What is a Content Supply Chain?

A content supply chain is a business process of defining the core elements of content production to help plan, create, manage, and route content to desired channels and audiences more efficiently.

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Have you ever experienced projects when content production just happened?

Things moved ahead smoothly then, and everyone seemed to be so in tune that the work got done fast and without any fuss. It doesn’t happen very often, does it?

Unfortunately, such projects, most likely, are an exception rather than the norm. In fact, most of the time, we struggle to produce engaging content every single day.

That creates a whole range of problems.

As modern brands, we experience an incredibly complex challenge. We face an unprecedented demand to create and publish large amounts of content, and do so at an increasing rate. A major part of the overall product experience has moved online. We typically choose to shop from the comfort of our homes. Occasionally, we are also forced to do so. Just think of a small village far away from the next physical stores. It has significantly shifted the way we experience products and make buying decisions.

What is the challenge for marketers in this scenario?
A digitally experienced product without the right content is no product at all. 90% of all commerce transactions involve at least one digital touchpoint, after all. And customers want a satisfying shopping experience, which is often driven by visual appearance.

Where does that leave you?
Well, content creation only seems simple in theory. In truth, however, delivering content is an extremely complicated process, with multiple stages, suppliers, and internal resources involved and a huge potential for roadblocks.

Even if you work on a simple content project, you have to source the right digital content pieces, get the content approved, and distribute it to the right channels. And do it while keeping extremely tight production schedules and working across a distributed team.

It’s no surprise that without a proper system, the whole thing usually falls apart pretty quickly.
Enter digital content supply chain – A powerful system for managing complex content production and getting things done.

What is a Content Supply Chain (CSC)?

The simplest way to explain a digital content supply chain is as a complete process to plan, create, manage, and deliver digital content to desired channels and audiences.

You can trace the idea’s origin to the traditional manufacturing supply chain that helps companies and suppliers produce and distribute a specific product to the final buyer. In the traditional supply chain, companies and their suppliers work together to transform raw materials into a finished product that the customer enjoys.

The process involves sourcing, manufacturing, delivery, sales, and even post-purchase support. So, to allow the entire process to run smoothly, the supply chain typically defines different activities, people, and includes all kinds of information and resources required to make it happen.

This is how it looks like:

 

But did you know that content production follows quite a similar process?

When creating content, you take unedited content like the RAW images from a photoshoot and transform it into a finished piece of content such as a product folder or any other asset through a series of interactions with various stakeholders. Then, you deliver or distribute the finished product to relevant channels or directly to your audience.

Like this:

The digital supply chain is a framework that allows it to happen seamlessly.

The framework defines the process of planning, creating, managing, and routing digital content assets to the desired channels and audiences.

What is a Content Supply Chain Strategy?

The strategy is nothing more than the process of applying the supply chain within an organization.

The content supply chain strategy can be applied in three stages:

  • Create which focuses on planning and delivering the perfect content for any point of the customer journey.
  • Manage dedicated to managing content end-to-end and fully utilizing your marketing assets across all digital touchpoints.
  • Route overseeing the delivery of the content to relevant channels to fuel your sales and marketing strategies.

The three stages above allow organizations to meet the customer demand for content in a timely manner and use the most effective ways to do it.

In practice, it means improving the five core aspects of content production:

  1. Demand planning – Using social signals and data from other channels to identify content demand to create an editorial calendar and project plan.
  2. Production management to convert ideas into finished content assets.
  3. Asset management to create a strong file organization system and track who uses the content, where, and how.
  4. Online proofing to accelerate approvals and get projects completed faster.
  5. Routing to distribute the content to relevant channels.

Why is a Content Supply Chain Strategy so important?

Well, there are several reasons. However, all fall under a single category: Streamlining and simplifying the content production process to meet the content demand in a timely manner.

Here’s how it happens:

  • For one, the content supply chain allows brands to regain control over their content production. With the supply chain in place, a once chaotic structure and processes for creating content become a highly organized process in which everyone involved knows what to do and when.
  • The supply chain also streamlines collaboration. But it does not happen at an organizational level only. The chain makes working with agencies and other third parties far easier.
  • With the digital content supply chain, sourcing, approval, and distribution of assets become far easier than before. When everyone knows their place in the process and has a single point to access assets and information, getting the necessary approvals or buy-ins becomes easier than ever before.
  • Finally, thanks to dedicated tools designed to manage the process, preparing and routing content to any touchpoint can happen automatically.

However, you can experience the benefits of having a supply chain even on a more granular level.

Here are just some benefits of having a strong supply chain strategy in place: 

  • Increased quality. In a supply chain, all content production stakeholders know what they need to do and when. As a result, everyone can focus on their core responsibilities and deliver them at a far greater level.
  • Fewer mistakes. Once again, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, deliverables, timeframes, and more result in better organization, communication, and collaboration, eliminating many mistakes and errors.
  • Much faster content creation and deployment due to a clearly defined process.
  • Lower cost of production, also as a result of fewer mistakes and wasted resources.
  • The ability to significantly scale production, and finally
  • A far better organization of content and digital assets, something that, again, greatly improves the production process and the content’s quality.

The Content Supply Management Strategy in practice

We’ve already established how, as a modern brand, you have no choice but to create incredible amounts of product content. You also know that it is the content supply chain that should guide the entire content production process. Now, let’s see how it happens in practice.

Part I. Create

Planning the supply chain begins with defining what content to create, identifying digital assets required, building internal and external teams, and laying out tasks and responsibilities for each person involved.

The creation process defines how the work should actually happen. However, when defining the production, it should go beyond just outlining what actual work has to be done. You should also consider what research you need, allocate time to source individual assets, and define the process for seeking feedback.

The process should begin by outlining the parameters of the project, so what digital assets you want to create. Next comes identifying experts whose input you might require at different stages of the creation cycle. Finally, the process should also clearly state the end goal so that everyone involved understands the completed project.

Part II. Manage

The manage stage is all about working with digital assets. You can define metadata, easier create and locate files in your centralized hub for content, and work quickly with individual assets.
This section aims to ensure that assets are easily accessible by all stakeholders whenever they require them.

Part III. Route

Several things can happen with a finished piece of content. You may need to deliver it to the resource planning and management software (PIM/ERP). Perhaps you need to upload it directly to the CMS to be added to relevant product pages. Or the content needs to be scheduled on social media.

How to get started with the Content Supply Chain?

You already know that a digital content supply chain is a series of processes to streamline content production.

But how do you get started?

First, you need a dedicated tool. A tool that allows you to implement and manage the three core aspects of the content supply chain strategy, which are create, manage, and deploy.

That’s what CELUM is for.
With CELUM, marketing teams can create, manage and route content more effectively to deliver perfect product experiences.

CELUM’s core features enable brands to:

  • Build one centralized hub for all product content
  • Boost teamwork and collaboration to complete projects faster, even across distributed teams
  • Streamline creative processes
  • Accelerate content approvals
  • Share and access files from anywhere and more.

Video: CELUM CEO & CMO about the Content Supply Chain

Delivering results

A content supply chain is the one process you need to convert chaotic content production into a seamless experience that delivers results. In this guide, you’ve learned what it is, and how it works.

The next step? Check out CELUM for free, and see how it can help you implement the content supply chain in your organization.

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