Getting Started With a Content Governance Plan

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We live in the throes of the attention economy — the capacity for people to engage with many competing factors in their environments that require focus. Attention is a finite resource that humans have a limited capacity of. It’s a persistent challenge and opportunity for reps to cut through all the distractions and reach potential customers at precisely the right time.

A buyer’s time is precious at every stage of the customer journey. When it comes to interacting with sales reps, buyers want to feel that their time is respected, and they want insights to be impactful in helping them make informed decisions on what to invest in and why. Misguided, outdated, or irrelevant messaging can jeopardize the customer experience, leaving buyers confused and reps frustrated.

The urgency to equip reps with the most helpful tools and information is real for enablement professionals. It can be a lot to keep track of sales activities across teams and maintain potentially numerous variations of customer-facing content. Content governance is the structure and framework that supports the processes companies exercise to manage content and determine how to create, publish, and maintain it.

“I think one of the biggest challenges with enablement is keeping up,” said Marcela Piñeros, head of sales enablement at Stripe. “Keeping up with the demand to generate content, keeping up with the demand to update it, the demand to avoid skill fade, to future proof an organization, it’s a lot. Essentially, any content governance strategy needs to ensure that materials that the field can access have three qualities: that they’re current, they’re accurate and that they add value.”

A solid content governance plan helps provide guardrails for the people responsible for owning and updating content, as well as direction for those executing an organization’s overall content strategy to strengthen customer experiences.

Learn below why a content governance plan is critical for any size of an organization and three essential steps of creating a sustainable strategy.

Establish a Content Workflow and Structure

A business’ content strategy aims to resonate and engage the right audience that aligns with the company’s overarching goals and objectives, ideally creating long-lasting buyer relationships. Governing that content ensures that every piece of messaging or material that the customer comes across reflects the most relevant information the company wants the customer to know.

Ensuring content is ready for reps at the right time starts with a purposeful process. The first step in establishing a comprehensive content governance plan is to design a structure that maps out how content connects to various parts of the business, the strategy behind planning that content, creating and reviewing it, and finally sharing it with current and prospective customers.

“I encourage everybody to get off the hamster wheel, shift away from being a content generation function and focus on what processes you can put in place to be a content curation function,” said Piñeros.

Designing the content workflow that aligns well with the organization’s goals requires a breakdown of each of the workflow elements to help determine consistency. A workflow helps to maintain a standard procedure on how to address specific issues like content delays, inconsistent branding or messaging, or even legal and compliance issues.

Define the Roles and Responsibilities

Governance goes beyond content creation by empowering people within the sales organization to maintain brand integrity, keeping content aligned with what matters most to the company and what will land correctly with customers.

“It’s working together to determine what the appropriate bill of materials is for a different product or industry; it’s working together to ensure a consistent, high-quality curated environment. Everybody takes a role in that,” said Eric Andrews, vice present of growth marketing at TriNet. “Before an asset gets posted, we work with a content creator to make sure that it’s on-brand. We then will check every link to make sure that those links all work, we’ll check the legal disclaimers, and we’ll check everything. It’s all about trying to create a high-quality environment. I think everybody has a responsibility for that.”

The responsibilities of those dedicated to enforcing content governance could include a variety of different roles, such as:

  • Content strategists: Establish the overarching content strategy, planning, process, and ideation
  • Writers and editors: Produce content relevant to a particular audience
  • Analysts: Enable data-driven decisions on content that elevate insights, metrics, reporting, and more
  • Subject matter experts: Provide expertise and review throughout the content production process

It can be helpful to drill down into each of the roles related to the overarching content strategy by specifying if the function is strategic (content strategists), tactical (writers and editors), or specialist (analysts or subject matter experts). The more specific the roles and responsibilities are, the more influential the governance plan can be in helping to delegate the work appropriately among team members to drive efficiency.

Ensure Accountability With Guidelines and Standards

After establishing the structure and roles of the governance plan, now is the time to enact it. The cyclical nature of the content means that maintaining, updating, removing, or managing an organization’s content requires dedicated time and resources. A content governance model provides a framework for all stakeholders to access to drive alignment.

Consider including specific guidelines that detail the following:

  • Style: Define brand voice, tone, and style guidelines to maintain brand consistency.
  • Editorial: Map out content creation standards to keep the team aligned on requirements for any new or updated content.
  • Channels: Outline which channels to use for what content and when.
  • Accessibility: Define standards to ensure that content can be easily found and digested in a variety of formats in compliance with accessibility standards.
  • Legal: Ensure content is in compliance with legal standards.
    Content Templates: Include any materials that can help those creating and updating content easily maintain structure and organization.
  • Project Management: Outline the tools that stakeholders can use to keep track of timelines and processes to maintain content on a regular basis.

By creating a document that outlines the new standards and procedures for an organization’s content governance, enablement teams can help streamline questions, avoid confusion, and mitigate challenges that may arise when managing content. Enablement teams can consider, in addition to official documentation, holding regular meetings with internal stakeholders and executive leadership to walk through why the standards are in place, how to accurately leverage them, and open up conversations to gain clarity across the organization.

“Part of the governance piece I think that needs to be solved is making sure that the people who are contributing are delivering it in a way that is easy for users to understand and take in,” said Chris Wrenn, senior manager of experience delivery at Adobe. “It’s not just that we’ve got our one-stop-shop for this small-scoped area that we are concerned about. Somebody is mining the whole shop and understanding how to get content from point A to point B in the most effective way.”

Content governance is not a barrier to success; it encourages the success of any content strategy. With the proper checks and balances, a content governance plan can help enablement teams feel confident that reps are using content that grabs the attention of the right customer and further drives more efficiency within the sales cycle.

Download our checklist to start building your content governance plan below.

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