Over the past six months, we’ve spent a great deal of time talking with brands both large and small to identify the key challenges and components of content marketing. While there’s a diversity of perspectives and certainly every brand has a different spin on content, we found three major challenges that were shared across the industry.

These challenges drive the need for a more systematic approach to content creation (which we’ve identified as a major trend for 2014) and will be top of mind for CMO’s into the foreseeable future.

The First Challenge: How do we create content more efficiently?

As we outlined in The Content Marketing Revolution, the scale and pace of sharing on social networks is now measured in not millions but billions, both in terms of audience and individual pieces of content. We live in a world dominated by social + mobile, engulfed by infinitely scrolling streams of brand and user generated content.

What we need is greater efficiency, which can only come from new processes and systems.

The assembly lines implemented by Robert Domm, Henry Ford and others were leaps and bounds beyond prior manufacturing practices. Ford was able to churn out cars 8x faster than before – with new Model-T’s coming off the line every 3 minutes. Every automotive company had to adopt this “technology” or go out of business (and over 250 companies in fact did). In the same way, brands have to adopt new technologies that increase efficiency if they hope to deal with the volume of new posts, photos, videos, tweets, and comments that exist today.

But speed and scale are only part of the equation.

The Second Challenge: How do we create content more effectively?

Everybody had the first couple of years where it was “let’s get going on social” so everyone went crazy and started dumping content across channels, opening up separate handles. There was no rhyme or reason other than to show the executive pool that we had a digital footprint. And then what did you get? – Andrew Bowins, SVP at MasterCard

Community managers and CMO’s have to understand what kind of impact their content really has, and how they can increase it. What’s more, as new targeting options, markets, and platforms emerge, these challenges only grow in both scale and complexity. It’s for this reason we see a real need for modern brands to find ways to streamline and introduce automation and organization into every step of the content marketing process

The Third Challenge: How do we create content that’s consistently on brand?

Consistency is the final challenge, one we hear over and over again from the biggest global marketers to digital teams at fast-growing startups. As brands expand and diversify their digital footprint, marketing teams need to ensure that the core equity and identity of the brand they represent is carried throughout every piece of content. Losing control of the message in the name of speed and volume is never a good deal, especially when brands are so publicly humiliated by their social media missteps.

This problem is all the more acute in a global environment where cultural differences across regions and audience demographics can lead to major challenges in maintaining a consistent voice of the brand. Additionally, with big brands now relying on more than one agency at a time, the need to avoid crossing wires and work as a team is paramount.

The Answer: Building Blocks of Content

What’s the answer to these challenges? We believe it is in the seven building blocks of content. They are the first step towards systemization: a set of rules that govern every piece of content we create.

In a sentence:

Great marketing content is aimed at an audience, fit to a topic, associated with an event, pushed to a platform, triggered by an internal or external force, aligned with a business objective, and represents the brand.

Over the next few posts, we’ll be exploring what each of the building blocks means for brands and content creators. For a comprehensive treatment, you can also learn more at: The 7 Building Blocks of Content.