below.
1. Defining your objectives
The first and most important step in generating a content marketing strategy is to define your objectives. What is it you want to achieve? We can help work with you to set clear goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely – and all tie back to your overall business objectives.
It’s important to first audit your resources and figure out exactly how much time your team has available. Backwards-looking time tracking software such as Harvest is fantastic in clearly seeing where employees are spending their time and identifying how many hours is currently spare, wasted or unused.
2. Pulling together the resources
Once you’re clear on how many hours the team can contribute to this content marketing strategy, you need to identify various skillsets to allocate these resources. Ask yourself where each team member’s level of expertise lies, and how each can contribute to the process. Are some people strong writers? Will others be better contributing to the knowledge and research stage?
If there are clear skillsets lacking, we can work with you to outsource any resource requirements. For example, you may need to hire a freelance editor for a few hours a week to add the finishing touches to each piece of content before it goes out to the public.
Once you’ve worked out the strengths and weaknesses of your team, and how many hours they will be working on the content, share the clearly defined objectives with them to make sure they are all on the same page. Then, get them excited about what they can achieve.
3. Creating your content marketing strategy
In defining your content marketing strategy, you need to make sure your content speaks volumes while contributing to your bottom line. Anyone can write content, but there’s a difference between an ordinary blog and one that’s written to convert.
We carry out in-depth research to determine exactly what content you need to create to meet your objectives. We look at search trends of keywords, current hot topics, the problems your target market is facing, and more. We then align these topics with your SEO strategy and high value keywords, ensuring you get maximum bang for your buck.
The idea is that not only will your content appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) for queries related to that topic, but it will also help your key website pages, like product and service pages, appear higher in search engines themselves. Both of these will bring highly qualified visitors, and potential leads, to your website.
Your strategy should also answer the specific problems of your target market, as well as be built in a way that conveys your story and supports your brand in staying true to its identity. From here, we work with you to produce engaging and creative copy, ensuring your brand voice is digitally brought to life.
Each content piece needs to finish with a strong call to action, that leads readers onto the next stage of their buyer journey. Your call to action might be to download a resource, or read another relevant article on your site. For those closer to the bottom of the sales funnel, your call to action might be the offer of a free consultation or demonstration.
We make sure that each piece of your content marketing puzzle contributes to your business objectives and ultimately brings you revenue.
4. Planning your content marketing schedule
If you fail to prepare, you’re preparing to fail. You need a dedicated content marketing schedule that covers what you’re going to promote. This also helps keep your team working at maximum capacity generating value for your business, without losing the momentum.
We help companies like yours define content marketing schedules that entail:
- the right content topics, chosen to add maximum value to your company
- who is responsible for each topic
- a “production workflow” covering research, outline creation, copywriting, editing, reviewing, and publishing
- when each stage of the production workflow is due
- when the finished content will be published online
- when and how your content will be promoted for maximum value.
Establishing an effective workload is the aim. Your content marketing schedule should be built to ensure everyone in the team always has multiple articles in various stages. Nobody should be waiting for approval and twiddling their thumbs. They should be able to pick up the next article in line and keep the content marketing machine moving.
Tip: To ensure you’re always forward planning, software such as Trello is a great way to visualise your workflow management. It should easily show how many articles are at each stage of production and promotion, who is responsible for what, and what the deadlines are.
5. Developing a Content Writing Guide
With multiple people working on content for your business, it’s important that everybody is on the same page. A Content Writing Guide provides clear guidelines as to the style of the article, who the target audiences are, what the outlines should look like, the purpose of the articles and how they will be used. This might be as a blog article, sales collateral, or a value-add resource.
It aims to prevent a mishmash of content with no clear direction, and minimises time spent trying to plan their writing – when everybody is clear on how they need to create their content, it increases efficiency as well as enables consistency. It’s the best way to ensure your content is consistently high quality, yet able to be written quickly.
We will work with you to create a guide that speaks volumes about your business. We research your brand, your offering, your target market, and your competitors to keep new content ideas flowing. We will also provide tips and tricks on how to create a content marketing process that crosses every ‘t’ and dots every ‘i’.
By the end of reading your guide, each writer should know exactly WHAT to write, WHY they are writing it, and HOW to write it for maximum benefit to your company.
6. Implement the right people and processes to keep the cogs turning
An epic content marketing machine is all about effective time management. Backwards-looking time tracking such as Harvest, and forward-looking workload planning like Asana will help you see where staff are spending their time. This allows you to identify and fill any productivity gaps.
