I’ve been fascinated by previous articles about content marketing team building and, especially, the frequent emphasis placed on recruiting ex-journalists to your content marketing team.
However, I think content marketers are overlooking a significant resource: former teachers. Here are some of the general characteristics that make experienced educators excellent candidates to fill a content marketing job.
1. Teachers are explainers
Teachers are used to explaining concepts and processes quickly and clearly — even when under pressure. They’re accustomed to condensing their body of knowledge into a concise, appropriate response and qualifying their answers based on a querying student’s background and level of experience.
Their empathy and ability to quickly respond to questions like, “What caused the Civil War?” with relevant answers suitable to the grade levels of the students they’re dealing with is precisely the type of mindset content marketers need to address clients and customers at different stages of the content marketing buying cycle.
2. Teachers are planners
As has been mentioned in numerous previous articles, many content marketers find it difficult to create an editorial calendar or content marketing plan to guide their day-to-day efforts (or they fail to do so at all). As a result, content marketing efforts are frequently characterized by the stress of “deadline madness” and the last-minute mistakes and lost opportunities associated with this frenzy to create content.
However, experienced teachers are familiar with the need to prepare discussion topics and subtopics in advance. They’re used to creating daily, weekly, and semester-long lesson plans to guide their class through the learning process. Lesson plans are part of their job description, after all! They’re used to taking a long-term view of their subject, and view education as a result of the progressive revelation of information.
As a result, whether on a full-time or part-time basis, teachers can bring a fresh mindset and good content planning habits to your content marketing efforts.
3. Teachers know the proper ways to conduct research
Until recently, I had never realized the value of the research mentality I developed while preparing my history honors thesis and my independent study courses in college. The research tasks I learned as a would-be historian are the same tools that I use today to help clients plan and write books, eBooks, sales guides, and white papers.
A teacher’s research-focused skill set often includes:
- The ability to locate, summarize, and track information: The competency they likely gained by using index cards in the classroom is easily translatable to the use of tools like spreadsheets and mind maps in a content marketing setting.
- Organizing ideas: Knowing how to conduct research isn’t enough to build a persuasive discussion. Teachers and content marketers must both be adept at consolidating, evaluating, organizing and presenting information as a series of logical arguments. Whether you’re providing your audience with a fresh look at the Battle of Britain in 1940 or with the information they need to purchase a printer, the same organizational tools are used to take information and build it into a convincing and engaging story.
4. Teachers believe in measured progress
Teachers don’t look for “silver bullets” or last-minute solutions — they view success from a longer-term perspective. Unlike marketers, they’re less interested in finding the “perfect” formula for headlines, blog titles, or email subject lines. Rather, they are accustomed to producing solid benefits — even if they need to be built slowly and consistently over time.
5. Teachers are quick learners
Teachers often excel at mastering the basics of new topics at a minute’s notice. For example, in primary and secondary education, a math teacher may be asked to fill in for an absent history or English teacher (and vice versa), so they need to be able to shift gears and implement new topics and processes quickly to address emerging informational needs. Sounds like a content marketer’s ability to incorporate a new technique, or focus on a new topic based on the latest audience data, doesn’t it?
6. Teachers are used to the “battle for attention”
The best teachers are not speakers, they are engagers. They aren’t lecturers looking for passive acceptance of their lessons. Rather, they share stories and ask questions to elicit responses from students and engage them in discussions on the day’s material. They introduce and describe relevance at the start of a lesson, and provide summaries to reinforce messages at the end. Equally important, they’re skilled at preparing assignments, exercises, and quizzes in ways that are most likely to capture and hold their students’ attention — all habits, skills, and tools that are correlated with content marketing success.
7. Teachers are relationship builders
Recently, my wife, Betsy, had lunch with her favorite grammar school teacher, Miss Handley, whom I have been hearing about for over 25 years. The teacher had made such a huge and memorable impact on Betsy that when they reconnected on Facebook, they immediately planned a reunion lunch.
All of us can name significant teachers from the past. In some cases, the bond was forged on the quality of the information the teacher provided. In more cases, I suspect, it was because of the way the teacher made the student feel. Often, it’s a combination of the two.
And, isn’t the goal of content marketing to build relationships? Not only does this require content marketers to learn how to share the right information, but also how to make our prospects feel empowered and optimistic after the transfer of information!
Content, teaching, and marketing success
One of the best arguments I can present for hiring a teacher for your next content marketing job opening involves a lesson on business success that I learned from Gary Keller’s Amazon.com Author Page.
As the founder of Keller Williams, America’s largest real estate franchise, Gary Keller has become one of the most successful businessmen in the country. On his Author Page, Gary credits the “teaching mindset” as the basis for business success. In his words, (although I added emphasis and organized his words as a list):
Professionally, Gary’s ‘ONE Thing’ is teaching:
- He excelled as a real estate salesperson by teaching clients how to make great home buying-and-selling decisions.
- As a real estate sales manager, he recruited agents through training and helped them build their careers the same way.
- He built Keller Williams Realty International from a single office in Austin, Texas, into the largest real estate franchising company in the United States by using his skills as teacher, trainer, and coach.
Gary defines leadership as ‘teaching people how to think the way they need to think so they can do what they need to do when they need to do it, so they can get what they want when they want it.’
Isn’t this what content marketing is all about?
Do teachers belong on your content marketing team?
So, do you agree that ex-teachers, or teachers looking for projects to work on during their sabbaticals or summer vacations, might have a place on your content marketing team? Do you already have former teachers on your content marketing teams? How’s it working out? If you haven’t worked with teachers, what are some of your concerns? Share your questions or hesitations below, as comments.
Looking for more advice on building your content marketing team? Check out what the experts had to say at Content Marketing World 2013. Access to a wide range of presentations is available through our Video on Demand portal.
Cover image via Bigstock
I absolutely agree with this article. As a former Reading and English teacher myself, my organizational and lesson planning skills easily transferred over to my current job as a content specialist. As I tailored my lessons to my audience (in three groups of learning levels per class), so too I craft applicable content to business audience segments. My former teaching colleagues would undoubtedly perform well as proposal writers and content marketers.