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Remember when you worked for a company that seemingly took four forever's to commit to a course of action or to grant approval for a project? Head, meet desk. Sap on the bark of a Vermont maple in January had nothing on them.

Indecision, internal power squabbles, poor protocols, and fear of finishing and "shipping" can paralyze some companies from making gains with their marketing initiatives. But planning a content marketing program doesn't have to resemble the complexity of an IRS schedule or an IKEA furniture instruction manual for it to be effective and sustainable.

Serious about championing a content marketing program at your slow-moving company? Then target the space between spaghetti-on-the-wall and let's-name-a-committee-to-look-into-that. And though you can't ignore or balk at ingrained company culture, you can open minds with a documented, well-considered approach and effective communication.

Below are some high-level tips for instituting a content marketing program at your company. If you don't already work using an agile marketing methodology, I recommend that you consider adopting and adapting a couple of useful elements—a scrum board and weekly standup meetings—before embarking on this project.

Prepare your backstop

  1. Solicit an executive sponsor and formalize regular briefings.
  2. Identify and affirm content program priorities, and tie each to corporate business objectives.
  3. Establish a firm timeline for collecting stakeholder input. Commit to hearing and considering input before filtering it through the priorities and objectives noted in step 2; retain what input fits, and respectfully shelve what doesn't.

Shine light on the project

  1. Announce the program companywide. Secrecy, or otherwise working in the dark, breeds dissension rather than support.
  2. Benchmark current data points; movement from the status quo will inform future decisions.
  3. Be transparent about progress. Consider setting up a centrally located scrum board so team members and others alike can stay abreast of the project's scope. Even before there's anything significant to share.

Organize and document information

  1. Assemble files on what's happening in your space. What are the top 3-5 competitors in your space talking about on their blogs, social channels, and in marketing literature? Look for patterns, find common hooks or themes, claims, and other toeholds. Are there vulnerabilities that are your company's natural strengths? Note your opportunities as well as areas of weakness.
  2. Perform an audit of your company's online and offline content assets and sales-enablement support. Make note of the gaps.
  3. Reflect on the progressive phases of a customer's journey: Buy, Own, and Advocate. Between your audit of existing material and what you plan to create new, be sure to support customers at each of those stages.

Put pain points center stage

  1. Interview Sales and Customer Service. What are common complaints? Choke points? What needs are currently unfulfilled? What are competitors doing well? What problems need solving?
  2. Figure out what stories your company needs to tell. People are drawn to brands with a compelling genesis, and to those transparent about their growth quest or failures. Battle scars and fist pumps reflect genuine humanity and give prospects every reason to believe in your brand.
  3. Conduct some simple user testing of your website. Are site visitors able to quickly and easily navigate to topics and resources you specify? Is the information digestible and does it evoke feelings of confidence and trust?

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image of Heather Rast

Heather Rast is a writer, digital marketer, and project pro. She is also senior content manager for MarketingProfs University.

LinkedIn: Heather Rast