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Building the Content Marketing Team to Take You to the Promised Land

The most effective content marketing teams are assembled from a strategic mix of talent with a strong “chief storyteller” at the helm. Content strategist Barry Feldman shares his tips and techniques along with those of other industry leaders for building a content dream team.

building a content team

Thou shalt create content.

The marketing prophets have spoken. Us disciples have work to do. We need to put our heads together and work as a team. But wait a sec. You can’t work as a team until you have team.

You with me? If your company is a part of the massive majority focusing its efforts and resources on marketing the modern way—content marketing, that is—a serious challenge before you is creating a content marketing team who can take to the highly competitive game and come out a winner.

Tough stuff to be sure. Let’s attempt to uncover the qualities of the most effective content marketing teams, smart ideas for assembling yours, and trends that may help inform your decisions.

You need different types of talent.

No matter what type of team you set out to build, you don’t want to stack it top to bottom with redundant talent. The roster of highly accomplished teams comprises a variety of talents that complement each other.

Jayson DeMers, of AudienceBloom, who delivers content marketing advice with guest blog contributions for a number of prominent publishers, suggests the most successful content marketing teams have talent in the following four areas.

  • Business strategy. To be effective, content marketing strategy must integrate into your core marketing goals. Your content marketing team must thoroughly understand the market, how your company is to be positioned, its goals, and how success is measured.
  • Online marketing. Your content marketing team must include an expert who can get the content discovered by potential customers and influencers. A wide range of skills come into play, which at a minimum should include SEO, social media, email marketing, and guest blogging.
  • Client communications. Your content marketing team will benefit from someone adept at interacting with customers. Jayson writes, “Your ability to intuitively understand clients, to answer hard questions, and to judge whether a specific channel or piece of content is right for them will be infinitely better if you regularly interact with the people you serve.” He suggests having someone like this work closely with your content marketing team.
  • Content creators. You need a strong writer, or several, who understand your business and can consistently produce great content.

(Jayson’s tips are featured in a post on Search Engine Watch.)

You need a leader.

Every team needs a leader and content marketing teams are no exception. In a post about assembling a team and workflow, Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi draws from his book, “Managing Content Marketing” (co-authored by Robert Rose), to present a list of responsibilities of the “chief storyteller:”

  • Content/editorial management
  • Design approval
  • Web/print/event resources for content marketing
  • Project budgeting, integration with other efforts
  • Contract negotiations
  • Audience development
  • Research and measurement

Pulizzi adds, a second leader, a managing editor—with solid writing and editing experience—will perform the most critical role in the process.

Joe writes, “Often the managing editor comes from a journalism, PR/communication or copywriting background. No matter what, if a marketing department does not have an appointed managing editor, they do not have the commitment to build a real content marketing machine.”

Where do you find your teammates?

Start with your employees because they should know your niche better than anyone. Enlist internal contributors whom you can rely on to build relationships and trust with prospects.

You’ll also benefit from tapping into resources from outside of the marketing department. In doing so, you’ll gain additional perspectives, which will make the content strategy more well rounded, engaging and interesting. Look to professionals in operations, design, customer support, and any others capable of helping create stories your customers can relate to.

Of course, most marketing departments also engage the services of freelancers, especially writers (who often possess journalism skills). What’s more, because a healthy mix of quality content will include various types of content and media, teams will recruit inside and out for professionals with graphic design and video production skills.

Another option is to look at outside sources to build up your newsroom. Some excellent platforms and tools are available to help. According to iAcquire and ClearVoice co-founder Joe Griffin, “The content marketplace and platform landscape is diverse and changing. When considering outsourced content, many companies look to buy content on a one-off basis, but the newer breed of platforms help brands build long-term content partnerships with subject matter experts. This becomes increasingly important as brands develop better content destinations.”

Some great team building tips.

Content marketing software leaders Kapost set out to create the first guide to building a content marketing dream team and delivered a true gem with “The Content Marketing Hiring Handbook.”

The handbook, authored by my friend and sometimes collaborator Jean Spencer, does a deep dive into how to structure your team, who to hire, and smart questions to ask. The eBook also presents useful research findings and tips from three experienced and accomplished content marketing team leaders.

Joe Chernov, VP of content at HubSpot’s tips include:

“Look for candidates who can quantify their impact on the business.”

“Content marketers need to think on their feet, write cogently, and produce quality content independently. They need to have a nose for subjects people care about.”

content marketing team

Kapost asked 500+ marketers how many people man their content marketing teams and found more than 90 percent have 10 or less. The most common team size is two to five members.

MarketingProf’s Ann Handley, the industry’s first official chief content officer, contributes this valuable tip:

“Appoint a strategist.” Ann claims your first hire, whether or contractor or in-house, must understand big-picture strategy, have the authority to make decisions regarding budget and content ideas, and understand the key role that audience plays.

The Kapost eBook says nearly half of B2B marketers report hiring a writer first. Handley recommends seeking a journalist for this position.

Jason Miller, senior director of global content marketing at LinkedIn, offered a series of tips focused once again on writing skills. Jason claims the best candidates:

  • Write every day to continuously refine their skills.
  • Have high standards and are capable of creating content that inspires, educates and entertains.
  • Have solid online identities and are active in social media.
  • Are multi-dimensional marketers skilled in integrating traditional and new media tactics.
  • Can show a “sizzle reel” of engaging content.
  • Read blogs and books to keep up with content trends, tactics and news.

Meet a typical (but highly talented) team.

I chose the word “typical” only because of size. Kapost’s content marketing team is currently seven strong (just two years after being just one person). In what is a really interesting section of their eBook, Kapost presents its team, including bios and main responsibilities.

Their talented team is made of:

  • Senior director of content marketing
  • Senior managing editor
  • Two content marketing managers/writers
  • Community manager
  • Web/interactive designer
  • Videographer

Top trends in content marketing hiring.

Had enough? I didn’t think so. Here, for additional insights into how marketers are building content dream teams, is an information-packed infographic from Kapost, based on their research.

Content Marketing Hiring InfographicBrought to you by Kapost

 

Did I miss anything? Let me know. I’m all ears.