Nothing is more anxiety-producing than not having control of your own future. It’s true for most of us, but for some people their futures and the way their performance is viewed is totally out of their hands. For example, would you be comfortable if, of all the work you did, only 30 percent of it was ever used by the others in your company? Of course not – and you’d be concerned that your role was in danger.Content Manager

But that’s exactly what content managers face, according to Sirius Decisions. A study recently revealed that 60 to 70 percent of all content created sits unused, and the real numbers can be even higher. In one example cited on Sirius Decisions’ blog, CDW shared that a recent project to consolidate three sales portals into one revealed that 93 percent of all content produced or stored in the portals went unused.

Meanwhile, companies are shoveling cash at content creation. According to MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute, 70 percent of marketers are creating more content today than last year. Starfleet Media’s research found that a third of the companies they surveyed reported spending more than half of their marketing budgets on content marketing during the past 12 months; 16 percent (compared to only 10 percent the previous year) say they spent more than 70 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing.

That’s a lot of money spent, and only a third of it is getting used. Is there any doubt why content managers might feel like they have targets painted on their backs?

The problem isn’t really the content manager. The content is being created, at a record pace and with greater strategic thinking applied to it than ever before. The problem is what happens after that content is created.

Many companies have implemented no structure or system for getting the right content in sales’ hands when sales needs it. That’s the reason for that disastrous usage percentage: content is created, and then, essentially, lost within the business because of a failure to provide a structure for it.

Structure is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes sales enablement work. It allows sales reps to find what they need fast – it’s like the organization of shelves in the library, where things are grouped in a sensible way so they can be located quickly. However, for reasons that are painfully clear, it often goes ignored until the structure problem begins to crush the ROI of other enablement investments.

Structure tends to be ignored in favor of two areas that bookmark it in the sales content process. Content creation is the most visible part of the process; it results in a visible product to share with prospects and customers, and so commands plenty of attention. But In many companies, content is a rapidly-perishable commodity: it stays fresh as long as it’s fresh in sales’ minds. Once it slips from the forefront, or is displaced by newer, fresher content, it’s as if it didn’t exist. And then, a few weeks or months later, when a need arises for similar content, instead of drawing on existing resources a new version of the same content may be created. Unless you have a structure to find what you need, you may end up paying to have the same material written again and again.

That’s expensive. At $600 per content item, if a company with 2,000 content items has 70 percent of them unused, that's a waste of $840,000 per year on unused content. That wasted content also competes for attention with high-value content. When it comes to sales, more content is not always “more.”

The other bookend is delivery and adoption. Some businesses have shifted focus toward devices and technologies to encourage salespeople to more actively engage with the content. This is important, but without paying attention to structure they’ll only end up frustrating the sales force faster.

Someone is going to take the fall for this: your content manager. With a growing budget and a swelling library of content, he has resources at his fingertips – yet sales isn’t using the material his team is creating and ROI is plummeting. It may not be his fault, but he is likely to end up squarely in the crosshairs.

That’s unfortunate, because putting a structure in place to organize content, measure its effectiveness, and serve it to sales based on the prospect’s demographics and stated needs can reverse the usage problem and turn up the ROI almost instantly. First, you can examine the numbers around content usage – is 60-70 percent going unused because it’s not good, or because it’s hard to locate? Once you make it readily accessible, you can make a legitimate evaluation (of the content and the content manager), and it you may discover you can reduce spending on content. You can certainly cull the old and unused content, and you can use scoring to promote content that’s proven to work. And you can increase the amount of time sales spends selling by slashing the amount of time sale reps spend searching for and creating content from scratch.

Next, your delivery and adoption issues will be improved. With a solid structure, usage both on desktops and mobile devices should climb. Again, you’ll have a better view of the performance of your now-unfettered content and you can make decisions based on reality. You can also take this to the next level – if your enablement structure is sound, you can shift from sales finding content to content finding sales when sales needs it most.

But until you tackle the structure problem, you have no way to get the right content in to sales’ hands when they need it, and you have no realistic way to evaluate that content. And with no way to evaluate the effectiveness of your content, a sword hangs over your content manager’s head – which is no way to reward someone for their hard work.

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