Last week’s Budget shone a spotlight on the need for greater investment in, and focus on, digital skills. Given the nature of our work here at Southerly, it’s a topic guaranteed to get our attention, hence our musings on the subject last week.

The impact of digital in our field has been so dramatic, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there is much more to successful marketing than knowing your way around an ad exchange or the difference between a CPC and a CPM. But more there certainly is. In reality, it takes a wide variety of skills and capabilities, brought together in harmony, to create and deliver effective marketing activity.

The Budget shone a spotlight on the need for greater investment in digital skills

This got me thinking: if you could channel your inner Frankenstein to create the perfect content marketer, what talents and abilities would they need to cover every aspect of this form of communication? What follows are my thoughts on the wide variety of competencies this superhero professional would need.

It all starts with strategy

I distinctly remember being taught the difference between strategy and tactics early on in my marketing career, and the importance of the former in successfully implementing the latter. After all, what is the point of knowing how you will get somewhere if you don’t know why you are going there or, worse, where ‘there’ even is?

Having a clear, well thought out strategy is just as important in content marketing as in any other area of business. It’s essential to understand the organisation’s position in the market, the areas of opportunity and the role of content in achieving clearly defined business and marketing goals.

So, as a starting point, our exceptional content marketer needs strategic vision and the ability to develop the right approach for the brand in question.

What talents and abilities would they need to cover every aspect of this form of communication?

Creative credentials

Even the most rock-solid content strategy will fall short without a spark that brings the ideas to life and captures the audience’s attention. Having defined the strategy, our multi-talented content professional must now turn their mind to more creative matters.

The dictionary defines creativity as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations etc.”.

Our exceptional content marketer needs strategic vision

We often think of creativity as being at the opposite end of the spectrum from strategy, and those who pride themselves on being strong in one of those areas may not feel completely at home in the other. However, rather than being opposing skills they are more akin to two sides of the same coin. It is possible to follow logical processes to come up with interesting and unusual ideas, which may explain why many well-known business people demonstrate both strategic and creative flair – all more than doable for our content supremo.

Turning ideas into reality

While big picture thinking is essential, so is the ability to plan and implement campaigns with numerous moving parts. Our prodigious creation must, therefore, have an eye for detail and top notch project management skills to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Well-known business people demonstrate both strategic and creative flair

It’s not enough for them to be a whizz with a Gantt chart, however. They will also need to be great with people, and able to manage relationships and negotiate situations to see things through to completion with the minimum of fuss.

Wizardy with words

We’ve covered the high-level aspects of the role, so now we need to get down to the nuts and bolts of content production. First of all, our perfect content marketer will have a way with words and a gift for producing a wide variety of copy, from snappy social posts to long-form content like white papers, and everything in between.

As well as being a wordsmith in their own right, they must also be able to spot an errant comma or missing apostrophe in someone else’s copy at a hundred paces. Being an eagle-eyed proofer or sub-editor is an essential skill in any editorial role, helping to safeguard against embarrassing and potentially costly mistakes like these well publicised examples.

A visual virtuoso

Of course, strong writing is only half the story when it comes to great content; the other vital element is eye-catching design. Our wondrous being will therefore possess the soul of an artist and the ability to produce stunning visuals using the latest digital tools.

Strong writing is only half the story when it comes to great content

The next Spielberg

You don’t have to look far these days to find evidence that video is a powerful marketing tool which deserves careful consideration as part of any content strategy. So, alongside first rate illustration and graphic design skills, our all-star content guru will also be able to produce storyboards, direct video shoots and seamlessly edit footage to create digital masterpieces. Oh, and they will have to be a talented animator – not too much to ask, surely?

Reaching the audience

Having produced all of this amazing content, the next step is to ensure it’s visible to the target audience, and that calls for a range of entirely different skills.

Social media is an obvious starting point when it comes to distributing content. Our personification of content marketing perfection will know their snaps from their tweets, and be able to plan and implement multi-channel social activity that hits the right note with the relevant stakeholders, no matter their age, location or profession.

They will also have the ability to engage with influencers in a way that creates a positive outcome for all parties. And, as if that’s not enough, they will understand the mechanics of email marketing and be able to effectively utilise this channel in their mission to share their content with the right people.

Implement multi-channel social activity that hits the right note

Test and learn

And last, but certainly not least, our content leviathan will take measurement and reporting firmly in their stride, using analytics tools to assess the results of their activity against agreed goals, and adapting their ongoing work accordingly.

I don’t know about you but I, for one, am tired even thinking about this vast list of requirements. Of course, no one person is ever going to be an expert in all of these areas, but it does go to show the wide variety of skills required to deliver successful content marketing. Food for thought when planning your next foray into the world of content.