My content performance philosophy and how teams can implement it

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When it comes to content, let’s be honest: It’s never been harder. We expect content to do something for our businesses. We want it to drive results – directly or indirectly.

Content performance cultures were not a thing when I started in journalism. Content performed when your boss liked your articles and nobody complained about them.

Today, content must show ROI of some kind. So how do we get there or at least have a chance to? My 5 pillars of a content performance cultures can help your and my teams be on the right road. The pillars are:

  • A content performance culture
  • Innovation by all
  • Next play mentality
  • Right players in the right seats
  • Ongoing evaluation

I dive deeper into each in the podcast below. Or you can just keep reading.

An embraced content performance culture

Content performs when comtent teams know their personas, the best syndication channels and keep producing content that the target audience wants to consume.

Content only can perform when you know what the goal should be. This could range from:

  • Communication success for internal communications measured by feedback
  • Pageviews for content publishers
  • New and more users for product sites
  • Content that drives SEO to get product pages to rank

At the very least leadership and teams need to be clear what the goals are and to be able to brainstorm on ways to reach them.

And then the teams go after their goals on the right interval. For example, in digital that may be daily. With a monthly newsletter, it’s monthly and so on.

Of course, with digital analytics, we can look constantly.

Did they go up?



10 more minutes.

It can even be obsessive. I love the mobile WordPress app stats function that buzzes me when an unusual spike is occurring. That way I know when something is really taking off.

Innovation by all

Innovation comes in many forms and really every role on a team can be innovative on its own level.

Front line staff can catch workflow things that need to be updated with a new strategy in mind. i’m still thankful to this day when a front line employee told me about an issue with a stated strategy. It was something I would’ve never known without getting the word from somebody who was working on it daily.

Managers can keep looking for bottlenecks and other issues in implementation of a strategy as well.

Executive sponsors can push new innovative technologies and allow team members to try new things. And of course they can be as clear as possible about a stated strategy and open to questions.

Of course, strategies don’t just come from the top in a truly matrixed innovative model.

Everyone can share ideas AND build on each other. Pixar and Disney have called this plussing.

  • Idea is presented
  • Others build on it. Or at least try.

Not all ideas are good ones and some initial ideas that are terrible turn into winners once they are verbalized and plussed.

Sure, innovation should happen within an overarching strategy and framework, but everyone can participate and should.

Share what you think can help a content and marketing team move forward and drive content performance.

Next play mentality

This definitely came from my decade of playing competitive football in Europe and the United States.

What do players do?

  • They run a play
  • Something good happens on that play. Or something bad.
  • Either way, they are running the next play in a moment.

Content teams really need this as well. Something works now. And then something changes. An algorithm upgrades updates. A social media strategy changes. No matter what. Try strategies. Share good stories and use the current tools to push them to people.

I know some expert say “would people miss your content if it wasn’t there?” The real problem is they may not even realize it for a while.

There’s just too much content and too many channels for any consumer to keep track. Even myself as a marketer who likes to believe he has the finger on the pulse it’s sometimes easy to miss when I’m missing something.

I also want people to miss my content, but I’m probably just one of 250 emails today. That’s why it’s important to keep trying new things, building audience and keep going.

Next play also means that we give teammates the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t mean to do that. Or they didn’t realize that created unnecessary work for a teammate. Communication matters here.

Next play also means to not fret on mistakes … too long. Sure, see if there’s something that can be learned and applied to the next play that’s good. Then run the next play.

Right players in the right seats

Certainly there are some standard roles that content teams should have. Every team needs people who can write and who write the right kind of content.

Related: And who should be the digital analyst? Answer revealed here.

As they say, great teams are made up of members that complement – and sometimes compliment – each other. All kidding aside, great content teams compliment each other frequently.

Great story.

Great angle.

Super info graphic


Public compliments can be even better within a company. Consider posting a weekly shoutout to highlight some of the great things employees have done in the previous week.

Leaders can participate, too.

In addition to the basic storytelling skills, I find these useful on teams:

    Fast and clear communicators
  • Can-do attitude
  • Interest in learning new things, like virtual reality video, for example
  • Tester mentality – let’s see if this strategy will help me reach my goal faster

Complementing comes into play when you have a team of five and three are really good writers and one is a really good video shooter/ editor and one is a really good distribution strategist. For example. That could be successful team.

Sometimes, teams have the right people but they aren’t always in the right seats or positions.

Ongoing evaluation

The set it and forget it strategy is not something I would recommend here. Content distribution is so dependent on other companies nowadays. Think Google with search, social media with shrinking organic reach and even podcast distribution. Video platforms, too. Our content rises and falls based on what those other companies decide. Of course, we can pay for paid promotions but even those fall under those rules.

Content strategy

So content strategies are definitely one part here. They change and often quickly. Keep and eye on them and adjust things on the fly. This is one reason why I typically would recommend to have at least one good strategist on any team. Somebody has to somewhat keep up with all the changes.

Google Search Console is one way to keep track. Google Analytics is another way to see what’s driving traffic to your site. This may very well be the easiest way to use Google Analytics – voice commands and all.

Workflows, etc.

Workflows are an ever evolving piece, too. What worked 10 years ago and may have been the best way then may not be the best way today.

Let’s take podcasts. Back in the day, they were recorded in studios. That’s fine and still happens today. But there are also ways to record them with one app, even with remote people, edit and publish.

Writing can happen on computers, phones and iPads now. You may be typing on a screen, voice dictating or swiping. I’m not a fan of the swiping yet, but let’s give it some time.

We may not love all new workflows and technologies but some end up sticking. And of course when we continuously evaluate things we can find new ways to be more efficient with our time and efforts and drive more results quicker. Without driving ourselves crazy.

So there are my five pillars to marketing and content projects and organization. Like anything in our field, they are subject to evolve, but can help us set ourselves up to be more successful.

Don’t miss my new book

Move your content from happening to performing. The 2020 textbook: