Content is the fuel that drives the Internet. There are well over 300 million registered domains and over 3 million blog posts published daily. Yet only 30% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers are satisfied with their content marketing efforts.
Many companies respond to this lack of quality content by building a team dedicated to content marketing alone. That's great. Totally.
Because smart businesses agree that no marketing strategy is complete without quality content, and multiple surveys prove it:
- 81% of online shoppers in the US search online for product information to help them decide whether to buy.
- Marketers who blog consistently enjoy up to 13 times more return on investment (ROI) than those who don't.
- 70% of consumers prefer to learn about you from articles rather than advertisements.
There are many more examples, but let's stick with these for now. The point is that it's easier—a lot easier—to reach your target audience with content as your weapon.
However, 60% of marketers report that hiring marketing-content talent is a challenge. In his article on Medium, Jay Acunzo says companies are no longer seeking writers; they're looking for talented content creators. "Companies aren't finding enough creative, producer-type talent," he says.
Doing the Groundwork
Before you start looking for talent, you must understand your needs. As with any project, building your content creation team needs measurable goals. Start with two essential ones.
1. What do you want from your team?
To hire the right people, you must have a robust strategy. Without a plan, you'll plaster the Internet with second-rate content nobody wants to read.
Clearly, spelling out what you want will help you get more done, more easily and faster, and you will be saving a lot of time and resources in the process.
For example, if your goal is to outrank your competitors for organic searches on specific keywords, you'll need writers with SEO skills. If you're after converting prospects into customers, you need people with copywriting experience. And so on.
2. Who are your customers?
A cardinal rule of content marketing is "know your customers."
Back in August, I launched a content marketing business that works mainly with B2B tech companies. Here's what my target customer persona looked like:
- Location: Most of my targets are living in the US, the UK or Canada.
- Target needs: Increase lead and boost traffic.
- Title: head of marketing, chief content officer, and so on.
- Marketing budget: Let's say hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Language: I sprinkle jargon, such as "boost traffic," "increase leads," and "sales funnel" both in my content and pitch emails.
- Contact method: Blogs, industry forums, and social media pages and groups.
One of the best guides for creating the right customer persona is from HubSpot. It's required reading for any serious marketer.
Hiring Your Team
An effective content team needs a mix of skills. You'll need pros in a variety of areas, depending on the requirements you laid down in your groundwork. Most companies need at least these four roles.
1. Content creators
Content creators are responsible for—surprise, surprise—creating your content. They are responsible for coming up with ideas and turning them into tangible content; that might include researching subjects, finding images, transcribing audio to text (if you do podcasts or interviews), aspects of SEO, and a variety of other tasks.
Content creators work with almost everybody on the team and come in a variety of flavors. Some are specialists, such as copywriters who create landing pages. Some are generalists, who create blog posts and corporate information.
Whatever your needs, try to hire writers with experience and an interest in the industry. Doing so will make your job easier and their job more fun.
I've forgotten where, but I once read that Stephen King says your editors are almost always right, and you should listen when they speak.
Writers should never edit their own work, no matter how good they are. Editors do more than spot typos and grammatical mistakes; they give life to your work. They maintain tone and style to consistently communicate your brand.
Editors may also assign topics to content creators based on their strengths, and they help create and maintain your editorial calendar.
3. Social media promoters
With so much going on, you will have little time to handle content promotion yourself.
Remember, your groundwork should include locating where your target audience spends time. Your social media promoter has the responsibility of appearing in those places and ensuring your content gets seen by the right people.
Try to find a promoter with experience in your current and future platforms. For example, hiring a Twitter expert to manage your feed may be great in the short term, but that person may lack required skills if you plan to grow into a YouTube channel, podcasting, or LinkedIn promotion.
4. Content strategists
If churning out endless content is all it took to boost ROI, everyone would be doing just that. Content marketing is more complex. It requires strategy.
Your content strategist tracks and analyzes the progress of your efforts and looks for what works best, so you can repeat it. You can't grow without a great strategist.
You need someone who loves data and turning metrics into something useful. Your content strategist also keeps you abreast of industry trends, watches the competition, and guides your content team in the most profitable direction. Do not overlook this role.
Nurturing Your Team
Marketing is not a cost: it's an investment. Be prepared to invest in your team members. It doesn't matter if they're the best in your industry: No one knows everything, the media landscape changes constantly, and every business is unique, so there is always something new to learn.
Training your content team shows you are invested in their future and makes your job a lot easier. For example, you might consider training on...
- Ideation/topic generation: Train them to research topic ideas. It's shocking how many content creators still write on a whim, without much thought for what is trending or useful for the audience. Your content will not achieve your desired goals if that's how your team works.
- Headlines: David Ogilvy knew what he was saying when he said, "five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy." According to surveys, that hasn't changed. If you're getting 80% of your impact from the headline, your team needs to understand how to create headlines.
- Tone and style: Your tone and style must resonate with your customer persona. You will achieve results faster if you connect with your audience. Train new hires on your company's public "voice." Ideally, get your content team to produce a style guide that includes a section on voice.
- Tools: Content marketing has its own, growing set of tools for efficiency, monitoring, analysis, and productivity. Every team has its own suite: Asana, Basecamp, Quick Sprout, and other fantastic tools are widely used. You may need different options, but the point is to stay ahead of the game by optimizing your team's time and effort. Invest wisely.
- Self-auditing: your team members should be encouraged to carry out a self-audit occasionally–let's say every week or two: They should set content goals for themselves and the team, and describe what and how they intend to achieve those goals. Doing so will make them accountable to both the team and themselves.
Other skills, such as good leadership, are so also vital and, of course, should be instilled in your team. You do so by listening to their concerns and ideas, leading by example, and showing respect and trust. The more you involve them in your business, the more likely they are to produce great content that achieves your desired goals.
The need for quality content cannot be overemphasized, and that means you need a team that knows how to implement your content strategy. Identify your target customers, state your aims, and hire the right people to improve brand awareness and engage your client base.
Are you building your content team? Have you done anything differently? Tell us in the comments!