How to get your wider organization involved in content marketing

by on Sep 17, 15

Organization Content Marketing Alignment

Content marketing truly is a team effort; in fact, many companies are now putting dedicated content marketing teams in place. However, to be successful, content marketing teams should call upon support from across the organization.

Organizational buy-in for content marketing is important because customers are smart; in particular, customers of B2B enterprises are often experts in what they do. Without a technical background, how are you going to give them a meaningful post about medical devices or semiconductors? To create effective content you need to be able to speak with the right level of knowledge and detail, which only increases as prospects progress through the customer journey. To deliver this level of insight, content marketers need to go straight to the source: the subject matter experts in the organization.

This blog post will look at:

The Organizational Content Marketing Team & Their Roles

Subject matter experts might be engineers, product developers, legal experts, sales reps , customer success reps, analysts, event planners, human resource managers, marketing managers, social media managers and more. It can even be helpful to bring in the CEO or other VPs to show how the organization values the team effort.

How do you get these subject matter experts involved? There are a number of ways;

  • Ideation: Constantly seeking out new ideas can help keep your content strategy relevant and timely. Your entire organization can contribute ideas for blog topics or help curate interesting articles for social posts. Sales (and perhaps even social media) will know the questions the best prospects and customers are asking most. Product management can provide insight about what new features, products or services are about to be released and why. Customer support will be able to tell you what assets are needed to help keep customers happy.
  • Writing: The wider team can help create blog posts, either writing them directly or providing subject matter expertise to a writer/ghostwriter. If you can have drafts created by experts, you are potentially at a huge competitive advantage to those relying on outside writers. Tip: Make sure to get commitment as to how much people from the wider organization want to contribute and what turnaround times can be planned into the workflows.
  • Editing: Team members can help out with editing each other’s posts for accuracy as well as tone.  Perhaps pair an engineer with a sales team member to help massage the initial draft into a cohesive story. Then, send the draft off to marcomm to ensure it is told in your brand voice. Tip: However you plan this, make sure that someone from the content marketing team is responsible for moving the workflow along to keep it on track and plan these structured workflows ahead of time.
  • Approval: Sometimes multiple levels of approval, like for legal, technical expertise or brand guidelines is required. Tip: Make sure to cover off any questions about how to ensure these approvals are included as part of structured workflows.
  • Publishing: Get your social team involved so they know what’s coming up and how they can plan this into their own publishing schedule as well. Perhaps even get your agencies or internal design/web teams involved for streamlined publishing across all your channels. Then plan these additional steps into the workflow, either as part of each content type or part of a multi-content type meta campaign workflow type.

Winning over the team

How can you introduce content marketing to your team and convince others to participate? After all, content marketing was most likely not in their job description.

You can start by either asking different departments to sponsor members to join the content marketing team or having individuals volunteer themselves. But, how can you get them excited to actually be involved? Here are a few ideas:

  • Create customer delight: Aligning content with the right amount of detail relevant to the audience and customer journey stage creates customer delight. Everyone likes to be part of creating customer delight.
  • Build your personal brand: Help your team members build their personal brands and status as thought leaders by putting their name and photo as a byline in blog posts, articles or ebooks they contribute to.
  • Get recognized and rewarded: Work with management to ensure that participation is recognized and rewarding by the company in performance reviews and perhaps linked to additional bonuses. (Using Marketing.AI, you can track progress on everyone’s activity—how many ideas they’ve added, how many content items they’ve written and even how that content performed.)
  • Networking: Offer the opportunity to network more inside your company. In addition to getting a chance to work with colleagues in a wide range of job functions, maybe the CEO or other VPs will even join in on some of the team meetings giving team members who wouldn’t otherwise collaborate with the C-suite this opportunity to network.
  • Professional development: Can content marketing help any of your team members with professional development credits they need? By joining this team, maybe the company can help sponsor these credits if they can benefit content marketing.  Lots of professionals require these types of continuing education credits including lawyers, engineers, project managers and some are even offering content marke-specific credits such as CLE credit courses teaching lawyers about blogging or PDU credit courses teaching project managers about digital storytelling and content marketing.
  • In Demand Skill: Team members will gain new skills and will keep their resumes highly relevant with a new skill set that is a growing need for companies everywhere. According to a recent survey by SkilledUp, 94% of the marketing professionals said it is critical that content marketing be part of a company’s business strategy, but more than a third (34%) of respondents said they have a difficult time finding job candidates with content-marketing skills.
  • Fun: Maybe there is a special annual thank you dinner or retreat for team members? What about cool swag and snacks?

How often should you hold meetings with your organization-wide content marketing team?

We recommend holding a high level editorial planning meeting quarterly. You might also hold a shorter, more update-focused content marketing meeting monthly (in fact this would work well as a monthly virtual meeting).

How do we do it?

Quarterly: At Marketing.AI we re-evaluate overall themes and objectives on a quarterly basis where we plan out our blog topics and larger content items like whitepapers, ebooks and e-mails. Greg, our CEO, plays a key role in setting the high level strategy for what we want to say which is pulled into general themes. We also set composition goals by stage of the buyer cycle, for instance prioritizing support and success content over awareness or interest content if need be.

Monthly: On a monthly basis we supplement the high level strategic planning with blog post ideation and assignments. The entire team is welcome to participate in this ideation. Understanding the themes and buyer cycle makes our monthly editorial planning easy, since we can easily look at our theme-cycle grid to see content gaps which allows us to focus our time on coming up with these topics. In fact, there are often plenty of topics to choose from to fill the gaps already in our Idea Bank—we just sort the metadata by theme and cycle stage.

