Marketers are the Renaissance men and women of the business world — balancing business thinking with more creative endeavors, like content creation. And though content marketing is by no means new, some teams are just getting started, building a new program or hiring dedicated staff for content.
So how do you bring that Renaissance thinking into your content marketing strategy?
Whether starting a new content marketing team or growing one, smart management of resources will help you maximize the impact of your content investment.
Developing a Content Strategy
Less than half of B2B and B2C companies have a documented strategy or a clear understanding of successful content outcomes. Unsurprisingly, the top performers across all industries are those who align content strategy and KPIs to business goals.
A useful content strategy outlines goals and objectives, defines success metrics, incorporates buyer personas and buying stages, and assigns responsibility for planning and execution. It acts as your team’s foundation for a strong editorial calendar and helps focus their efforts. Most importantly for new teams, a strategy ensures they start strong with the right content.
Hiring the Right People
How do you know you have the right talent and skills on your content-focused marketing team? Mike Volpe, who served as CMO for a little software company that practically invented inbound marketing, has spoken extensively on what it takes to build and scale a stellar marketing team.
The skill mix he looks for has to serve the three stages of the buying process where marketing can have the most influence: attracting an audience, converting to leads and closing customers. Regardless of team size, more than half of your team should have strong competency in content creation and digital channels.
Don't limit your team to just content experts. Look to other marketing functions such as social media or demand generation, as well as subject matter experts or customer-focused team members in your organization. Lead and demand generation managers might not love writing content, but their conversion and campaign-driven approach can make them great sources for ideas and feedback on what will best serve the buying process.
Balancing Your Budget
Most marketers report that they plan to increase content output and spending, so now's the time to make the case to your VP or CMO for a dedicated content budget you can use to measure ROI.
When designing your budget, consider whether you will need to augment in-house resources for content creation with freelancers, whether you have the right technology in place, and how you will distribute your newly created content. Design might also be a consideration if you plan to create more than just blog posts — and you should.
Experts and freelancers can get expensive quickly. You can lower the cost of increasing content output and contributors by reaching out to peers and influencers with co-marketing and content swap ideas, as well as repurposing existing content whenever possible.
If you don’t have a designer on staff and hiring someone for every e-book or white paper you produce isn’t feasible, free tools like Canva, Infogr.am (for infographics), Pixlr and even Google Slides and Google Docs templates can help you create attractive assets. Consider hiring a freelance designer for a one-time engagement to produce templates that your team can easily reuse.
Spending can be changed as your content marketing organization matures, but when you’re first starting out, the bulk of your spend should go towards distribution to help build your audience fast. Earning a following for your content empire is a long-term commitment, and incredibly valuable in the long run. So publish to your website first, and don’t stop. But your CEO and CFO will balk if you ask for an 18-month runway to show ROI, and paid distribution methods are an excellent way to bridge that gap.
Whether you are using third-party email distribution lists, directory sites, pay-per-click or display advertising, or other kinds of paid promotion, your newly produced content can play a starring role in these outbound methods while growing your inbound audience.
And Don’t Forget ...
Content marketing will complement and in some cases supercharge other methods, so don’t abandon social media, email marketing or events if they have worked in the past. Everything you know about your customers and improving conversions can be applied to make content more effective.
Making content marketing a strategic priority is exciting — and challenging — but intensely rewarding. Content can have tremendous impact, and you can get a lot done with a team of any size as long as you plan and hire well.