No matter what angle you look at it from, content’s sole job is to help people.

It should help your customers solve their problems, keep up on what’s happening in an industry, stay a step ahead of their competitors, impress their peers, and find solutions.

It should also help your marketing and salespeople do their jobs.

While the question “What comes first, your people or your content?” sounds like a chicken-and-egg scenario, it actually reveals an important cycle missing from some content marketing programs.

A core tenet of effective content marketing is: The content your team produces should be highly valuable and relevant to your target audience. And while I’m a huge proponent of letting customer insight drive content marketing strategy, it’s a risk to not leverage the insights of your own people, too.

Telling your marketing and sales team to do their jobs with the content you happen to give them is like asking an electrician to do his job with a squeegee.

Let the experts tell you what content they need to do the best job they can. Then give it to them.

Your Employees Are People Too

Your customers know themselves. Your employees know their jobs. Your content map should acknowledge both of these things.

Your people are in the trenches with customers, and they’ve acquired unique knowledge from this firsthand experience. Don’t overlook this.

One of the things I typically do in the Diagnostic stage of the Horizon Peak Consulting process is talk to marketing and sales team members. I find they often have insight about their customers I couldn’t possibly get from the customers themselves — simply because they’re looking through a different lens.

Sometimes I find gaps in the asset lists — a certain kind of content a team could use but doesn’t have access to. Sometimes I find gaps in topic coverage — a team is answering the same customer questions over and over, and would benefit from a set of educational content around that topic that they could send out to eager prospects.

Arming your people with content that positions them to succeed starts with soliciting their input. Find out what’s working for them and what’s not — what content is useful and what content they don’t use at all.

Humans Are the Center of Your Success — Make Them the Center of Your Content Marketing, Too

When it comes to your content, think about the humans you are creating those resources for and who must put those content tools to work.

Solicit feedback frequently from your marketing and salespeople about what’s working and what’s not — and listen, listen, and then listen some more. Decisions around the content you’re creating should be driven by data, a deep understanding of your target audience, and the insight of the people who are using the content to do their jobs.

Otherwise, creating content is just throwing money down the drain.