Ongoing: We plan some of our social posts in advance to match the quarterly and monthly content releases in our editorial calendar.  But, since social channels need to stay highly timely and relevant, the entire team is constantly adding ideas to our Idea Bank so that we can post things within a week or even on a “real time” basis (i.e. for events, conversations, news).

In general, our editorial planning process is always ongoing (especially the ideation part), but it’s always good to book the regular monthly/quarterly editorial meetings to stay on track.

What should you cover in your content marketing meeting?

Once you have your team in place, it’s time to hold your first organization-wide Editorial Planning meeting.  What should you cover? Here is a sample Editorial Planning meeting agenda.

Sample Editorial Planning Meeting Agenda

Total estimated time: 1 hour.

  1. Objectives: Let your team know why you’re doing content marketing and what you’re aiming to achieve. This is helpful for the next meeting when you show the results and can put them in context. (5 mins)
  1. Metrics to Track Progress: Based on your objectives, what metrics are you using to measure success? How do you break down these KPI’s? Let everyone know what their efforts can achieve.(5 mins)
  2. Target Audience: Your organization likely has numerous target audiences—how do you break this down? Are there particular personas you are focusing on? (10 mins)
  3. Quick look at the competition: While you shouldn’t focus on what others are doing, if you are introducing content marketing to your team it can be helpful to show it in context of what others are doing as well. By briefly looking at some of the things competitors are doing, this can show some of your non-marketing subject matter experts hard evidence of why they need to be involved. (5 mins)
  4. Your themes and buyer cycle stages: Start prepping your team for brainstorming! What themes are you targeting? Explain the buyer cycle and why it’s important. (10 mins)
  5. Brainstorming: This is the heart of the meeting. It can be helpful to remind your team of the different types of ideas they can pull from.
    • How To’s
    • Customer FAQs
    • Problems you solve / painpoint awareness
    • Solution specs – presented in a fun way with a storytelling narrative (e.g. what can a customer do that’s special)
    • How your offering is unique
    • Tips for maximizing investment / getting the most out of what you sell
    • Industry research and trends
    • News / Upcoming announcements
    • Events & community involvement
    • Who you are / the brand
    • HR/recruiting need
    • Trivia & interesting facts
      (30 mins)
  6. Theme-Cycle: Now, take these ideas and put them into your Theme-Cycle grid. Anything missing? See if you can freestyle it with the team to fill in a few of the blanks. (15 mins)
  7. Next steps: Let your team members know they can be expecting notifications for assigned work—whether it’s helping with writing, editing, or approvals. And, make sure they know how to access the Idea Bank and shared Editorial Calendar. (5 mins)
  8. Questions and Ongoing Ideation. But wait, there’s more! Your team can continue to ideate even after the brainstorming meeting. For example, directly through the Marketing.AI framework,  Chrome extensions or mobile app. You might want to set some goals for ongoing ideation or turn this into a game or competition for the next meeting.

Tips for holding the content marketing meeting

Depending on the type of organization you work in, you might want to schedule these meetings as “lunch and learns”, bringing in sandwiches, coffee and other snacks so that it’s fun and doesn’t cause anyone to feel like they will fall behind with their regular commitments. You may also choose to hold virtual meetings depending on where your team members are located. Over time, you might mix it up between virtual and in person sessions.

Tips for in person content marketing meetings

Book a conference room and before the meeting create a chart that everyone can see on a white board or wall (such as with masking tape or fun washi tape in your brand colours): the columns are your buyer cycle stages and the rows are your themes. Give the team sticky notes to add ideas to. We also have idea note pads you could use to collect ideas from the team. (Request them from your account manager if you want some J)

Get everyone to furiously write down ideas onto the sticky notes and then find the right place to stick them in your Theme-Cycle grid. Stop every 5 minutes and review the grid together. Any blank spots?

Once you have your initial set of ideas, your marketing coordinator or content marketing manager can upload the ideas directly into a framework like Marketing.AI. As the content gets planned and completed, you will see the Theme-Cycle you planned on the board, updated and displayed in the Marketing.AI system as planned and existing content within the software’s Theme-Cycle, with attached analytics.

Tips for virtual content marketing meetings

Do you have a global team? Want to hold monthly virtual check-ins in addition to quarterly in person meetings? You can hold your editorial planning meeting virtually via a meeting service such as GoToMeeting or WebEx. In this scenario, you can encourage all team members to login to Marketing.AI during the meeting. Have your moderator keep the ideas page open and switch back and forth between idea list view and Theme-Cycle view. Have your team members add their ideas in real time! Or, if they’ve been adding ideas on an ongoing basis, you can use your Idea Bank to build out the calendar and also view past analytics together. This also saves time since no data entry is needed—the next step is simply to push these ideas to your calendar and schedule in the workflow.

How can you keep ideation ongoing between meetings?

You never know when a good idea might strike, which is why ideation should be an ongoing process. Give your team a number of ways to add ideas to your Idea Bank so they choose the way they prefer to work.

Here are a few ways Marketing.AI can support ongoing ideation:

  • VIA THE MAIN DASHBOARD: Just click the ‘Add Idea’ button from anywhere in the calendar.
  • IN OUR CHROME EXTENSIONAdd Idea’ as Text, Link, or Image using the Marketing.AI Chrome Extension.
  • THROUGH OUR WEB FORM: Configure an ‘Add Request’ web form for your company.

Got everyone on the same page?

We hope this has given you a few more ideas to get your entire organization involved and excited about content marketing. With all of the information available throughout your own team, we know this will help prove just how effective your content marketing program can be.

Good luck with your meeting! 

If you’d like to see a demo of how Marketing.AI can support your organization-wide content marketing team, sign-up for a free trial today.