As our followers well-know by now, Vertical Measures is fiercely loyal to our four-legged companions. We rarely go a day without one of our office dogs stopping by for a visit and brightening our day. Because I’m a full-time dog-lover and digital marketer, I’ve stopped (on more than one occasion) to think, “I wonder if adopting a dog is more difficult than adopting a culture of content for my client?”
…I’m sure you’ve also thought this many times before – right?
Before you tune me out, I can guarantee that adopting dogs and a culture of content have more in common than you might think. How do you prepare your team to accept the mindset that Content is King and critical to marketing success? How do I prepare my boyfriend that we will be adopting that Corgi from the shelter I visited three times last week?
The answers to those questions, believe it or not, are pretty similar. I’ll be diving into the five best ways to adopt a culture of content with your team – and possibly – a dog in the process (should you feel so inclined).
But first, what does a “culture of content” mean?
If you have a website, you’re a publisher, and you must start thinking like one! At this point in the game, if you’re not producing fresh content on a regular basis, you’re behind the curve. Traditional print publishers create content to survive because that’s their business. On the Internet, the same rules apply. A culture of content means thinking about content ideas all the time, and encouraging your entire staff to do the same.
Yes, Tony. We’re in this together! Content marketing success directly correlates with producing new material, even repurposing your best content, so that it reappears in a fresh form and gives you as many different opportunities to be found online as possible.
If you are to achieve any goals in your content marketing strategy, get ready for some serious effort. We understand. Getting your team to “buy-in” to the idea of creating content on a regular basis is difficult. For any person on your team, to add publisher to the number of hats they already wear requires a major commitment of time and energy.
Heck, it’s difficult for our own internal team, and we’re the content experts!
We’ve found that many businesses don’t have the budget to add more bodies to their staff in order to tackle the objectives in a content marketing strategy, so they have to juggle existing resources.
So, how can teams like yours make it work?
Top-down buy-in is critical, especially for smaller businesses. Key executives need to finally recognize that a content marketing strategy is crucial to their success on the Internet, and they need to understand that they, too, will have to participate. Once they’re bought-in, you can get the rest of the staff involved. There is a place for everyone to help create content.
Just like adopting a dog, there are steps you can follow that make buy-in easier to obtain. Let’s take a chronological look at how you can help adopt a culture of content within your company – or adopt a dog. Or both? Follow your heart.
1. Create a solid content marketing strategy
It’s hard to get your team to buy-in to content marketing if there isn’t a solid strategy in place. Just like I plan to take my future pup on plenty of walks, give her endless snuggles and treats – You must visualize your plan of attack if you want to accomplish your goals.
A strong content strategy should outline how you’ll develop, optimize, and promote your material. You need to find ways to get great content created — and keep creating it, over and over again. Then, you’ll need to be able to measure performance to determine what’s working and what’s not.
In order to get your team to adopt it, the strategy should be flexible, so it can be improved based on successes and failures of your content. These strategies should help plan the following:
- Target audience
- Who will be producing the content
- What content will be produced
- Where the content will be published
- Promotional and social engagement
- Lead generation and nurturing
- Sales and revenue increases
- Measured results
By developing a blueprint for future efforts, the plan is easier to digest and/or visualize moving forward. Creating this solid foundation makes a culture of content much easier for your team to adopt.
2. Enlist a content support system
Some of the best dog parents have a support system in place to help when raising their pooch. Live near your parents? Volunteer them to watch your dog. Have a company that allows you to bring your dog to work (#VerticalMeasures)? Let your coworkers play with your pup and tire them out before heading home.
Delegation is awesome. When adopting a culture of content, think about it the same way. You can’t do it all on your own. By forming a support system for creating content, you can tap into other expertise, opinions, insights, and ideas that you might not have working alone.
Like many of us, you may not have the luxury of hiring a complete staff devoted to content marketing, and sometimes you need someone to wear many hats if it’s not feasible to build a full support system.
The main responsibilities of a complete content marketing campaign include (but not limited to):
- Content/editorial management
- Content production
- Project budgeting, integration with other efforts
- Audience development
- Research and measurement
Use these bullets as a general delegation list for your support system. Pay close attention to your content creators! Whether they write copy, design, or edit video, they have a huge impact on your overall strategy. You may have a content producing goldmine within your company’s existing staff, and you should mine them for content or resources.
