Will content marketing change your marketing department forever?

Sonja Jefferson
Company Director
Valuable Content
Blogger
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It is now widely accepted that content marketing is the type of marketing that works best today. Everyone is doing it – from giants like Intel and Coca Cola to one man bands like consultant Mel Lester, and every size and type of company in between.

A commitment to this new form of marketing means a new set of skills for many businesses. Producing and sharing valuable content on and off the web involves customer research, design, SEO, social media, video production, email marketing, web development and mainly writing. There’s a lot to learn and do and it pays to be prepared.

So how will this affect your marketing department?

The need for writers and content specialists

Content marketing means writing more often and in a different way to old-school marketing and advertising. It’s about sharing your knowledge and expertise in a helpful, informative and entertaining way.

Look for writers, content specialists or ex-journalists to help you create all this valuable content. As well as writing skills they will need insight, empathy and curiosity to ask the right questions, to understand and respond to your customers’ issues and deliver your unique message. Specialist content consultancies and agencies like ours here at Valuable Content are new additions to the marketing services landscape, formed to deliver and coordinate the multiple tasks involved.

“While you may cut media, printing, mailing, and call centre costs from your marketing budgets, plan to replace them with well-paid writers and analysts.”

…says Christopher Butler author of The Strategic Web Designer at www.newfangled.com @chrbutler

Given the direct impact of content marketing on business growth and profitability, the costs can be justified.

Top team commitment, company-wide involvement

Success with content marketing takes top team commitment and company-wide involvement, for it’s your organisation’s knowledge that needs to be brought to the surface and turned into valuable content. This is a marketing approach that is too important to be left solely to the marketing department.

Your leaders, your experts, your technicians, your marketers, your customer service people, your sales team – these are the people whose expertise becomes valuable content. You know your business and your clients and customers better than anybody and it is your ideas, your voice that need to shine through. Marketing with valuable content gets much more of the company involved in business development – even those who didn’t feel they had the ‘sales and marketing skills’ to participate in the traditional way. The companies that get the best payback from their efforts work hard to get a wide team engaged.

“I went around and spoke to people about the new marketing approach, and told everyone that we all needed to write. I made sure that the impact on each person was low to start with – just one blog article per month from each department. It helps to share the load.”

…says Nick Roberts, MD of The Landmark Practice @tlpblog

Not everybody will find coming up for ideas and content easy but with the right encouragement and training you will unearth content stars in your business that shine through. These people can become skilled valuable content creators that others can learn from.

“If your in-house experts struggle to write then have someone else interview them to produce valuable content. The resulting documents should bear the name of both the writer and the expert. Sharing the credit doesn’t diminish the reputations of your experts.”

…says Mel Lester at www.bizedge.biz @mellester

Outsourcing vs. insourcing content production

Up-skilling your team and doing as much as you can in-house makes economic sense but outsourcing is a valid option if you struggle to find the time, skills and resources to do it all yourselves. Outsourcing some activities will lessen the load.

Hinge Marketing’s recent study of online marketing in the professional services arena showed that almost a third of firms (31%) outsource at least part of their online marketing functions. In most cases, these firms are using a mixed model in which part of the online marketing is done in-house and part is outsourced. Help with writing or editing e-newsletters, blog posts, online articles, white papers and e-books is one of the most frequently outsourced functions.

Make someone responsible

Whether you do it in-house or outsource, someone in your business needs to take overall responsibility for telling your organisation’s story through the valuable content you share, and this person needs the support and commitment of the board.

The US Content Marketing Institute (CMI) believes that every company should now employ what they call a Chief Content Officer.

The Chief Content Officer oversees all marketing content initiatives, both internal and external, across multiple platforms and formats to drive sales, engagement, retention, leads and positive customer behavior.

…says Joe Pulizzi of the US Content Marketing Institute @juntajoe

We back Joe’s Pulizzi’s clarion call for this important new role. You can find Joe’s useful job description for the role of Chief Content Officer here.

Build your marketing department for content marketing

Valuable content is vital to the future of your business. It requires senior-level responsibility and skilled coordination to make it work. Build your marketing department around the new skills and processes needed to help the organisation create and distribute the high quality, valuable content your customers demand.

What skills and roles do you think marketing departments need for the future? Anything I have missed?

Further reading

You will find more ideas on how to make content marketing work for your business in our forthcoming book:

Valuable Content Marketing – how to make quality content the key to your business success

Published by Kogan Page in October 2012; available for pre-order on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

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