Sooooo… You know you need to keep nailing your content marketing to increase traffic, leads and sales. And (I hope) you also know success in content marketing is enjoyed only by companies committed to hiring the best talent.
Content development director Michele Linn of Content Marketing Institute recently wrote:
Each year we track the challenges marketers are having with content marketing in our research. This year, one challenge was far more pronounced than it has been: finding trained content marketing professionals.
Unsurprisingly, I’ve found in addition to a huge demand for hiring talented content marketers, companies are craving advice for how to go about it. As a content marketer and writer (who’s often hired to help market various types of marketing solutions), I’ve also found myself tackling these “help wanted” challenges a lot lately.
- I wrote a post for digital agency iAcquire, Building the Content Marketing Team to Take You to the Promised Land.
- In the post, I borrowed insights from The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook, a tasty resource from my friends at Kapost.
- For Demand Media Content Solutions, I wrote a detailed ebook, Tool Your Content Marketing Team with the Right Talent.
- With Demand Media, for publication on CMI, I wrote, How to Hire Freelancers Who Make Your Content Better (their title)
I encourage you to gather and read these resources, however, I’m going to roll much of the material up and into this post to help accomplish this mission.
It’s tough to go it alone
True, content marketing may ultimately lower your marketing costs, but understand, it demands serious resources. Try to do it as a one-man band and you’ll soon discover it calls for time and talents you don’t have. You need to assemble a team.
According to research conducted by Kapost, fewer than 20% of content marketing teams comprise six or more people. Almost half of the respondents in their survey had teams of two to five.
The same research reports 83.7% of companies find hiring for content marketing difficult.
Let’s attempt to uncover some of the qualities of the most effective content marketing teams, smart ideas for assembling yours, and trends that may help inform your decisions.
You need different types of talent
No matter what type of team you set out to build, you don’t want to stack it top to bottom with redundant talent. The roster of highly accomplished teams comprises a variety of talents that complement each other.
- Business strategy. To be effective, content marketing strategy must integrate into your core marketing goals. Your content marketing team must thoroughly understand the market, how your company is to be positioned, its goals, and how success is measured.
- Online marketing. Your content marketing team must include an expert who can get the content discovered by potential customers and influencers. A wide range of skills come into play, which at a minimum should include SEO, social media, email marketing, and guest blogging.
- Client communications. Your content marketing team will benefit from someone adept at interacting with customers. Jayson writes, “Your ability to intuitively understand clients, to answer hard questions, and to judge whether a specific channel or piece of content is right for them will be infinitely better if you regularly interact with the people you serve.” He suggests having someone like this work closely with your content marketing team.
- Content creators. You need a strong writer, or several, who understand your business and can consistently produce great content.
You need a leader
The chief content officer is a somewhat new title in the C-suite. You don’t necessarily need someone with CCO on his or her nameplate, but you do need a leader—the person who owns content marketing strategy.
Whichever title you give to your director, he or she is responsible for documenting the strategy and leading the content marketing team. The CCO owns the goals, so his or her domain includes executing programs to accomplish them. And because content marketing is not campaign-based (that is, it has no end date), the strategy, oversight, measurement and refinement are continuous, so all responsibilities are always on his or her plate.
The CCO or content marketing director must always have their finger on the pulse of each initiative and the content marketing efforts at large. The chief’s also responsible for assessing specific metrics to gauge performance.
The content marketing leader works with the team to establish and maintain the voice of the content. Generally speaking, the same person is responsible for approving the publication of all content.
The chief guides the entire tribe and should ensure excellence across:
- Editorial and production of content of all types
- Platforms and web resources
- Integration of marketing strategies, including social media
- Freelancer resources
- Content promotion
- Audience development
The list above is adapted from Epic Content Marketing, by Joe Pulizzi, McGraw-Hill Education
You need a managing editor
Pulizzi says a second leader, a managing editor—with solid writing and editing experience—will perform the most critical role in the content marketing process.
