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Over the past couple of years, I've seen small companies get off to a frustratingly slow start with content marketing. The reason, more often than not, was because they made one big mistake: Rather than hire the skilled professionals it takes to build a successful content marketing program, they tried to add content marketing to their marketing team's list of responsibilities.

At first glance, doing so may seem like a pragmatic approach, but it's ultimately shortsighted and it rarely leads to the desired results. The reality is that if you want to attract and retain great customers, and reap all of the other benefits of content marketing, you need to put the right resources against it.

The good news for budget-conscience executives is that that you don't necessarily need an army of content marketers on the payroll to be effective. In fact, you can often build a successful program with just one or two key hires.

Whether you are new to content marketing or you are looking to re-evaluate your current resources, keeping the following four steps in mind will help you assemble your dream team.

1. Start by hiring a managing editor

Every content marketing program needs its own "CEO," a role often best filled by a managing editor who reports to the head of marketing. A good managing editor will develop your company's content strategy, simultaneously marshaling and managing all of the resources necessary to execute that strategy.

The best managing editors typically have a combination of deep editorial experience and proven project management expertise. To succeed in the digital age, they have also had to become experienced online marketers with myriad talents, ranging from optimizing content for search engines, to developing effective landing pages that drive conversions, to distributing content through social media and other online channels. And they have to be analytics gurus who can track and analyze all of the metrics that demonstrate the value of the content marketing programs they create.

Importantly, don't confuse managing editors with writers. Their job isn't to create content, it's to manage all of the other people and resources involved in content creation and distribution. If they get too deep into the weeds, they won't be able to provide the strategic guidance that great content marketing programs need.

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image of Kevin Cain

Kevin Cain is a content and communications strategist based in Sydney, Australia. He has more than a decade of experience working in the financial services and consulting industries and helping expansion-stage software companies develop their content strategies.

LinkedIn: Kevin Cain

Twitter: @kevinrcain