By Jeremy Frank
Being in charge of content at your company can be a lonely place. I’ve been there. Your sales team wants one thing, your demand gen team wants another and there’s that big event coming up with three tracks, 60 sessions and a zillion speakers. It’s up to you to make sure everyone is happy.
The initial reaction is often, “I need more people!” — and sometimes this is true. In fact, that realization is a big part of why Original9 is in business. But there’s an important step every content marketer should take before coming to that conclusion: understanding the content assets you have in-house. Put another way, it’s finding out who can help.
Here are a few tips from my experience to figure out who those people are:
Find Your Content Creators
By now, I think you know you can’t write it all yourself. So how do you find the right people within your organization with ideas, writing skills or even just a desire to get involved?
At the most basic level, keep your eyes and ears open. Buy your coworkers coffee to get to know them and see if they have interesting ideas, monitor what people are saying on Chatter/Slack/Yammer and treat internal company events like auditions. At my previous company, ServiceMax, the presenters and people who asked interesting questions were some of the best candidates for blog authors.
You can also test out an incentive program for blogging — give people a compelling reason to raise their hand. Once they have identified themselves, they’re on your go-to list of content creators. Forever. Marketo has been incentivizing people to author blog posts for years — with SLR cameras, TVs, etc. — and they run one of the best B2B content programs.
Finally, remind people that you’re here to help: The most common reasons people gave me at ServiceMax for not wanting to contribute content were, “I’m not a very good writer” and “Writing takes too long.” Assure them you’ll help with brainstorming and editing to make contributing as easy and painless as possible — and then follow-up on that promise.
Start With In-House Design, Then Look Outside
Design is often the forgotten child of content. Writing gets all the attention and the glory, but I think most marketing strategists will agree that presentation is equally important. So, what internal resources do you have to help you with design?
If you’re re-launching your blog or designing your first e-book, make sure your internal designer has a hands-on role. Your head designer or creative director owns your visual brand and should set the tone for the look, feel and overall design of your content. Even when you outsource content, make sure to keep your internal person in the loop. They know your visual brand better than anyone and can make any final tweaks. When we redesigned Field Service Digital at ServiceMax, our creative director was very involved in early design decisions, but the bulk of the work was then done by a freelance designer and a web developer.
Find a few freelancers you trust to keep on hand. If they’re talented designers, they can follow the lead of your internal team and stick to brand guidelines. Freelancers also bring a different creative perspective, and may offer new and interesting ideas to your internal team.
Tap Sales, Lead Gen and PR for Distribution
Ok, so you’ve got the content creation and design engine going. Now what do you do with it? Great content without an audience doesn’t provide any value to your company. But before you pay an external syndication service, remember that your coworkers are a great distribution avenue — particularly in three departments: sales, PR and lead gen.
Salespeople are always looking for reasons to get back in touch with prospects. One of the best ways to do this? Sharing high-quality and relevant content. Your job as a marketer is to make sure the sales team is aware of what content you’re creating. Whether it’s setting up a Slack channel, sending an email or creating a weekly update of the best content on the blog, package content so it’s easy for salespeople to access and share. At ServiceMax, I created email templates with merge-fields in Salesforce for the sales team, so they just had to make a few clicks to send content to their prospects.
Your communications and PR teams are also in need of content — they are always looking for a great angle or story to share with reporters. As you’re working on your editorial calendar and content strategy, think about what might be interesting to your PR team. What kind of data can you turn into a compelling report for them to pitch? Is there an press-worthy infographic in the works? Landing your content in the media can be a massive distribution win for you.
Last but not least, the lead generation team is probably thirstier for content than anyone else. While most content marketers are in close communication with the lead gen team, many people don’t realize that they are also one of your biggest allies when it comes to distribution. Some lead gen teams are sitting on email lists of tens to hundreds of thousands of people. When I first started at ServiceMax on a small marketing team of three, the email database was already 15,000 people. Get in on that.
Of course, no matter the size of your company, it is almost impossible to be entirely self-sufficient when it comes to content. The essential first step is to identify your internal resources and expertise, then decide where you could use external help from an agency or freelancer. How to make the latter decision is a topic for another day.