Joe writes, “Often the managing editor comes from a journalism, PR/communication or copywriting background. No matter what, if a marketing department does not have an appointed managing editor, they do not have the commitment to build a real content marketing machine.”
The editor is the gatekeeper of the company’s blog. In fact, the same person may be responsible for the quality control of all published works. Additionally, the managing editor should create plans to repurpose content such as blog posts and eBooks into a variety of content types such as infographics, SlideShares, and webinars.
Clearly, the managing editor must have a solid command of writing and editing and be an experienced and talented storyteller. Because the proliferation of content marketing has coincided with a decline of classic journalism—especially newspapers—brands often hire former journalists for the role of managing editor.
The managing editor, however, is seldom the one and only writer or source of the content. So responsibilities also include:
- Hiring and managing freelance writers
(Reference the “Hiring Freelancers” article mentioned above.)
- Developing content contributions from internal teammates, possibly including, executives and professionals from outside the marketing department
- Providing creative direction
- Polishing for publication the works of all contributors to maintain voice and quality standards (a.k.a. editing)
In addition to managing people, the editor manages a variety of processes:
- The use of images (photography, illustration, animation, etc.)
Though it’s not always the case, managing editors often write blog posts and are involved in various forms of content creation. The editor’s writing skills are likely to come into play when the need arises to quickly respond to breaking developments with timely blog posts, newsletters or internal communications.
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[Note: In addition to the two roles presented above, the ebook covers the roles of content strategist, social media strategist, graphic designer, videographer, and data and software specialists—plus tips, org charts and a fun look inside the heads of content marketing types.]
Where do you find your teammates?
Start with your employees because they should know your niche better than anyone. Enlist internal contributors whom you can rely on to build relationships and trust with prospects.
You’ll also benefit from tapping into resources from outside of the marketing department. In doing so, you’ll gain additional perspectives, which will make the content strategy more well rounded, engaging and interesting. Look to professionals in operations, design, customer support, and any others capable of helping create stories your customers can relate to.
Of course, most marketing departments also engage the services of freelancers, especially writers (who often possess journalism skills). What’s more, because a healthy mix of quality content will include various types of content and media, teams will recruit inside and out for professionals with graphic design and video production skills.
Another option is to look at outside sources to build up your newsroom. Some excellent platforms and tools are available to help. According to iAcquire and ClearVoice co-founder Joe Griffin, “The content marketplace and platform landscape is diverse and changing. When considering outsourced content, many companies look to buy content on a one-off basis, but the newer breed of platforms help brands build long-term content partnerships with subject matter experts. This becomes increasingly important as brands develop better content destinations.”
Some great team building tips
The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook, authored by my friend Jean Spencer, does a deep dive into how to structure your team, who to hire, and smart questions to ask. The eBook also presents useful research findings and tips from some accomplished content marketing team leaders.
Joe Chernov, VP of content at HubSpot’s tips include:
“Look for candidates who can quantify their impact on the business.”
“Content marketers need to think on their feet, write cogently, and produce quality content independently. They need to have a nose for subjects people care about.”
Kapost asked 500+ marketers how many people man their content marketing teams and found more than 90 percent have 10 or less. The most common team size is two to five members.
The eBook says nearly half of B2B marketers report hiring a writer first. Jason Miller, senior director of global content marketing at LinkedIn, offered a series of tips focused once again on writing skills. Jason claims the best candidates:
- Write every day to continuously refine their skills.
- Have high standards and are capable of creating content that inspires, educates and entertains.
- Have solid online identities and are active in social media.
- Are multi-dimensional marketers skilled in integrating traditional and new media tactics.
- Can show a “sizzle reel” of engaging content.
- Read blogs and books to keep up with content trends, tactics and news.
Had enough? I didn’t think so.
And here’s an information-packed infographic from Kapost, based on their research.
Brought to you by Kapost