Content Marketing is an Organizational Effort
All too often we are approached by clients who struggle to initiate and maintain an ongoing content marketing program. Typically, it’s not that they don’t recognize the value of such a program, it’s more a gnawing fear of how they will find the time to implement what is likely a time-consuming strategy. After all, it’s usually our friends in the marketing and communications departments who often shoulder the entire brunt of the effort, without a lot of help from the rest of their organization.
What most don’t realize though is that in order to be successful, they are going to need a team effort. The entire organization needs to buy into the vision and strategy of a content program and play a key role in its success. Marketers don’t have to do it all themselves, but It’s up to them to lead the effort, clearly articulate roles to various team members and ensure each team has an avenue for contributing.
If you’re unclear how each team fits into the content marketing puzzle, and how best to utilize their roles and skillset, read on.
This one’s obvious as it’s typically the marketing and /or communications team heading up the strategy and execution of the content program. From conception to tactics and execution, this team manages the process from start to end, then analyzes and refines it to make it better. This team also acts as the liaison, gathering buy-in, expertise and creating the tangible deliverables that makes the entire content machine run.
This is often where a lot of the content strategy begins, especially if the goal of your content marketing program is generating leads. The expertise of the sales team is invaluable when it comes to identifying your target personas (because your content is being directed at your buyer personas, right?) as well as their goals and pain points. They can also help with lead scoring and product knowledge. We dedicated a whole blog post to working with sales on your content strategy, here.
One of the biggest drivers of your content should be to highlight your internal expertise. Your product managers can serve as your internal subject matter experts (SMEs) and should be involved in generating blog and white paper content and ideas, leading webinars and generally serving as the celebrity experts of your organization. Their deep-seeded knowledge of your products and services is what makes them such valuable assets to a content marketing program. They are the ones who will provide your customers and prospects with the knowledge they’re seeking to help solve their challenges.
Customer Service Representatives/Account Managers
This group is the front line of the organization, but often are consulted last, or not at all when it comes to content marketing efforts. There’s probably no other internal team that knows your customers more intimately than this group, making for a lot of valuable, untapped knowledge. Consider how much richer your personas will be if you involved this group in your persona exercise and how much blog and social media content could come from their day-to-day experiences with customers. This group has their finger on the pulse of the trends, challenges and ambitions of the customer, and incorporating their knowledge will only make your content richer.
And last, but certainly not least, are the C-level executives. This is where buy-in and living the culture really makes a difference, because if executives aren’t making content a priority and setting the example for the rest of the organization, then everyone else will follow suit. Making content a marketing priority should be communicated from the top down for it to really take hold. And of course, your top execs also should be serving as subject matter experts, as their expertise can add high levels of experiential expertise to your content.
While we understand it may not always be possible to have this kind of cross-functional participation in your content marketing efforts, what we have described is the ideal that all organizations should constantly aim for and work towards. It is possible to run a content marketing program without all functions contributing, but those that are able to get participation and commitment from cross-functional teams as well as your organization’s leadership will not only be relieved of the burden of creating content on their own but will me much more successful along the way.