As an American football fan, I’ve come to love the ups and downs of my team. This year, I got to watch – along with all my Australian friends – the adventures of Jarryd Hayne as the famous rugby player who got his chance to play with the San Francisco 49ers.
It would seem though – as successful as Hayne is – his dream will be cut short as the 49ers released him this week to make room for another player they deem more effective to their chances of success. As a side note, I’m relatively confident Hayne will find a home with another team – or at least end up on San Francisco’s practice squad. I’m actually hoping for another team because I detest the 49ers – but that’s another blog post.
What it reminds me of is the ups and downs of companies as they try to ‘get good’ at content. I’ve recently done a little work for one such organisation, a high-tech consumer-focused company. I was one of a long line of advisors – including at least two analyst firms, a consulting firm and a digital agency – to suggest that this company merge its technical-content and marketing-content teams.
– The analyst firms said the company needed to create a change-management program that enabled many contributors to participate in the content process. Then they would be successful.
– The consulting firm said the company needed to implement new web-content-management infrastructure. The content teams all needed to use the same technology. Then they would be successful.
– The digital agency said the company needed a content hub. The merged content teams could then manage and measure their content from that hub. Then they would be successful.
Let me be clear. None of this advice is necessarily bad on its own. The issue is that this kind of advice gives the impression that after you do X, you’ll be successful. Then you drop the mic and walk off stage.
This couldn’t be more wrong.
Think about the top 20 content initiatives that are consistently named in presentations around the world. You know the ones I’m talking about (cough Red Bull cough General Electric). I will tell you firsthand – having visited with a good number of the people responsible for those initiatives – they worry, just like you. They have to build business cases, just like you. They have big bugs in their site and software, just like you. When their company gets bought, they worry about their job security, just like you. They struggle with silos and politics, just like you.
Success with content isn’t where you are right now. It’s always out in front of you. It’s always evolving. Just like Jarryd Hayne, you’ll have the success and the failures of a strategic process.
Whatever project you’re launching or working on – a content marketing blog, a customer help system, a CMS, a taxonomy – is a step. There is no last step.
When your company’s example pops up on the first slide in some influencer’s presentation about the most coolest, awesomest content strategies in the world, you’ll wink at the person next to you and say, “If people only knew.”
In fact, that’s what keeps us going. As another great American footballer, J. J. Watt, once said, “Success isn’t owned; it’s leased. And you pay rent every day.”
Time to pay the rent.