There is an interesting fight happening in marketing departments around the globe: Where does content marketing belong?
Does it belong to the PR pros because they are natural storytellers and are trained to craft a great story? Does it belong to advertisers because, without distribution, your content goes nowhere? Does it belong to marketers because it helps generate leads? Does it belong to a new role—the content marketer—so it can apply a very specific skill set?
The problem with this kind of thinking, of course, is it creates silos. Silos, by their very nature, are harmful to an organization and weigh it down when it really needs to be flexible to the constant change of technology. Silos also create fiefdoms that prevent colleagues from talking to one another. A concept discussed in great detail in Marketing in the Round, digital communications must exist to break those silos down and let content marketing belong to the entire organization.
The Content Marketing Role
The other problem is a good majority of organizations want to give content marketing a role instead of hiring for skill. That’s why there is the “Where does it belong?” argument.
- Do you have a really good writer? Let him create content and distribute it.
- Do you have an introvert who gets her social interaction online? Let her build relationships with all stakeholders and influencers to distribute the content.
- Do you have a receptionist who is brutal with a red pen? Let him edit all of the content for consistency and voice.
- Do you have a sales person with a really deep Rolodex? Let her discover new ways to approach new readers.
The content marketing role should be defined on skill set and not on department. Once you find where people have strengths around the myriad content roles (planning, creation, distribution, engagement), you begin to get the entire organization involved in its success. Which leads to the Golden Ticket so many can’t seem to find.
The Content Marketing Process
By sheer necessity, smaller organizations have this process down already. Everyone in the organization is responsible for content marketing because there aren’t resources for departments, let alone departments to fight about it. Larger organizations can learn a thing or two from the Davids in their industries.
A 10-person software-as-a-service company in Pennsylvania serves the education market. Their focus for business development and client retention is on content marketing.
- The CEO leads the charge by creating drip email campaigns and writing two blog posts per month. He also serves as the central hub for ideas, approvals, and distribution.
- The technology manager handles data, metrics, and analysis.
- The customer service manager writes two blog posts per month, develops long-form content (eBooks and white papers) and handles the social media (including a very effective Pinterest campaign—see #10).
- The educational specialist works with customers to create testimonials and case studies.
- The director of sales contributes content and distributes it to his deep Rolodex.
In the past three years, the results they’ve seen from having everyone involved in the content marketing process is astounding:
- Blog traffic increased 260 percent.
- The number of people who took their free trial increased 570 percent.
- The number of conversions increased 50 percent.
- They increased from one percent conversion on free trials to eight percent.
- Revenue, from these efforts alone, equals $1.5 million.
As they continue to work together to improve the content marketing process, their results continue to increase.
Plan for Success
Just like any other business initiative, you have to plan your content marketing process.
To start, if you already have an accountability chart for everyone in your organization, start there. If you don’t, create a quick spreadsheet and fill in the strengths of each team member. In some cases, you’ll want to ask every employee to fill it in—and tell you what they really love to do. In other cases, you’ll want supervisors to provide this data. However you get it, it’s important to determine where people’s skills lie and then build the content marketing process around them.
Now it’s time to start working with everyone in the organization to break down the silos and make content marketing part of the job of all.
Create a content marketing plan that follows the decision-making funnel by offering top-, middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel content:
- Top of the Funnel: The very broad content at the top that helps a prospect become educated about an issue, challenge, or solution. This should build industry awareness, attract links and reach new audiences.
- Middle of the Funnel: The discovery content is in the middle and this is where a prospect begins to trust you. This is where you create awareness of a solution you have to an industry problem, awareness of your organizations and help prospects to remember you.
- Bottom of the Funnel: The consideration content is at the bottom. They are ready to buy…and have likely narrowed down their choices to you and one or two other organizations. This is where you can begin to talk about yourself, but not from your point-of-view. You have to do it from their perspective, which is why case studies and testimonials are so powerful here. It should build product awareness and convert prospects to customers.
Every employee should be responsible for content at each level. This will create a flexible organization that can be fluid with technology changes, break down silos and improve culture because people will feel like they’re all in the organization’s success together.