It wasn’t too long ago that marketing your business online all by yourself, using just a few minutes of free time you shaved from your lunch break each day, seemed feasible. Even just a few years ago, creating content felt like a fairly simple process: maintain a blog, update it regularly with a quick post or two, and you’re all set to generate leads. Maybe, if you’re really ambitious, run a social media account or two. Now? Not so much.
The challenges of building a brand online have rapidly grown in a very short period of time. People across the business world have quickly latched onto the idea that “content is king,” and it hasn’t taken long for content marketing to become a massive field with a lot of voices, all of them desperately crying out to be heard.
This can sound daunting for any marketer trying to build a brand for a business. With so much competition out there, how does anyone distinguish themselves?
That’s a difficult question, but one thing’s for sure—doing it yourself isn’t a realistic goal anymore. Trust me on this, even with a great team I find myself writing this at 1:00 am. But I digress… If you want your business to put out content that’s competitive with the best in the business, you’ll need to have a team of qualified, passionate and specialized pros on your side. Here’s a look at four types of team members who will prove to be major assets.
The Foundation: A Good Manager
As in any other aspect of business, the most important part of producing good content is having strong leadership. It’s vital to have a strong manager/director (hint) in place to oversee any and all content production efforts.
In “How to Staff a Content Marketing Team,” Seth Dotterer, marketing VP at Conductor, compares a marketer to a publisher, making big-picture decisions about what kind of overall message their business’s content delivers to readers.
“Content marketers have to think like publishers,” Dotterer explains. “A big part of adopting that mindset is building out an editorial calendar. Doing so helps content marketers leverage upcoming opportunities like holidays or news announcements. But even if your brand is set on publishing evergreen content, it’s still critical to hire content project managers because content marketing is about a steady volume of material, rather than a successful one-off.”
With good editorial leadership in place, you can proceed with confidence, producing material that hits all the right notes. Whether your goal is generating new leads or strengthening your relationships with existing loyal customers, a good content manager can make sure it happens.
Strong Writers, Strong Content
Of course, once you have good leaders at the top, the next thing you need is talented people working under them to compile the best possible content. First and foremost, you need strong writers. If your message isn’t well written, you’re going to turn away potential customers and even consumers of your content.
The most important thing about writing content is getting your organization’s message right, says Feldman Marketing founder Barry Feldman in “The Right Way to Write Content.” Whatever objective, mission statement, or vision you’re trying to manifest, a strong writer will know how to put it into words that outside readers will appreciate. The best marketing content tells a genuine story, and that story helps turn your readers into brand ambassadors.
“Have a meaningful message,” Feldman recommends. “The content you’re about to write is based on an idea, but it can’t be arbitrary. Each chunk of content you create should be an ingredient in a big-picture recipe. In other words, your micro-message must map to your company’s macro-message.”
Enhancing the Message: A Graphic Designer
Writing is a big part of the challenge, but it’s just the beginning. If your marketing content consists of nothing but huge blocks of text, it’s unlikely you’ll hold your audience’s attention.
Skilled graphic designers can make a world of difference.
What you need to bolster that text is a graphical element. Peg Fitzpatrick, social strategist and co-author of The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users, considers strong graphic designers a fundamental part of any content marketing team. They help make your online material more inherently social, increasing your content’s viral potential.
“Social media graphics are crucial these days for getting your message across,” Fitzpatrick explains in her blog post “Quick Tips for Great Social Media Graphics.” “For me, the perfect social media post always includes a graphic. From Pinterest to sharing on Google+ to tweeting an image, the message is the same: visuals are the key.”
Sometimes you can’t find the right words to state your message perfectly—but a picture might just do the trick. The key is to find the right balance of both.
Crunching the Numbers: An Analyst
Last but certainly not least, you’ll need to follow up with your content marketing efforts on a regular basis, ensuring that the strategies you’re trying are successful. Whenever you undertake a new effort—a blog, a Twitter account, a series of YouTube videos, you name it—you want to measure your progress, reassess, and optimize for the next “go round”.
Every content marketing team needs to have a qualified professional or service that who can crunch the numbers and examine the progress in producing and publishing content.
“Being ‘data-driven’ isn’t a matter of math skills,” Dotterer clarifies, “but rather a question of how open-minded a content creator is to measureable insights that may, or may not, support what they feel in their gut.” You may think you know what works when it comes to content, but until you measure it and check out the numbers, what do you really know?
Tips for Building Your Content Marketing Team
Ready to make a dream content team?
Whether you build a team in-house or assemble a remote, distributed team like I have, here’s what to look for.
- Manager (Probably You): Your content marketing manager should think like a publisher, overseeing all content to create a cohesive big picture and planning ahead with an editorial calendar.
- Writers: Naturally, your writers should be able to turn a phrase (did you see what I did there?). But it’s crucial that he or she can also craft articles and other text that support your company’s overall message and objectives.
- Graphic Designer: Design amplifies the message of all your written content and extends your brand. Your designer should be able to both reflect the tone of a specific piece and maintain a consistent, recognizable style across her or his work.
- Analyst or Analytical Service: The analyst should not just thoroughly track your metrics, but also identify patterns, giving you direction for your next steps.