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Cooking Up Great Content? Hire a Soup Taster

Credit: Deloitte Digital

As more and more marketers recognize the power of content to drive brand, engagement, lead generation and advocacy, there's no shortage of content competing for your eight seconds of average mobile attention span. And we all know that what's funny or interesting or inspiring to one person isn't to millions of others swiping through the same feed. As marketers creating thousands of hours of video, newsletters, blogs, white papers and podcasts, how can we make sure our content is good before it's posted?

One client marketer of a major Fortune 100 company asked, "Why does the content my external agency creates outperform the content my in-house team creates by about four to one?" I answered his question with another question, "Well, who's your Soup Taster?"

Perhaps you recall the scene in the endearing Pixar/Disney film "Ratatouille," where the rat Remy secretly makes the soup, which the chef then tastes to determine if it can be brought out and served to the customer in the dining room. When the chef's taste buds tell him it's good, then, and only then, can it be served to the customer.

Your content publishing process should have a similar check in place.

The Content Marketing Institute's 2017 assessment on how brands manage content found that 55% of b-to-b and 49% of b-to-c companies surveyed have just one content person serving the entire organization. In that same study, respondents stated that the success of their program was driven by higher quality output, investing time in content development and placing an overall priority on content marketing. There's a clear disconnect here.

Most times, marketing teams simply have no Soup Taster—no content master chef, no editor-in-chief. Nobody who was a writer before they were a senior writer before they were managing editor, then editor, before they became, well, the Content Soup Taster. Instead, many of us are just publishing lots and lots of content, throwing spaghetti at walls to see what sticks. So we end up creating noise, not engagement.

If you don't have a hierarchy of skilled writers and editors—not just subject matter experts—in place, you are missing out on the valuable editorial process that moves a creative piece from novice to manager to master before it goes to the customer. As we have focused on speed and volume, this has frequently—and unnecessarily—been lost.

The move in agencies and brand marketing departments from campaigns that turn on and off to an "always on" content marketing mindset, calendar and capability takes time. It requires a channel-agnostic brand story idea and system that's big enough and broad enough to generate lots of evergreen content across your paid, owned and earned channels. But without the right craft skills in writing, editing and publishing, you'll have a hard time turning your great ideas into smart, engaging formats that your audience is looking for. That takes writing skill.

My advice? Hire a Soup Taster and empower them to set the bar high for quality content. Many companies are realizing this, and it's become one reason that "brand journalism" has surfaced within many content-savvy marketing departments these days.

In the era of brand journalism, there are plenty of qualified writers, reporters, editors and brand storytellers who know what good reads like. But you've got to invest in it to reap the results.

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