“Content is king” may be a well-worn trope by now, but it’s repeated so often because it’s still true. With buyers spending more time than ever independently researching (and less time than ever interacting with sales teams), delivering the right content at the right time is simply the most reliable way to get potential customers interested in what you have to offer.

Executing on that idea, of course, is the less-simple part. We’ve written before about how content creation is a bottleneck for many organizations, and how the reasons for that can vary. Today, though, we’re tackling a reason that can seem particularly intractable. How do you meet your content needs when you just don’t have enough content creation resources?

The easy answer, obviously, is to hire more content people, but if that were an option you probably wouldn’t be having your bottleneck problem in the first place. Instead, we’re going to talk about doing more with the resources you already have.

As counterintuitive as it may seem for a creative process, we’re actually going to look to manufacturing here. To get more results without more resources, put your QC before your bottleneck.

Think of manufacturing gadgets in a factory. If there’s a part of the assembly process that slows things down – for example, something that can only be done carefully by hand – the manufacturer will want to run their quality control on components before those parts reach the manual stage. That way, their workers don’t waste time hand-assembling something that later needs to be thrown out because one of the component parts was defective. By catching any defective parts before they reach the bottleneck, the manufacturer cuts down on wasted money and time.

Producing engaging content is obvious not the same as assembling gadgets in a factory, but the principle applies all the same. Since content production is your scarcest resource, you want to make sure that everything your content team produces will be used (and useful!). Any content that gets scrapped partway through – or worse, completed and thrown in a drawer to gather dust – is a double loss for your team. You lose the time and money spent directly working on that content, and you lose the opportunity cost of what your team didn’t get to work on instead.

Going back to our manufacturing analogy, the key here is to go through that QC process before production is underway. Invest time and energy upfront in making sure that when the team starts work, they get it right the first time.

We say this a lot, but there’s no substitute for planning and alignment (which a good CMP can help with). Before you get a piece of content underway, there are three things you’ll want to have locked down: who are you creating it for? What does it need to do? What does success look like?

Who is it for? What customer persona are you targeting with this content piece? What are their concerns, and how should content be positioned to resonate with them?

What does it need to do? Why are you creating this content in the first place? What messages should it include? What “rules of the road” should the content creator be aware of?

What does success look like? How will you know if the content piece is “working” or not? What actions do you expect prospects to take as a result, and how will you measure if it’s happening?

If there is any debate across stakeholders about any of the above, get it all hashed out in the planning stage. If you leave questions until the content is underway, you run the risk of having to throw out work your team has already done. Once your content creation team starts working, there should be no ambiguity about what they’re doing, who it’s for, and how it will fit into the organization’s goals.

A simple way to make a potentially huge difference here is having robust, specific briefs for all your content pieces, especially if you’re using outside help like an agency or a freelancer (and if you’re headcount-constrained on content resources, we’re betting you probably are).

By giving your content creators all the above information, with no hidden expectations or vague spots, you’re setting them up to get it right the first time, with minimal revisions. And if they get it right the first time, then they finish faster and can move on to another piece of content, instead of getting bogged down in protracted redrafts.

High quality content marketing with limited content resources is completely doable – but it does require tight alignment around goals, audience, and success. With that time investment, however, it’s possible to get your content bottleneck humming like a well-oiled machine.