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How agencies can help clients gain efficient content operations

Rob Mills, GatherContent

Have your clients made requests for content without thinking about why?


A short but powerful question that can soon reveal a lack of strategy behind the demands. 

Perhaps questions and ideas like these are familiar:

  • “We should start a blog”
  • “Can we do more on Facebook too?”
  • “Let’s do video” 
  • “Definitely more video”
  • “We need brochures for every service”
  • “I’ve got it … infographics!”

They may all be perfectly reasonable formats and channels for your client to be creating content for and publishing content to, if that’s where their audience and prospects are.

If you’re an agency advising and working with clients, this is an opportunity to start asking why, and really ensure all ideas are validated by a user need and/or a business goal.

The ‘how’ of content creation

Another important question to be asking is how. How will you plan, create, publish and distribute all of this content? 

If it is agreed that a blog, video, infographics, printed collateral, email campaigns, nurturing sequences, eBooks etc are all needed, that’s a lot of content to create; especially if there is a need for high volume and high frequency (as is often the case for marketing content). 

Without dedicated resources and really seeing content as an asset, the issues you and your clients face may include:

  • Content never getting done
  • Content derailing other projects due to time
  • Poor quality content being published
  • Visual, tonal and message-based inconsistencies becoming rife across content

Or, if everyone is onboard and there’s a big push around the website redesign, new blog launch and general enthusiasm for project-based work, it may be that over time those efforts diminish, resources are reallocated, and content starts to slip down the list of priorities. 

This can result in:

  • Social accounts becoming ‘stagnant’
  • Ill-considered content being published and shared in a rush
  • Content being published, but then neglected when it comes to promoting it
  • Out of date/inaccurate content being present across multiple channels

I’ve painted a bleak picture(!), but the reality is that content takes a lot of effort and time, and the right people, processes and technology need to be in place in order to run the real day-to-day operations around content planning, creation and delivery.

Investing in content operations for efficiency

Agencies can support their clients buy helping them establish efficient content operations and by helping them run it effectively.

Investing in the three pillars of content operations (people, process, and technology) can reduce ‘content debt’ and gain efficiencies. 

Here are three ways agencies can work with their clients to achieve this:

1. Define a workflow

Work with your clients to define a content creation workflow. This could be done collaboratively in a workshop, for example. 

Decide every stage content needs to pass through in order to be published. Once you have a process in place, it is then far easier to scale up creation and ensure efficiency as the team grows - and/or as more content is required.

2. Assign clear roles

Once you know what order things need to be done in, the next step is to assign people to each stage of the workflow - so there is always someone accountable for keeping content moving. 

When you do assign roles and responsibilities, make sure it’s done so with clarity. ‘Reviewer’ for example, is ambiguous without further information. For example, would that be the person reviewing spelling and grammar, accuracy, voice and tone etc? Or the person approving the content?

3. Create a content style guide

Scaling content creation increases the risk of errors and inconsistencies. To mitigate against this, you should look to develop a content style guide. This can bring all content creators together around a shared understanding of the rules for content within an organisation. 

A guidance document won’t solve or prevent all the potential issues you face, but it will empower content creators and go some way towards ensuring consistency in the content that’s created.

Scalable and repeatable processes

Content operations is about reducing content debt through establishing a process and using the right technology to automate where possible - ultimately so that people can use their expertise in the right areas; rather than doing the heavy lifting that comes with inefficient ways of working and ill-fitting tools.

Agencies: you have the power to make this happen with (and for) your new and existing clients.

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