6 Tips for Building a Successful Content Factory

The rise of specialized medicine has prompted a demand for more specialized content. Doctors expect life sciences companies to provide them with personalized and educational resources to better understand these therapies.

Marketing and brand teams are now tasked with creating larger amounts of materials, faster- which requires more than just bigger teams and budgets.

To sustain such fast-growing content initiatives, many companies have drawn inspiration from the world of manufacturing, evolving their content creation processes to full-on content factories.

Much in the same way that manufacturing relies on efficient, repeatable processes to quickly assemble final products, the content factory model involves forming quality assets from an existing set of building blocks.

Launching a successful content factory model also relies upon further streamlining all the processes that surround content creation – planning, MLR review, multichannel distribution, and more.

To help you get started, here are six tips for building a content factory.

1. Define Your Top KPIs

Before you begin, determine your core goals. Are you looking to accelerate the time to market for new content? Are you hoping to increase content reuse, or save money on content creation? While you may be interested in achieving all of these objectives, think about which metric is most important to your team and what is feasible to achieve in a defined timeframe.

You should also track content performance metrics once content leaves the internal factory. Take a look at content use and consumption by channel. Are customers consuming your content, and are the messages relevant? Understanding whether your materials resonate with customers will determine how you evolve your content factory strategy going forward.

Some KPIs are more difficult to quantify because they don’t have obvious numerical measurements. Common examples include team satisfaction (did the content factory produce what the brand was asking for?) and process satisfaction (is everyone working well together?).

You can gather qualitative feedback in multiple ways, such as quarterly meetings or online surveys. Taking this qualitative feedback into account along with the quantitative measures will help improve the content factory over time.

2. Consider What Content Reuse Means to You

Many companies launch content factories to increase content reuse. But, reuse often means something different to everyone.

Determine what definition of reuse most aligns with your company’s goals:

  • Reuse of different content types: you can track reuse for both composite materials (an advertisement used on a web and printed brochure) and component pieces (an image used in multiple composite materials.
  • Reuse across the globe: if your company operates in different countries, you can track whether teams share and reuse materials across regions. In most cases, organizations with a global-to-local content reuse strategy establish global content “hubs” that produces materials for local markets to localize and translate.
  • Reuse between local markets: content doesn’t always need to originate in the central hub – teams can also make use of local-to-local reuse. Local teams should also share updates with the global hub in case the materials can be shared globally.

3. Develop Standard Taxonomy and Metadata

In order to maintain an efficient global content factory, your team must speak the same language – particularly when it comes to your content’s taxonomy and metadata.

As a quick refresher, taxonomy describes the process of classifying information into groups with similar characteristics. Metadata, on the other hand, is the data about your documents – document name, date created, type, etc.

A simple way to illustrate the importance of taxonomy and metadata standards is to consider tagging. An asset tagged as a “video” in one market should not be called an “animation” in another region.

Establishing a successful taxonomy and metadata framework starts with defining clear naming conventions that you reinforce through user training. Once the standards are solidified, you should monitor how well your team is adhering to these rules. That way, you can address any inconsistencies and retrain those who aren’t following the conventions.

You also need to ensure content creators can quickly and easily find assets when searching and filtering documents. Doing so will help drive reuse – teams that can easily access content are more likely to reuse materials instead of creating something from scratch.

It’s important to set the right permissions so users have access to the content they need. Be sure to maintain links between component pieces and composite assets. This gives the team the ability to trace where content is already in use and provides a holistic view of the content ecosystem.

4. Determine the Role of Your Librarian(s)

Librarians are critical in maintaining smooth day-to-day operations of the content factory. They act as the gatekeepers and quality-checkers by making sure that your content building blocks have all the necessary data and comply with usage rights.

Every organization leverages librarian expertise in a different way. The good news is, you can determine the role of your librarians depending on your team’s areas of focus and existing skills, for example:

  • Entering and/or QC’ing rights information for components, and attaching licenses files
  • Ensuring source files have been uploading
  • QC’ing metadata to make sure teams follow standards and naming conventions
  • Maintaining the reference library

In addition to managing content upon upload, librarians also play a critical role in the ongoing management of components. This includes monitoring upcoming rights expirations and renegotiating or purchasing additional rights as needed. The librarians may also audit component usage to make sure it is still consistent with the rights purchased. Regardless of their specific responsibilities, a robust and well-trained team of librarians will keep your content factory running smoothly.

5. Manage Change and Team Communications

Change Management is all about getting stakeholders to understand not just the “what” but the “why”.

When establishing a new system or process, teams often spend a lot of time going over the tactical details: how to perform the job. And the “how” is important – but long-term adoption comes from users understanding why they’re making changes.

Establishing a content factory is no different. Stakeholders must appreciate and buy into the long-term vision of this initiative.

Getting support from the top is key – leadership must endorse and communicate the value of the content factory. Just as important is framing the benefits in a way that resonates with individual contributors. For example, leadership may want to speed time to market by a certain percent. When conveying this to a brand manager, focus on how this will make their day-to-day easier; getting content to market faster means that the brand manager can get a new edetail aid created, approved, and into the hands of their fields teams well ahead of a key campaign launch.

When rolling out a global content factory program to different regions, engage local champions to help promote the initiative. Having a single point of contact in each region will reinforce corporate goals within local markets – especially since the message is coming from someone they know and trust.

6. Consider a Modular Approach to Content Production

The main purpose of a content factory is to make content creation more efficient. To further optimize this process, many companies have implemented a modular content strategy.

A module is a piece of content that is made up of multiple components (for example, a collection of images and text that are meant to “travel together” to deliver a certain message). Content creators can assemble these modular building blocks to produce composites for use in different channels. Modules often contain business rules that dictate the different ways to combine pieces.

A modular approach not only makes the content creation faster and easier, it can also speed up the review and approval process. If the reviewers and approvers are already familiar with a module, they can quickly look at how it’s used in a composite without needing to re-review the wording and referencing that make up the module itself.

Maintaining Content Factory Momentum

Launching your content factory is a key first step to speeding content time to market. But as with any business process, the content factory should evolve over time as your organization grows. As you continue to scale asset creation, dedicate time and effort towards analyzing factory performance and planning for the future so you can continue to ensure content factory success.

Interested in hearing more content factory best practices? Join the content factory community to network and learn from experts like you.