The Pursuit of Enough – Finding How Much Content Your Team Should Produce

Posted 9/9/2015 10:21 AM by Jeff Julian

How much content is enough?  This is the question most content marketing strategist are asked and one of the most difficult to answer.  For Robert Rose, his answer is “the minimal amount of content for the maximum impact.”

Robert is exactly right.  If you produce more content than you need, you are spending too much and limiting profit.  If you create too little, it will take longer and be harder to get the results you want.  So like Goldilocks, we are in the pursuit of finding the amount that is just right.

The problem with just right is its only right, right now.  Next month, quarter and year you will see a change to this amount.  Your audience will grow and shrink, the industry will pivot and the types of content people consume will adjust.  So not only do we need to find our measurement, we need to be able to refresh our calculations over time.

The Groundwork

Several components go into finding this magic number, but some groundwork must be laid.  First, you really need to know your audience and what their goals and problems are.  Second, you need to limit the scope of your message so you have a better chance of standing out.  Third, you need to know what types of content you can produce over time that is highly valuable to the audience.  These are all part of the core definition of content marketing.

Side note: If you are not building content over time and for a specific audience, you are probably executing a campaign and not a content marketing effort.  Campaigns are fine and every good marketing plan has many forms of marketing within it.  However the measurements do not contain the volume of content over time in the equation for a campaign. 

What is your team capable of?

Now you have the groundwork, need to know what your team is capable of to get a base measurement.   You may find out you are producing far too much content and vice versa, not enough content. 

I deploy agile marketing practices of time boxed content development, backlog estimates and a delivery cadence that is sustainable.  Imagine my inner soft-spoken Jim Gaffigan voice coming out at this point, “this guy is crazy, what did he say?”

Ok, let me explain that with a little more detail. 

  • Backlog estimates – To be able to measure what is possible, we need a size to what we want to develop.  Will this article take us a day or 5 days?  Is our team capable of working outside of silos or do we look more like an assembly line?  These answers will help show us how big our current workload is.  Without this number, we are taking a shot in the dark. We will either get into the habit of missing deadlines when we crank up the heat or start losing people because they can’t handle the pressure and hours.  I suggest looking into the practice of Planning Poker® for marketing teams to make estimating fun and gives you a set of numbers you can use for relative sizing.
  • Time boxed content development – Giving our teams time to pull in content and work on it without disruption will give us a better reading of what is possible as well as make our team happier.  I have not heard from one marketer that loves getting non-prioritized requests for content directly.  We all want someone else to manage the backlog and protect us while we deliver on what we said we would do.  The agile process named Scrum gives you the tools you need to roll out this type of work environment and when the roles are played correctly, results will follow.
  • Sustainable pace – We need to know what our team is capable of at a pace that will allow us to continue developing content month after month.  Consistency of content delivery to a targeted audience is our goal. If we crank up the heat and produce more content to meet the expectations, our team will start to fall apart.  Think of it this way, tonight you are going to run a marathon.  That is 26.2 miles!  To do so, change from your work attire and put on some workout cloths.  Go out your front door and start running as fast as you can.  If you make it to the end of the block, congrats, but you are still short of your goal.  Even the most elite runners in the world can run faster than they do during a marathon, but they don’t because they will run out of energy and fail the goal. 

Once you repeat this pattern of estimating and creating content at a pace you can continue in isolation, you will start to see exactly how much content you can produce.  Is that 5 articles a week, 2 articles and 1 podcast, or 1 killer video?  Whatever your content type is, this is your rate of delivery. 

Now, is that the right amount?  Only you will know based off of audience research, statistics, and ROI.  Those numbers are always different in each organization. 

If you find the amount of content needs to be higher to reach the “maximum impact”, look into adding resources from freelancers, agencies or new hires.  Make sure they fit well and are part of the agile practices you deploy. 

On the other hand, if you feel you are producing too much content for this audience, start asking questions like:

  • Is there another audience we need to reach?
  • Can we try alternative content types to prepare for a change in consumption habits?
  • Can some of our team members participate in other marketing activities on the team?
  • Can we spend time making content delivery and measurement more effective?
  • Is our team just too big?

Whatever you find out, remember what is right today might not be right tomorrow.  I really hope you find your rhythm and please reach out if you have any questions about the content discussed in this article.