We’re all fully aware of how content marketing is shifting the way brands prioritize their creative resources. From scaling production of high quality content to creating socially engaging tactics that align with your demand-gen objectives; content marketing is how brands scale growth. Marketing teams build reputations around thought leadership and influential best practices while also reducing overhead for their companies. And it’s all built around great content.
However, as more companies shift into the content marketing sphere, teams must continuously review, optimize, and differentiate their strategies from other thought leaders in their space. Often there is an underlying rush to reinvent the wheel, which can result in content that is misaligned with the overall marketing strategy.
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Great content marketing teams are supported by great leaders. A content marketing manager or director of content reviews the goals of the organization and aligns the content team with those objectives. Content leaders help their teams with the creative process and establish unique yet valuable voices to stand out in an oversaturated industry. Leaders identify new paths to scale growth while ensuring all content remains on point with the brand tone and business objectives.
In this post, we’ll identify how great content marketing leaders empower their teams to become more dynamic and effective in their roles within an organization.
What Is Great Leadership?
Excellent leadership is an indispensable quality. Leadership, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the power or ability to lead other people.” This aligns with the similar perception of leadership as the power or ability to inspire others. A content marketing leader empowers their team to achieve common goals.
As much as content marketing has infused our lives, it is an industry still in its infant stages. This means leaders can inspire their teams to embrace their creativity and execute tactics that may be considered “unconventional” in more established industries.
However, visions considered unconventional by the masses are often looked back upon with greatness over time. Odysseus inspired the Greeks to use the Trojan Horse, a very unusual tactic that led to a massive victory during the Trojan War. Abraham Lincoln’s vision for an America where all citizens are equal helped end slavery and changed the country following the American Civil War.
Effective leaders have the ability to inspire their teams with visionary strategies and tactics. Effective content marketing leaders must do the same by helping their teams understand the impact of content for an organization. To provide this assessment, leaders must build their vision by defining the content strategy.
Define Goals and Strategize
Your goals as a content marketer should align with the broader goals of the marketing team. Those goals should reflect the overarching business objectives of the company as a whole. While building your strategy, always ask the question – how will the content created by the content team help achieve the company’s business objectives?
The ultimate goal of any marketing team is to move users through the funnel. Always think about the consumer journey and how your marketing campaigns best help people navigate that journey. Keep in mind a few marketing tactics that can help you provide value to the end user:
- Build a reputation as a thought leader
- Grow your total traffic to attract new potential customers
- Encourage customers to share your content and advocate for your brand
Make sure you have a documented content marketing strategy. According to CMI, 53% of B2B marketers have documented content marketing strategies and are subsequently more effective in their roles. On the flip side, 40% of the least effective marketers have no strategy.
Define Your Market
Marketers with little experience often make the mistake of casting a wide net attempting to reach anyone and everyone. The idea is that the more people you go after, the more likely you have people who will convert into paying customers.
However, leaders recognize that this tactic is flawed. Companies are simply unable to appeal to every potential prospect with their content, their product messaging or brand positioning. This is why data and research helps teams carve out a small section of the broader market to improve results. A high conversion rate from a small group of targeted prospects is more effective than a low conversion rate from a broad pool of people.
As you build your team’s strategy, ask yourself questions such as:
- What specific function does my product serve in the market?
- How does my product set itself apart from similar products?
- Why are people interested in my market?
- What types of terms or phrases trigger interest from prospective clients?
Answers to these questions help you define the market and the types of people within that market that are most valuable to your brand’s goals. This will help you find your niche and exploit it.
Research Your Competitors
Great leaders have inspirational visions but those ideas don’t come out of thin air. As a leader, you must understand the lay of the land.
Conduct a competitive analysis and determine how your content will stand out from the rest of the competition. Document your findings and work with other members of your team (product, support, sales, and senior leaders) to construct a content marketing plan that works.
You should know who your competitors are, their strengths and weaknesses, their similarities and differences to your brand. You need to set yourself apart from the opposition in order to be successful. Your documented competitive analysis will not only help you identify the gaps where you can create valuable content around, but also help other teams in your organization better understand what really makes you stand out.
Identify Your Personas
Teams need to know who they are creating content for to make the material effective. Use the documentation from your market and competitive analyses to build profiles of your targeted personas and share those profiles with the rest of your team. This will help everyone involved in the creative process stay focused and on track.
Think of your audience personas as your content marketing map. Each piece of content and the messaging within the material should be aligned to at least one of these personas. Consistency in your messaging helps those targeted prospects recognize what your brand stands for and the value you can provide.
As people see more of this type of messaging, they will begin to interact with the content and learn more about your brand. Find out who is most interested in your brand by reviewing your analytics such as click-through rates, pages per session, and any comments that are provided by the user. Share this data with your team. This way everyone is inspired to create more of the types of content that work.
Effective leaders establish workflows that others can follow. These workflows and processes help teams stay organized as new projects are added to the pipeline.
Create a content hub to manage all the actions of the content team. Insert all relevant data from your competitive research to your persona mapping. This way everyone on the team can access the information in one convenient location.
Label every task and assign each responsibility to the appropriate member of the team. This will help everyone on the team remain up to date with a documented workflow.
Interact With Your Team
The most effective leaders are the ones that work closely with their teammates to produce the best content possible. The creative process is about brainstorming new ideas with others, which allows ideas with the most potential to be put on the table. Leaders are often the most experienced members of a team but new content marketers often provide fresh ideas that can yield value.
Be open to your team’s ideas. Every member of the content team should feel inspired to participate in the creative brainstorming process. The actions and tone of the leader allow teams to share their ideas but team members may be sheltered or reserved if they feel uncomfortable with the leader’s style.
Brent Gleeson, writing for Forbes, described 4 tactics that leaders can follow to improve the culture of a team.
“Anyone leading a team who believes they are above getting their hands dirty won’t last long. Professional development for any leader is critical, so why not leverage the amazing talent you’ve hired and learn from them?”
Internal communication – Feedback and Direction
Remain approachable and friendly to your team. The best leaders are able to provide feedback in a beneficial way, which is often called constructive criticism. Provide direction to team members to help them grow and become more effective content marketers.
A leader inspires their teammates to learn from mistakes yet remain undeterred from their goals. Establish weekly 1:1s with each member of your team to provide personal feedback and direction. Additionally, these sessions help teammates share their questions or concerns in a safe, secluded environment. When team members feel safe, they are more comfortable and more likely to produce quality content that makes an impact.