The greatest challenge facing content marketers is the production of the content itself. The 2010 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Study shows this clearly: The biggest content marketing challenge identified was “producing engaging content” (36 percent) followed by the very similar “producing enough content” (21 percent) in second place.
For content to be effective, it needs to speak to the authentic challenges and issues that customers face. And it becomes very daunting for content marketing teams to uncover these customer issues day after day and produce compelling content.
How then can content marketers better understand customers and produce great content? The answer comes in a message we’ve heard before most recently articulated in the McKinsey Quarterly article, “We Are All Marketers.” All across the organization, employees are meeting with customers and developing insights into customer challenges. For companies to succeed in content marketing, they must engage the entire organization and use its collective knowledge of the customer to power content production efforts.
The process: Tying your knowledge into your content
Converting an entire organization into a content marketing machine is no simple task. Buy-in at the highest levels is necessary to make such a comprehensive program work well.
Let’s discuss the critical processes and priorities involved to mine organizational knowledge for content marketing success.
Submission / Filtering: A process must be established whereby:
- Employees can easily submit content marketing concepts
- Content marketing teams can easily filter them and respond. They need to provide clear guidelines on what type of submission they are looking for, and they must be able to give fast feedback to submissions.
Production: Pairing employee and content expertise: As content marketers gather insightful concepts from employees, they should then pair an employee (who likely does not have content production expertise) with one of their writers. Writers can produce drafts and then get feedback from the employee on issues like technical accuracy.
Closing the loop: To keep the employee fully engaged, the content marketing team should inform the employee the progress of the project. For example, they should give updates on when the content gets published or provide insight into how it’s performing (e.g., number of page views, number of retweets, number of leads, etc.). The employee who produced the content concept should have the satisfaction of knowing how his or her efforts are impacting marketing objectives.
Employee recognition: Generally, employees will only participate robustly in a company-wide content marketing effort if they have the proper incentives.
This “voluntary” contribution to the content marketing program should also be recognized during regular employee reviews. Helping the company in its content marketing efforts should benefit employees in their career development and compensation. Scorecards and tracking need to be in place to support this effort.
You can even put initiatives into place that turn this recognition into a fun and competitive part of your office culture.
Imagine a leader board organized by department that measures who makes the greatest contributions to company-wide content marketing success. Employees or departments could earn badges and other rewards for helping to generate more leads and more sales.
Connect the organization to the conversation
Rather than relying on the one percent of the organization that operates your content marketing efforts, 100 percent of your workforce should be incentivized to play a part. The knowledge of the full organization — coupled with the right processes and systems — can yield the insight that can foster greater content marketing success.
Of course, the benefits of such a program go beyond even content marketing itself. Businesses today realize that the heart of their existence lies in how well they interact and communicate with their customers. It is in this interaction that innovation is born, morale is boosted, and customer problems get solved. But when organizations grow bigger, employees often become too detached from this conversation. As a result, innovation and morale suffer.
Through the wonder of the Internet, we’ve all been drawn into the global conversation. The essence of content marketing is in how we participate in that conversation to win customers. Integrating your entire organization into the process not only improves your chances of success but it also helps you tap into those crucial customer interactions that are so vital to innovation and employee morale.