Unless you're completely new to digital marketing (in which case, here's an overview), you've probably heard that content marketing is one of the hottest promotional strategies you can use. But knowing it's important and implementing it effectively are two different things.
A lot of companies mistakenly think of content marketing as an advertising strategy that should be controlled by the marketing department. While these professionals might play a bigger role in terms of overall campaign strategy, the truth is that taking an organizational approach to content marketing gives you more opportunities to connect with target customers than adopting a narrower mindset.
What does an organizational approach look like? Content marketing on an organization-wide basis is, to some extent, self-explanatory. Instead of having a few key players develop and drive company content campaigns, employees at all levels and across all departments are involved in content creation.
The following two examples show this distinction in action:
- Company A confines content marketing to the company’s marketing department. These two employees, the director of marketing and a graphic designer, are responsible for developing a strategy, creating content and measuring the results of every content piece deployed.
- Company B gives the primary responsibility for content campaigns to the marketing department, but it also includes employees from every other department in the ideation and creation process. Now, even though the marketing department’s two employees are still integral parts of the process, employees from R&D, IT, customer service and others all contribute – creating a broader base of content and minimizing the burden on the two marketing employees.
Why take an organizational approach? As you can see from the two examples above, involving additional employees or departments in the content marketing process offers a number of different benefits.
When content marketing is restricted to a single department, it essentially operates in a vacuum. Once these employees run out of ideas, the content they produce is likely to become stale and uninteresting to consumers.
Instead, bringing more people into the process results in more content ideas generated. Take, for example, your customer service workers. These employees likely have more contact with your customers than anybody else in the company – they're some of the best sources of information for the questions your customers are asking and the objectives they're presenting to your sales process.
Say your company sells website design services and that one question your customer service team gets over and over again is, "What happens once I sign a contract with you?" Instead of repeating the same response, your company can release an informative content piece – whether a short or long blog post, video or infographic – that answers the question once in a fun, engaging way.
Good content marketing campaigns involve plenty of moving pieces. Not only are content marketers expected to create everything from blog posts to viral images, they need to develop an overarching strategy and measure results to ensure that each content piece released supports these initiatives.
If all of these different tasks rest on the shoulders of a few employees, burnout is inevitable. Taking an organizational approach to your campaigns can help to share the burden among other workers, leaving key employees with the bandwidth needed to drive campaign success.
How to get started with an organizational approach? Saying company-wide content marketing is a priority is one thing – actually doing it is another. Bringing additional employees into the content marketing process isn't necessarily complicated, but you should approach it with caution to ensure best results. Simply throwing additional responsibilities at workers who haven't been a part of marketing initiatives in the past is a sure way to breed discontent.
Instead, take the following steps to onboard new employees with an ideation session:
- Set aside a half or full day for all employees involved in the new process to meet. Depending on the responsiveness of your organization, outside employee participation might be voluntary or mandatory based on departmental supervisors.
- Start your ideation session by describing the benefits of content marketing. Get new participants excited by showing them how valuable their future contributions will be to the overall success of the company.
- Use the rest of your meeting to brainstorm ideas for new content pieces. Break employees into groups, then have them work with others in the session. Spend time generating ideas for every medium or channel on which you plan to deploy content. Qualify the ideas generated. Obviously, not every idea will be the stroke of genius your company needs to succeed at content marketing. So while it’s great to let the ideas flow during your ideation session, you’ll also need to commit some time to winnowing down the list in order to move forward with the topics that are most likely to help you meet your goals.
- Hold all involved employees accountable for content commitments. Once you’ve selected the ideas you’ll move forward with, it’s up to you and your marketing department to make sure the employees who proposed them follow through. This may require a bit of hand holding at first, but early enforcement of new responsibilities is important in the long run.
- Provide coaching as needed. Keep in mind that there are a number of different obstacles possibly preventing employees outside of the marketing department from fulfilling their commitments, like laziness or overcommitment. Employees may become self conscious about their content creation skills, which could lead to delays depending on the scope of the project. If you think this may be the case with your workers, the correct response isn’t criticism – it’s coaching. Be available to provide constructive feedback and revision assistance. Be sure your employees’ contributions are recognized and praised to encourage their continued buy-in to your new content marketing program.
Moving to an organization-wide approach to content creation isn't inherently difficult, but it does require a certain amount of thoughtfulness and strategy. By keeping the above recommendations in mind, you'll be able to expand your program successfully.
Sujan Patel has championed Internet marketing and entrepreneurship for over a decade. His experience, ideas and strategies have helped 100s companies build and strengthen their businesses online. Sujan is the VP of marketing at thisCLICKS, the makers of When I Work – an employee scheduling software solution for small businesses.
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