by George Huff
As is often the case, a customer summed up something I’ve been thinking about for a long time in a single sentence: “collaboration produces better work, but it’s slower and harder.” Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. But more people, more opinions and more meetings means more time.
The world is noisy. Content marketing’s aim is to cut through the noise with relevant content. And it’s not more content that cuts through the noise, it’s better content. This type of marketing is a creative effort, which consists of bouts of solo’d production time, followed by group reviews. Over and over. In the next phase of content marketing, the winners and the losers will be separated by how well your people work together.
Unfortunately, many marketers continue to focus on speed without a serious focus on how to move fast, together. When you try to move fast without moving together, important things get missed. Valuable perspectives get lost. Costly mistakes are made. Overall, the quality of the work suffers. If you believe collaboration produces better work, then you should put collaboration at the heart of your content marketing efforts.
So much of what we do at Opal was born from the insight we gleaned from working alongside marketers and helping their teams work better together…collaborating. From digital marketing teams, to content marketing teams, to comms. teams, we saw the same patterns appear over and over, as the incumbent way of doing things fundamentally broke under the pressures of increasing demand from the market.
What working together looked like
Imagine everything required for a campaign living within multiple spreadsheets. Imagine handing those spreadsheets to a designer to make it “look pretty,” in Keynote. Now imagine sending that Keynote template to nine global regions for them to fill out and send back for “final formatting.” Now imagine the night before the big presentation trying to make all that stuff uniform. And lastly, imagine doing that over and over and over again under constant pressure and deadlines. For years, I experienced this first hand. I was the designer and this experience was one of the key insights that led to creating Opal.
Ultimately, people weren’t spending their time pushing the work forward, they were spending their time communicating what the work would be. We used to jokingly refer to these roles as “human APIs.” This work, while ultimately important, was effectively burning people out and it was so slow. My observation at the time was just noticing the mess and the pain it created. It’s a multi-faceted problem so it’s hard to pin down. The common solution was to throw more bodies at it but this never fixed anything. Instead it only added to the complexity.
I remember thinking at the time, there has to be a better way to do all of this. I thought, “what if we were all working in the same place together and we could spend more time doing and reviewing the work and less time preparing to review the work? What if we could speed up the collaborative process?”
Wouldn’t that be great? Of course it would.
Commitment and focus
Improving collaboration for marketers is what defines us at Opal. We’re obsessed with it. Opal is the only company with total focus in this area to the extent that our entire business is designed around creating the definitive space for marketers to collaborate together. Solving this problem is hard, because it has so many dimensions. It takes many people working across many functions, regions and channels.
When an Opal is launched within a brand, it becomes the centerpiece for everyone who is working on the brand. It is not a “set it and forget it” platform. It is not a single tool for a single user. It is not a “once-in-awhile” product. We know people are relying on Opal every single day to be the canvas for their brand stories. And we take this responsibility very seriously.
If it’s not fast, we slow people down.
If it’s not organized, we slow people down.
If it’s not intuitive or beautiful, we slow people down.
If it’s not connected, we slow people down.
If it’s not flexible, we slow people down.
These perspectives are embedded in every decision we make, which has lead to “peerless success in user experience, speed, usability and campaign visibility”, according to industry experts. Yet the feedback we pay the most attention to is from our users. The metrics that matter most to us are whether or not we are giving them their time back and improving their work.
Evolve the way you work
Across the board, Opal customers are seeing six to ten hours returned to people in a typical week. This translates to less time preparing for meetings and more time collaborating, which leads to better work. We get tons of praise from our users, ranging from “Opal is beautiful” to “Opal has changed my life.” I’d like to invite you to experience Opal for yourself and show you how Opal is helping the world’s best content marketing teams collaborate at pace.