Content marketing is one of the best ways to build lasting rapport with current and future customers — not to mention that it’s shown to bring in more quality leads than traditional advertising. But even the best content strategy will be useless if your team members can’t carry it out or, even worse, don’t understand it.
Of course, no one in any organization understands all the reasoning and processing that goes into each business decision. But it’s important for every single employee to know the value of content marketing and his or her role in creating content.
A good content marketing strategy brings together different groups and departments to paint a comprehensive picture of the capabilities your business offers, so getting everyone from marketing to finance to HR on board is key.
Do these six things to not only get buy-in, but also optimize team engagement:
1. Make “Content Marketing" More Than Jargon
Like any department, marketing has its own lingo — and words like “content marketing” are often viewed as meaningless from those outside the practice group. Build trust around content marketing initiatives by defining and discussing your top-line strategy, what you want to accomplish with it, and real-world examples that apply to it.
When you explain content marketing in universal terms, the importance of the initiative will become much clearer to your team. This builds trust, which will ultimately increase buy-in for and engagement with the work.
2. Speak Your CEO’s Language
CEO buy-in is imperative, and CEOs tend to speak more in numbers than in words. Appeal to your CEO’s need for visual, measurable ROI by bringing data to the table that showcases the value of content marketing.
Show (rather than tell) her that this approach attracts higher-quality leads than traditional advertising. Cover your action plan, and outline what will happen within the first 90, 180 and 365 days.
3. Clear Up Misunderstandings
There’s a misconception that everyone supporting a content marketing initiative must be a great writer, but that’s not necessarily the case. Yes, you need a good writer somewhere in the process, but the initial focus should be on gathering compelling, novel and relevant content for your audience from a credible person in your organization.
This content mining can be done through a recorded verbal interview, a written list of questions to answer, or the development of an outline. Then, the writer can step in to organize that person’s ideas and edit them down to the most compelling nuggets that make sense to publish.
When you work with your time-stretched CEO to develop an article, spend only five to 10 minutes picking her brain to get verbal answers to flesh out. Then, create an outline, flesh out those ideas and talk with any other subject experts she recommends to beef up the piece. Once the final version is finished, get her approval.
Make sure leaders understand this process so they don’t assume they’ll be on the hook for composing a great piece of literature that requires hours of their limited time.
4. Create a Solid Content Calendar
Empower your team to create content with a clearly defined calendar that rotates through thought leaders and keys in on their specific areas of expertise. You might start with a blank calendar at a staff meeting and ask people to sign up for three pieces throughout the year and write down topics they’d like to write about. Or you can assign these yourself based on expertise, timeliness, trending topics and target publications’ editorial calendars and ask to be flagged should a time or topic clash.
No matter your approach, what’s important is that you make it clear that you’re a readily available resource for any support that’s needed — whether that means providing a list of tough starter questions, tapping an editor to clean up free-form thoughts, or securing outside research to back up claims.
5. Facilitate Boundaries for Content Creators
Even if your designated content creators are using one of the above methods for efficiency, it’s still a time-consuming process. Make it easier on everyone by encouraging them to set boundaries when it’s their turn to create content.
One of my friends recently started blocking off 1-3 p.m. every day to work on content development. It’s understood in his organization that no one can talk to him during that time. Encourage your content creators to set boundaries like these, whether it’s a specific time period or a designated “quiet room” where they can create content undisturbed.
This type of work requires a deep level of focus that is quickly lost with distractions — and it’s incredibly hard to get back. In fact, it can take the average worker 23 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption in the workplace. Is that time spent getting back in the zone really worth a 90-second conversation about the new office coffeemaker?
6. Build a Bonus System
After successfully creating a particularly good piece of content, reward your employees for the extra time and effort they put into its development. You can measure its success through online engagement like shares and comments on the article or blog. Whether this is an actual monetary reward or simply purchasing a cupcake for your employee, she will feel appreciated for taking the time to shape the business’s image and bring in more quality leads.
Content marketing is the future of advertising, public relations, and marketing. It’s a way to build relationships with your customers via a value exchange. But for content marketing to be successful, you have to have buy-in and engagement from every area of your organization. Prove the value, provide structure, and support content creators, and you’ll secure that team buy-in you crave.