B2B marketers who are in touch with the needs of their buyers understand the key role that interesting, valuable, engaging, creative content plays in initial engagement and the subsequent development of a relationship with a buyer.
But whilst understanding the concept; creating a content strategy and calendar, perhaps even appointing a project manager are all smart and vital steps, they do NOT guarantee success.
Not by a long shot.
As content development specialists we are often called in when the grand plan has failed to fire, or perhaps by a smart B2B marketer who just knows that DIY content is just beyond their internal capacity.
We’ve found that firms who are most successful at sustaining a rapid pace of high quality content creation are the ones who have fostered a content culture within their organizations, even those who have engaged with external specialists like ourselves. Here are our top tips for creating a lasting content culture.
Enable anyone to contribute.
Creating content shouldn’t be reserved for the marketing team. It’s smart and natural to want to have a guiding hand in setting content strategy and control over consistency and message tone, but that doesn’t mean the entire burden needs to fall on your shoulders.
Enable anyone in your organization to contribute content, from sales, to customer service, to R&D and senior management. Getting content that highlights different perspectives and different areas of expertise make your content arsenal more well-rounded. It’s especially good to get perspectives from those people who regularly speak to your target buyers. They “get” the buyers’ wants and needs and can reflect them in your content.
To make it easier for everyone to contribute, create guidelines they can follow to make it more likely their content fits your publishing standards. Get your content specialists on your team to train those interested in contributing content. Often people have a lot to say, they simply don’t know how to start. The tyranny of the blank page is very real for many people. Show examples of what good copy (and bad copy) looks like.
Your marketing team can then act as “editors” who brush up the content you receive so everything that’s published aligns with the tone, style, and other guidelines you’ve established for your brand. Increasing efficiency and quality – win-win!
Encourage different content formats.
Just because people know they can contribute content, doesn’t mean they will. Many are put off because they think they have to sound smart (or worse still, they try too hard to sound smart), whereas really what you are after is content that sounds authentic and interesting and communicates a message clearly.
Let employees contribute to your content calendar in ways that best suit their talents. That could mean they create a video, an infographic, a SlideShare presentation, present data they’ve researched, or stick with the written blog post we all know and love.
Explain the benefit of being a published thought leader.
One of the most important parts of changing the content culture at your firm is for the leaders to embrace content, celebrate and reward those staff members who get published; to create a company culture that celebrates content creators. Leaders should communicate the benefits of being a published author. Its a real benefit to both employees AND the firm employing them, to have content published under their name. It establishes both the staff member and the organization as thought leaders. Here are a few benefits you can tell them to look forward to, the more they author and publish amazing content:
- Authoring content gets their name – and how smart they are – visibility with important people, both inside and outside of your organization.
- Being a published thought leader helps them move upward within the company, and grow their careers.
- If they’re in a sales or a customer-facing role, it helps establish credibility with leads and customers.
- The content is a built-in online portfolio they can refer to years down the road.
- Their content might lead to future opportunities, like speaking engagements, or being quoted as an expert in other publications.
Tie content to results.
While enabling and encouraging content creation will help get people started, it won’t keep people going in the long term. To keep your entire company enthusiastic about the importance of contributing to content creation efforts, use numbers to communicate the impact it has on your business.
Its much more concrete to communicate that a blog post generated 500 page views, 20 inbound links, 3 new leads – one of which is poised to close this week – than to say, “Fred wrote a really interesting blog post last month.”
If staff members can see for themselves how their content is directly contributing to important company goals, like hitting marketing’s leads goal, or sales hitting their quota, you can bet people will be much more interested in creating content. It’s a good feeling.
Think carrot not stick.
Some content is going to stand out among the rest – perhaps it really strikes a chord, or it generates an unusually large number of leads, maybe it gets picked up by a publication or maybe, just occasionally it even goes viral. Reward the content creator for their innovation and brilliant execution, so you encourage other employees to strive to create this type of content.
Reward these employees in a public way at your next company meeting, or in an internal email or newsletter.
Generate some healthy competition.
Sometimes a little friendly competition is all you need to get your company into the content creation spirit. For instance, let’s say you’re interested in getting more content about a particular subject matter on your blog to prepare for a product launch. Hold a contest to see who can write the blog post on that subject matter that gets, say, the most views, and reward the winner with a gift certificate. With a friendly competition like this, you’re winning on all fronts. You’ll get a higher volume of content, from a diverse set of people, on a subject matter that aligns with your goals; employees will get their name in flashing lights, some more thought leadership attached to their name, and maybe, a little cash too.
Get the boss blogging.
Remember that your company culture comes from the top down. If you want to foster a culture that encourages content creation, that needs to come from the top down, too. Employees will model executives’ behavior. So if the CxO isn’t blogging, some people might still blog; but if the CxO does create content on a regular basis, can you imagine how deep any other employee would have to dig to come up with the excuse for not also contributing?
What tips and tricks have you used to get the broader company involved in content marketing?
You may be interested in a couple of free eBooks that address the topics of content marketing and blogging in particular. We would like to encourage you to download them.