I’ve been asking myself this question a lot recently. What do I do next? It’s something we’re all facing. At work, at home, raising and teaching children, staying safe, getting supplies, supporting families, checking in on friends, trying to help our community, trying to not get too bored, attempting to stay fit, etc. The one constant these days seems to be uncertainty.
What is going to happen next? How long is this going to last?
We don’t know.
What we do know is that business as usual does not exist.
The plans you had a month ago are out the window. Your challenges have shifted from normal operations to supporting your team and taking care of physical and mental health while also trying to keep your business running amongst this fear and uncertainty.
It’s a lot to deal with.
We wanted to provide some ideas about where you might want to focus during these times.
This post is not about tips on working from home (although we do have some ideas on that as well), it’s about looking at our businesses and adjusting resources to provide the most long-term benefit.
Before we look at some specific ideas for projects, it’s important to remember that now is the time to be kind. With yourself. With your team. With your customers. With everyone. It is not the time to push hard with short-term deadlines. Providing flexibility for changing schedules and childcare realities is more important than ever.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for projects that might work during this time and pay off for a long time.
Many marketers have to drive quick-turnaround campaigns. If your business has revenue coming in and some cash in the bank, now can be a time for longer term planning.
Conduct a Content Audit
This is a perfect example of something we should do more often but just never find the time. A content audit will help you identify everything you have, how it is performing, and where there are gaps that need to be filled. The process will help provide you with the right information for developing or enhancing your content strategy moving forward.
Here are the basic steps.
1. Set goals
There are many reasons to do a content audit, and you should be clear about why you are doing it. You may want to do a content audit of your web properties to make sure things are optimized for SEO. Or you might look to do the audit to make sure that your different customer types have the right kind of content.
2. Identify content
With clear goals in mind, you should identify all of your content. Web properties, brand content, creative, sales material, etc. If you cannot easily find all of your content, then organizing it first may be an important project to start. See below for some ideas on how to get everything organized.
3. Categorize content
With your content identified, determine the different types and purposes of the content. Where does this content go? How is it used? Who is it for? By categorizing it, you may uncover opportunities. For example, you may find that one important type of buyer doesn’t have much content tailored for them.
Depending on your goals and the types of content to analyze, your analysis can take different forms. It may be using analytical tools like Google Analytics to measure traffic and engagement, other tools to measure ad performance, or surveys and interviews to get feedback from your team (for example, “everyone loves this slide” is useful qualitative data from your sales team).
When you understand what you’re hoping to do, what content you have, and how it is performing, you will also know where you can make improvements and where you can fill gaps.
There can be a lot of work in each of these general steps, so here are some articles with more in-depth recommendations for conducting an audit:
(Re) Evaluate Your Content Strategy
Evaluating your content strategy can be a natural part of a broader content audit, but you may want to (or need to) do it without a full audit. Remember, what was true in February is likely not true now. If your planned content would come off flat, or worse, as completely tone deaf or insensitive during this time of crisis, you’ll need to make changes. Things that seemed perfectly playful and entertaining at the beginning of the year could be non-starters now.
A deep dive into what you have been saying and what you want to be saying so that you can be sure to have a clear, consistent, and resilient story moving forward can be particularly useful now.
Develop Long Form Content
Longer content often performs well, and continues to perform well for a long time. But, it’s harder to create. That’s why we often don’t do it. It takes more time and more research. You might have some of that time now.
If budgets are in flux, events cancelled, and other projects on hold, it can’t hurt to do a little organizing. It’s one area that can always pay you back in the long run.
Clean Up Your Stuff
Projects for organizing things or cleaning up things always get pushed off. The common response is “We’ll get to it someday, but there is more important stuff to do right now.” Well, now might be someday!
Are your files scattered across a dozen systems, sitting as email attachments, or even on a thumbdrive that you can’t seem to remember where you saw it last? If the answer is yes, then it’s a good time to get everything in one place so you know what you have and you know where it is.
This is also where digital asset management (DAM) can come into play. A DAM system will allow you to centralize all of your files in one place and provide the right access to the right people for the content they need. With everything in one place, organized in a way that makes sense, and with appropriate tags and descriptions, your team and partners will save time and be much more effective working with your content.
A first step is finding what you have and where it is. We’ve created a guide with a more detailed process but the main steps of mapping your organization’s content are:
1. Survey your team
2. Follow up with questions
3. Keep a record
4. Get it all in one place
It takes time, but putting in that work and using the right tool will save you hours every day in the near future. People asking you where things are will end, and so will endless searches trying to track things down.
Even if you decide not to use a digital asset management system, doing the work of centralizing all your files will help your team. A neatly organized shared server is much better than content scattered across many systems.
Make Things Easier to Find
This often goes hand-in-hand with getting things centralized. If things are scattered they are hard to find and use. If they are centralized, the chances of finding what you need are better, but it doesn’t solve it all. To make content really easy to find, you have to have a good organizational structure, the right information associated with the content, and easy ways for the right people to get what they need.
If you use a simple file management tool, your best bet is to work on a folder structure that is simple and makes sense for your team. Use common-sense terms for naming most folders, and only use specialized business terms if they are understood by everyone on your team. Acronyms one person might use may cause confusion for others.
If you have a digital asset management system, you can work on some additional changes (and get your DAM vendor involved for help!). Folder structures might need a refresh. The information associated with your content, the metadata, is the area that can help improve the findability of your content, so take a look at the fields, descriptions, and tags you use and see if they still make sense for how your team operates. Here’s a short guide on metadata schema that can help.
And don’t forget to look at your users and what they have access to. How can you make it easier for your partners, retailers, and sales reps to get the content they need? Things are slow in many industries right now, and when things begin to turn around, these folks will need information and content. What can you do to help them? Self-service permissions, pre-built Collections, and easier searching will all make a difference.
It is important to stay engaged and keep learning. Developing new skills is always important, and can be useful in your current work or even more needed if economic circumstances change.
Things can seem dire, and finding ways to maintain engagement and curiosity can be some of the most helpful and hopeful work you can do. This might mean traditional professional development through classes, books, and virtual conferences in your particular field. It could be reading or collaborating in areas outside your specialty. It may mean learning entirely new skills or volunteering to help your community. Do what you can to keep growing. And if you are a leader at your company, make sure you allow and encourage this time for your team.
There’s another side to education as well, and that’s teaching. Depending on your industry, many companies may find acquiring new customers becoming a lot harder, and customer retention even more important. This is especially true for B2B businesses. To help both aspects of your business, new sales and existing customers, more education may make the difference. Help your existing customers get more out of your product or services with guides, courses, and other material that provides the information they need to be successful. This same content can be used to help your sales team with new customers as well. If the top of the funnel shows signs of slowing, having better tools for the middle and bottom of the funnel will be key.
We hope that these ideas may be useful as you navigate this time, but more than anything, we hope that you are safe and healthy.