If you’re like many executives, you started small with your content efforts. You enjoyed some benefits such as more traffic from the right people or a boost in sales the way our client FootSmart did. Now, you might be asking questions such as:

  • How do I get these benefits all the time?
  • How do we scale our approach to content?
  • How do we operationalize our content approach well?
  • How do we make the most of our investment in content?

The answer? You need to mature your content practice. Over my many years of consulting, I’ve identified four basic levels of content maturity. Let’s walk through them so you can gauge in more detail where you are now and where you aspire to go. 

1. Piloting

One of your teams successfully released a blog or changed your product content or planned a content-focused campaign or launched a similar small content effort.

  • Have you successfully launched a small content effort?
  • Are you seeing results, such as a boost in sales or sales leads, from your small content effort?

2. Scaling

You’re taking lessons learned from your pilot and extending them to other products, brands, channels, and teams. You’re investing more budget in content-related efforts and developing a broader vision for what content can do for your organization.

  • Are you developing a broader vision for content at your organization?
  • Have you won more budget to invest in content efforts?
  • Are you applying lessons learned from your piloting phase to other brands, channels, products, teams, or areas of the customer experience?
  • Are you winning over more stakeholders? 

3. Sustaining

You’re solidifying your practice into a sustainable content foundation. You’re automating and streamlining content processes, governing your content voice and quality standards, and implementing an evaluation plan.

  • Are you investigating how marketing and content automation can make your approach more efficient?
  • Are you establishing content guidelines and tools to make your content approach easy and efficient to repeat?
  • Are you developing a plan to evaluate your content approach in terms of big goals and small indicators that you’re progressing toward those goals?

4. Thriving and Innovating

Your foundation is staying strong, so you’re experimenting with specialized content campaigns, new formats, and advanced techniques such as personalization. You’re evaluating results, so you see boosts to your sales, satisfaction, and more. Your teams have the agility to respond to content problems and opportunities quickly.

  • Is your approach to sustaining running smoothly, so you’re free to experiment with new content approaches, formats, and techniques?
  • Do your teams have the right processes and technology in place to support agility? Can they respond to problems, such as customer concerns, and opportunities quickly?
  • Is your evaluation showing progress toward your goals or achievement of your goals? Are you seeing boosts to your reputation, earned media, sales or sales leads, and customer satisfaction?

At what level is your organization now? What level do you aspire to reach? How will you reach that level?

Enter content strategy.

One way I view content strategy is as a plan to take you from your current level to a new level. As you start to plan for 2016, consider whether you have that strategy and, if not, how you will get it. And fast. I find that in both business and content today, if you aren’t working toward innovation, you’re falling behind.

The Author

Colleen Jones is the founder and CEO of Content Science, a growing content intelligence and strategy company based in Atlanta GA. Content Science owns Content Science Review, Content Science Academy, and the content effectiveness software ContentWRX.  Colleen regularly consults with executives and practitioners to improve their strategy and processes for content. She shares insights and guidance from her experience regularly on Content Science Review, at events around the world, and in highly rated books such as Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

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