Assigning a trusted team member to be the production manager is a smart way to keep things moving for maximum productivity. Harnessing regular check-in points allows you to identify any problems that may arise, providing the opportunity to pivot your strategy if necessary and before you waste too much time or resources.
Depending on the intensity of your strategy and the number of people involved, you may also benefit from using an enterprise level Content Operations Management tool to manage production workflows. Some well-known ones include:
Lastly, but certainly not least, including a checklist everyone completes before proceeding to the next stage. This will reduce the back and forth and multiple revisions that come with many different team members working on content. Your checklist can include reviewing typos, grammar, plagiarism, and other items that are in line with your objectives, such as your call to action and tone of voice.
7. Get Your Content In Front Of Your Audience
Your content strategy shouldn’t just be about the development of high-quality content, but also the promotion of it.
If content lives in a forest and nobody sees it, did it make a sound?
Leverage your content across all channels. You have worked hard to create this, so milk it! If it’s an article on your website blog, post it across your social channels, send it to your database, and consider adding it to your advertising or remarketing strategies.
In a saturated online market, we’ll help you get noticed on the channels and social media platforms that matter most to your target customer. This may include paid and free promotions, PR, partnerships, and more. All customised to your specific content, target market, and business objectives. This stage is just as important as the content creation itself.
Make sure your content is accessible from the relevant places on your website. If you’ve created a piece talking about a specific service you offer, include a link to the article on the relevant service page.
You can also repurpose content for multiple channels. For example, videos can be turned into written blogs and vice versa, or you can create infographics from articles. You can even bundle content together as a lead magnet, promote it effectively through digital marketing, and fill your sales funnel.
Lastly, don’t forget about SEO strategies. This includes submitting your content to search engines for indexing so it is easier to find, and employing white-hat backlinking strategies to get links to your optimised article. The more quality links, the higher its authority and the better your keyword rankings. All of which leads to more awareness and visibility of your business and more potential for increased customers and revenue.
8. Evaluate Your Results
If you don’t track your progress, how do you know if you’re on the right path? Like every strategy we employ for companies like yours, we will consistently track your results to confirm if you’re heading in the right direction, or if you need to make some changes.
By creating annotations in Google Analytics when certain content was published and promoted, we can relay any organic traffic increases back to events and specific blog posts. You can get a clear picture of your results through tracking your organic search traffic with Google Analytics as well as the position of queries you’re appearing for in Google Search Console. Tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush will help you understand overall search traffic visibility and your keyword rankings .
As part of this, it’s essential you look at the performance of not only your articles, but your website as a whole. Regularly publishing high-quality blog articles with internal links to key pages can bring up the rankings and organic search traffic of those pages. Having conversion tracking set up on your website enables you to see if your content results in conversions like purchases or form submissions. This allows you to assign a return on investment (ROI) against each piece of content.
Does all of this sound appealing, but overwhelming? Don’t worry – our digital experts can help set you up in no time!
Our Top Tips
Find ways to help non-writers get their ideas out
- Get your staff to do their best but have experienced writers and copy editors on hand to help.
- Create a written questionnaire, with a structure that allows people to write their answers and the other team members to top and tail it.
- Conduct recorded video and audio interviews and use a program like SpeechPad or Rev to transcribe it into written text.
Celebrate the wins
- Make sure you show lots of love when people do a great job! This ensures team members stay motivated and energised to tackle the next task!
Want to know our super (not so secret) top tip?
Engage an epic digital marketing agency to implement the process! We can work with you to put in place the right systems, train your team up, and maximise your efficiency and output. While you’re helping your team stay employed, we’ll make sure that the content you are producing will have the revenue-generating benefits you need for your company to stay afloat.
With extensive experience in SEO as well as content marketing management and production, Living Online can help you get there. We will ensure every piece of content being produced is maximised.
By now, you should understand the tremendous amount of value bursting to get out and drive leads for your business.
Instead of ‘dead’ time where staff are not achieving anything, they can be creating pieces of content that show your true business potential and how you can effectively help clients. Not to mention you’ll have an epic team to back your content marketing strategy and bring in leads for the long haul. What’s not to love?
Whether it’s the result of a world-wide economic crisis like COVID-19, or a more localised event, there comes a time when a company like yours can be faced with a downturn in business, leaving your staff with not enough work to do. You don’t want to let your staff members go, but what is your next best option?
Our solution provides you with the perfect opportunity to turn your staff into a content marketing machine designed to add value to your business while keeping them employed.
If you would like to find out more information or are interested in implementing an epic content marketing machine that will boost awareness of your business and in turn generate revenue, please get in touch with us today.