Marketing Keeps Missing The Secret Content Sauce

Marketing Keeps Missing The Secret Content Sauce

When I find myself with free time, I cook. It’s another form of storytelling that keeps my husband and kids happy. I like to innovate, and try different ingredients, but mess up the base of a dish and all the effort ends up in the bin, so it pays to be confident with the fundamentals before adding my own spin.

The same is true at work, except, the recipes for success are decidedly more complex. Marketing continues to transform, adding more digital platforms, services and applications to the mix. The result can be super tasty services that the business delights in consuming, but in the stack, as in the kitchen, it’s essential to get the base right.

A simple recipe to follow is to start with content, add standards, and plate on your platform of choice once fully baked. Content is the secret sauce; the foundation that informs platform intelligence and behaviour. And it is the stock that flavours the user experience. This is one of the reasons why Atlassian employs a multitude of content designers.

Yet, it is common for content to be overlooked and then added in with haste right at the end of the platform adoption process. Platform providers we work with note that customer success is inhibited because of this, so why does it happen?

Rookie cooking

Much like an inexperienced home chef taking on something new for the first time, it’s easy to underestimate how much effort goes into an effective preparation. Corners get cut and adaptations are made in an effort to compensate for a lack of technique.

Audit aversion

An essential element in supporting the successful adoption of Martech platforms or the migration from one to another, yet there’s an automatic and collective shudder at the prospect of one.

Audits are viewed as unnecessary administration and a needless cost, and they also are often trivialised in the “how hard can that be” sense.

Subjective assessment

Delegate various tranches of material to team members with a request to “read it and tell me if it is any good”.

Digital bias

Limit the view to metrics. This can result in compelling content getting tossed out when underperformance may simply be a matter of format, length or visual presentation.

It also means content that is not generated and distributed by marketing gets left out because the majority of it is not tracked in any meaningful way.

Stay in the marketing bubble

Instead of understanding how to improve the experience of internal and external audiences, place an emphasis on accelerating campaigns and generating more content.


How long is it likely to take to prepare content before each is properly assessed and mapped, ready to upload to a new system?

At just an hour per piece, this can quickly turn into weeks or months of work. Factor these calculations into timelines and budgets to avoid getting burned.

Awesome sauce as a service

There is method and technique involved in getting it right, and while practice doesn’t always make perfect, it does make it more familiar.

Structuring high volumes of content takes time and labour, but it can be done with efficiency if you can adhere to a solid methodology. For instance, with one major customer we prepared 800 pieces of content for a platform pilot in just three weeks, following the methodology below:

1. Collect, curate, centralise.Bring all the content together and give it a clear, consistent structure. The broader that view of content, the better – covering not just marketing, but also sales, customer success, service or support functions.

2. Quality assessment framework. Define clear and objective standards of what good content looks like. These standards are essential if you want to triage content to actual go-to-market objectives, with the right brand voice. Effective standards help marketers know and agree on what content they can use, how to maximise its value, and what they can throw away.

3. Triage A robust triage process takes those objective measures and produces a visual heat map of all the content that is rock solid, the things that need a little touching up to be great and what to trash.

4. Map and gap. The buyer journey is hygiene. Comprehensive journey maps should cover marketing, buyer, sales, customer and service. This process will highlight where your business is light on for the kind of materials, assets and information needed to serve every stage.

5. Minimum viable content programme maps. Output visual guides that illustrate the suite of content that should be in place before launching a campaign. Not every marketer is a content marketer so democratise content know-how. Feed all touch-points, from acquiring audiences to supporting customer onboarding, and you’ll get better production briefs as a result.

A taste of the future

Content forms the base for not just current, but also future recipes in your marketing cookbook. For example, deploying AI for content production. If you want machines to produce quality material, you need a system that gives them an objective standard of “good content”. Without that standard, and the journey mapping and structuring that supports it, all you’ll get is high speed trash.

Get the fundamentals in place, ensure you’ve enough “secret sauce” to inform your new platform and make it easier for more parts of your business to identify, locate and correctly use top-notch content, and you’ll be better placed to add all sorts of new ingredients in future.

Written by Samantha Marks