Strategy and Innovation

Mapping content workflows for smoother product launches

Every so often, we meet a client who’s going through the process of creating a team from scratch to write, design, and manage their marketing content. Sometimes they ask us to help them think through how these new folks will work together, and what their workflow will look like.

We love doing this, because it helps us, too.

  • A defined content approval process means a more efficient product launch—the client won’t have to worry about sending content from approver to approver to find the right person.
  • A defined approval process also means no worries about “bad” content being published without the proper approvals (yikes!).
  • A maintenance workflow means that the product’s content is more likely to be kept up-to-date and effective, rather than becoming outdated and irrelevant for users.
  • The clearer the client’s workflow, the easier it is for us to configure their content management system (CMS).

So the smoother our client’s content creation and product launch go, the happier we are.

How do we make it happen? By mapping out the client’s content workflow.

Background: The Content Strategy Quad

This situation reminds me of an image I saw floating around the Internet years ago: content quad The Content Strategy Quad

When we think about content, usually we gravitate toward the left side of the Quad: we get excited about the content’s substance, messaging, voice and tone, channels, and even its structure.

What we don’t always think about is the right side of the Quad: “people” components like staffing, maintenance, workflows, and approvals.

The problem is, you can’t have the left side of the Quad without the right. It’s great to have a YouTube channel, for example. But if there’s no one to create videos, your channel is pointless.

Mapping the content workflow

To clarify the content workflow, we conduct a workshop with the client’s Marketing team and other relevant stakeholders (i.e., anyone involved in content creation for the product we’re building).

In that workshop, we ask the client about their planned content workflow. These are some of the questions we ask (sourced from The Content Strategy Toolkit by Meghan Casey):

  • What are the phases?
  • What are the steps in each phase?
  • What happens in each step?
  • Who does this step?
  • What tools will be used to complete this step?
  • How long does this step take to complete?
  • What is the output of this step?

This process is invaluable because it sparks discussions that help the client stakeholders work together to come to a consensus about their roles and responsibilities. After these valuable conversations have concluded, we document our findings.

This documentation can take the form of an annotated flowchart. Here’s a simplified example: content workflow A simple Workflow Diagram

How it helps

After this exercise, the client has a plan for creating content. That makes it easier to onboard new writers, editors, managers, and designers.

With clarity around who needs to see the content, new hires are less likely to publish incorrect content. The client team is more likely to keep content relevant and up-to-date. And of course, our developers are much better positioned to set up the CMS to support the client’s workflow.

Clearly defined workflows help products launch more smoothly. And that means everyone wins.

Planning a product launch? Contact us to chat about how we can help make it smooth and successful.

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