Remember, your main goal is to generate conversations with your audience. Your newly enlisted support team should listen to the target audience and begin creating content around their questions and needs.
3. Incentivize content production
How do you get the dog you’ve adopted to perform something he wouldn’t inherently want to – like sit and let you shake his paw? You give him a treat!
As much as we don’t want to admit it, our fellow humans are similar in this way. We can be motivated to do something we wouldn’t naturally do with treats.
If you’re having a hard time motivating your team to produce content, incentivize them! We’ve found the following to be effective for human treats:
- Give the person who writes the most blog posts in a quarter an extra few hours of PTO.
- Award gift cards for content that generated the most organic traffic. This will encourage strategic thinking and high-quality content.
- Add a monetary bonus to your team members paycheck for each blog post they write.
- Praise contributors with public acknowledgment and/or shout outs.
- Draft recommendations or emails to their boss about the great content they create.
- Buy them a puppy.
We get it. Creating quality content on a regular basis is hard. And along with the other responsibilities at your job, it’s easy to consider it a lower-priority without direct incentives. But, if you can get your team to stick with it, the results are proven to be stellar. In fact, our clients that adopt a content marketing mindset within their own office see significant organic improvement over time:
- After 3 months, they see an average increase in organic traffic of 20%
- After 6 months, they see an average increase in organic traffic of 22%
- After 12 months, they see an average increase in organic traffic of 66%
- After 24 months, they see an average increase in organic traffic of 167%
4. Remember, perfect content doesn’t exist
Part of adopting a culture of content is to remind your team that perfection isn’t the standard. You’ll run your team into the ground if you hold onto every piece of content, tear it down, rework it, until the quality is deemed “perfect” in someone’s eyes. There’s never a perfect puppy in the litter, although you can get pretty close:
Don’t lose sight of the main principle of content marketing: consistently publish content that directly speaks to your audience’s questions or challenges. The answers don’t need to be perfect, the content doesn’t need to be 10,000 words, and each syllable doesn’t need to be analyzed. That doesn’t mean you should sacrifice quality for quantity or consistency, but it does mean that you need to create content with the intent of publishing it on your website.
You must set the right expectations for your team. Many of them might spend so much time creating a single piece of content that they’re ultimately disappointed when it doesn’t become a viral success.
That’s simply not the way real content marketing works.
Yes, you should always strive to create content that resonates with your audience, but it’s going to be very rare that you’ll hit that home run or have any piece of content go “viral”. Remind your team that once their content is published, it will work for you 24/7 as long as you have it on your site.
Your goal should be to hit singles consistently and your traffic will grow. Spend your time and resources on creating solid content that’s published frequently.
By setting these expectations for your team, your content (and team) will continue to win over time.
5. Treasure every moment
Someday, you’ll be on vacation and you’ll have left your dog at home. And if you’re like me, it won’t take long before you scroll through pictures of that majestic hound on your phone, and your heart will literally start to break. You’ll remember all the days you spent training and practicing good behavior; you’ll remember the blood, sweat and tears it took to get that friendly companion.
And when your team adopts a culture of content, that sense of pride will be very similar.
As Arnie Kuenn always says, “every moment is a content opportunity.” To me, that means getting your team to treasure every moment and pay attention to how you can turn it into great content. Some ways we do this at VM:
- Turn the conversation your audience is having into content that solves speaks directly to them.
- Listen to the most common questions about your industry and create content that provides answers or solutions.
- Identify when you had a “teachable moment” with an expert on your team and turn that into a piece of content for others to learn.
- Paying attention to client win’s and successes, ask yourself how that happened and what advice you could give to others.
Adopting a Content Marketing Mindset
Above all, top-down buy-in means that you can look to anyone and everyone to provide inspiration and new ideas for content. Foster a fun environment where creative expression is valued. The more you encourage creativity, the more you can gain from your content. And always remember, just because you wrote it, took a picture of it or shot a video, it doesn’t mean you have to publish it. But, you have to start creating content with the intent of using it.