My Content Marketing Moment of Truth
My marketing moment of truth? The first one came during a product marketing meeting which I, brand new to the company, and in earnest enthusiasm had requested. We’re building a content strategy, I said to the team of three. Uncharted waters for this company, how exciting to be at the forefront, I tell them and myself.
“We will be the first to pave the way for content marketing done right here at Moon River Software!” I practically shout.
“Do you have your fall plan ready to share?“ “Any new releases?” “New messages?” “Industry trends?” “Competitive intelligence?” “New persona/market segment information?” “Social media insights from the previous quarter?” I continue. (All of these things are helpful to build an effective content strategy.) Two sets of eyes rapidly blink, the voice on the phone was silent. There was nothing documented. No new trends. All I needed to know, they say, is our audience is highly technical and as service providers, only care about ways to help them grow their business. Nothing else.
I finally won them over and several weeks later had enough information to get started, but…it was an indication of things to come. I could sense I lacked their buy-in. They really wanted to keep doing things the way they’d always been done.
What Not to Do When Launching Your Content Strategy
Here’s what I’ve learned about being a content strategist: in spite of multiple Content Marketing World conferences and Content Marketing Institute classes, HubSpot and Marketo training, Google AdWords and Social Media training, no amount of related education prepared me on how to overcome the resistance and lack of buy-in that I encountered.
The reality is that content marketing and content strategy are fairly new disciplines and many marketing leaders say they want it, claim to embrace it, but executing on it is often a different story. When you’re new at a company, creating a new strategy in a fairly new marketing discipline, you need to know one thing. It is going to be an enormous challenge and many of you will fail.
To be fair, I also made a few mistakes, some of which I’ll share now so that you, my fellow content marketing strategist, can be successful.
Here’s what NOT to do, especially when you’re new to a company:
- Don’t get bogged down in writing or reviewing copy; this is a writer’s or editor’s job.
- Don’t take on every project thrown your way, try to prioritize and stay focused on the big picture.
- Don’t take this role unless you have the ardent support of your executive leadership; get their commitment to participate in meetings and ensure they understand and believe in what you’re doing before accepting the job. (You’ll need their help in executing on your strategy later.)
- Don’t forget to listen, learn and document the company’s overarching goals, including financial targets from marketing.
- Don’t let a chaotic organizational culture consume your productivity and deter your focus. After you’ve been at the company for a bit, be strategic about your time management. Let the fires burn, decline meetings, be bold to stay committed to your plan and deliver on your timeline.
- Don’t complicate things. Don’t try to re-create formats or reinvent the wheel at first. Focus on creating a content map, identify what’s missing, and create those assets. You’ll also want feedback from sales, marketing and product marketing about what they want and need.
- Define and document the criteria for success—both for your strategy and for your anchor content pieces.
- Don’t forget to update and repurpose the content that’s already there.
- Don’t ignore your company blog—or other social media channels. Nurturing that social media channel with compelling, helpful and educational content can bring results with helpful content. Work in tandem with your social media strategist to provide the content and messaging that will resonate most powerfully with your target audience.
- Don’t ignore the international market and team, most of who are hungering for localized content (which is more time consuming to create but more effective for them).
The Big Digital Marketing Takeaway
In hindsight, I believe the ideal content strategist should not be brand-new to the organization if content marketing is also a new practice. It simply takes too long to understand the nuances of the company.
Launching a successful content strategy is a vast topic and a huge undertaking. Content is the foundation of all you do in marketing, including social media marketing. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or in a corporate setting, there are lot of elements you need to consider—including analytics, creating and documenting your strategy in tandem with an integrated digital marketing plan, how to execute and measure success with your current team, determining which marketing tools you will likely need. But your first—and most critical step—is ensuring buy-in throughout your organization starting at the top. This requires soft skills, persistence, an effective presentation style and strong dose of content chutzpah. (In other words, believe in what you’re doing.) #StayStrong #ContentMarketingWorks
A content strategist should not be brand-new to the organization if #ContentMarketing is also a new practice. @swordmaven
Continue the Content Conversation
In my next blog, I’ll share tips for entrepreneurs and how to move forward with a realistic, easy-to- manage content strategy that helps generate awareness, leads and revenue. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @swordmaven. And let me know if you have topics or insights you’d like to share by posting them here.