How to Create and Maintain a Culture of Content Marketing
It’s time for your organization to stop applying band-aids to your marketing problem, or more specifically, your content marketing problem. If you are one of the many businesses simply handing over the keys to what is potentially your best vehicle for growth — your expertise — then it’s time to develop a culture of content.
Here’s what we see far too often: Let’s say Susan is a marketing manager for a software company. Looking for a way to drive more website traffic and more leads, she does her research on content marketing and believes it’s the smart way to grow her department and visibility for her company’s brand.
If someone like Susan devotes some time, she can convince management on at least some level to dip their toes into this content marketing game. But the buy-in isn’t genuine: “Great work, Susan — but we have our product launch next quarter, and we need all resources dedicated to that. Write some blog posts in your spare time, and report back to us on how many leads you drive.”
Now, Susan is left to run the fledgling content marketing program by herself. Management didn’t commit any resources, time, or budget to this new, customer-centric approach. So what does she do?
Most marketing managers in her position would get creative, hire some freelance writers and designers, and oversee the production of some content over the next few months. What, then, are her challenges?
- Frequency: With a small budget and limited time, she’s only able to develop six pieces of content over three months, which isn’t enough to get traction or drive results.
- Authenticity: The content isn’t authentic, because external people have created most of it.
- Alignment: Susan’s colleagues and management aren’t aware of her efforts and her lessons learned.
- Buy-In: Management doesn’t see enough results from Susan’s pilot program to continue.
Why Should We Develop a Culture of Content?
We know content marketing works. It costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates three times as many leads. In addition, brands employing a content marketing program have up to 7 times higher lead conversion rates.
To avoid situations like Susan’s above, you need to make the case that everyone in the organization can (and must) play a role in your content marketing program. That includes executives, directors, sales, marketing, customer service, and R&D.
A culture of content achieves at least three primary objectives:
- It informs everyone across the company about content marketing and why you’re committing to it.
- It encourages an exchange of ideas, developing more well-rounded employees who understand multiple facets of the company.
- It allows everyone to be invested in the success of the company because people understand that they themselves can drive leads through their content. When done right, content marketing will help answer prospects’ questions at any stage of their journey.
Content is far bigger than any one department. If a small team of employees or interns is running your content marketing program, you’re failing to unlock the expertise of your entire organization. And that’s precisely what you need to be authentic, demonstrate thought leadership, and be transparent. These are the values that many audiences are looking for online.For #contentmarketing to work, unlock the expertise of your entire organization. Click To Tweet
So don’t fall into the trap of taking content on by yourself, and producing mediocre content that doesn’t drive results.
How To Convince Leadership to Lead a Culture of Content Marketing
Content marketing is a fundamental shift in your organization’s philosophy and daily approach. How can you get everyone on board?
The best way is to get management on your side. Understand overall company goals, and align your content marketing pitch or strategy with those objectives. Make the business case for content marketing by following these steps:
- Tell a Story: Walk your senior team through a hypothetical case study, where compelling content attracts a customer and ends with a sale for the company. Highlightthe ways that content plays into a purchase decision for a prospect.
- Educate: Executives may be aware that many companies are “doing content marketing,” but you need to show them the business value of this customer-centricapproach. Collect industry insights, trends, and statistics, such as, “Inbound tactics save an average of 13% in overall cost per lead” (Hubspot).
- Confront Objections: Arm your team with intelligence and a commitment to succeed when objections arise. Again, statistics like “Companies that blog 15x per month get 5x more traffic than those that don’t” (Hubspot) will help your cause.
- Create a Strategy: Develop a three-step plan based around content strategy, implementation, and measurement. Start with the end game in mind, and show what success will look like in a year.
- Craft Your Presentation: Now use all the supporting data you’ve gathered to create a pitch, highlighting your main points, accompanied by content marketing examples, visuals, and statistics.
- Ask for Buy-In: As previously noted, this new approach will require budget and resources behind it. Calculate for internal as well as external time (freelance resources and/or agency).
Your leaders can then “sell” content marketing across the company. Executives can help you share your content marketing vision by answering these types of staff questions:
- Why is our business doing content marketing?
- What do we hope to achieve?
- What do we want to share with our audience?
- How will this process work and who will be involved? (Hint: everyone!)
How to Maintain your Culture of Content
Once you have philosophical buy-in from your company’s leadership, what next? According to Contently, “Company-wide enthusiasm for content marketing doesn’t materialize overnight. It requires constant communication and reinforcement.”
As your company’s content evangelist, your role is to demonstrate to your teammates that every moment is a content opportunity. Tell your colleagues that every single one of them has the potential to be a publisher.
Reinforce these ideas by doing the following:
- Hold a presentation meeting of at least 60 minutes. Walk through your ideas, your content marketing enthusiasm, and your vision. Encourage questions from your internal audience, and demonstrate the value of this approach. Help them understand why their contributions to your content marketing efforts will contribute to everyone’s success.
- Share your content strategy and any important policies that will structure your implementation. Tie content to departmental objectives.
- Establish a content marketing leadership team to oversee content production and editorial efforts. You might consider hiring a full-time managing editor. Hold recurring meetings with these content representatives from across the company to discuss content calendars, upcoming ideas, and progress and results.
- Highlight successful or interesting content pieces by e-mailing them to all staff. Keep your team informed and excited throughout the year!
- Schedule training workshops so your teammates understand ongoing strategy, best practices, and how to contribute.
Also remember that content marketing isn’t just about blogging. It’s about collecting and disseminating valuable information. So help your teammates help you! Take advantage of their strengths.
Not everyone is a writer or a designer, but everyone in your organization has some kind of specialized knowledge that could be useful to a potential customer. Encourage your teammates to:
- Submit content ideas regularly
- Write down questions they hear directly from customers or prospects
- Take photos with their smartphones
- Write outlines for potential blog posts
- Develop checklists of their processes
Getting 100% support from your organization for content marketing activities may be one of the most important actions you take in 2016.
About Drew Eastmead
Drew leads Vertical Measures' training and education efforts, including our Content Coaching services. He has 13 years of digital experience, including 10 in New York City, where he managed several large-scale websites. Today, he arms clients with the latest content marketing knowledge and skills to compete in the digital space. @dreweastmead