Directors of Content Need These 4 Elements in Their Content Marketing Team Today

In any given week, most content marketing teams have a mountain of radically different outputs they’re working on: a webinar for the lead generation team and an SEO pillar page, a thought leadership byline for media placement, and email copy for a drip campaign… the list goes on. Almost every goal an organization has for customer engagement requires content. That fact can easily overwhelm the content marketing team.

But content directors can dramatically increase the odds of delivering the content quantity and quality the organization needs. The key is to build an effective content marketing team by focusing on four essential elements that allow the team to work as cohesively, efficiently, and creatively as possible. Those elements are skills, talent, processes, and structure. Let’s look at each of those.

Element #1: Skills

The sheer variety of content types and delivery platforms available today has exponentially increased the range of skills that content marketing teams need to access. Top of the list has always been strong writing, editing, and visual design capabilities.

But that’s not necessarily all. Today’s content marketing teams also need to tap into a range of specialized skills. A few examples include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO), including the tools to identify keywords relevant to the audience and the techniques for writing web copy and blog posts to increase the chances of SEO ranking.
  • Social messaging for platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as niche communities like—each one has slightly different word counts and copy requirements, and all of them reward visual creativity with static and dynamic cards.
  • Video and audio design and editing to create content such as client testimonials, tutorials, or brand introductions.
  • Marketing technology capabilities so that the team can leverage available pieces of technology, such as setting up the content to track performance in terms of the number of visitors, views, clicks on a call to action (CTA), or other relevant performance metrics.

Not every content team needs each of these capabilities in-house, nor is this an exhaustive list. The point is that content directors need to identify the capabilities they need and prioritize them to ensure their talent mix can meet the organization’s goals.

And while we’re talking about talent…

Element #2: Talent

Once you know which capabilities to prioritize, you’ll need a talent strategy to access them. In this case, “talent” refers to the people available to complete specific tasks. They don’t have to be in-house staff, either. Gartner advocates for balancing “build,” “buy,” and “borrow” approaches to accessing the capabilities you need:

  • Build refers to developing skills in existing staff
  • Buy refers to hiring new staff to perform key roles permanently
  • Borrow involves leveraging contractors or agencies for certain work

The right approach depends upon the specific skill and the resources the content director has at their disposal, all with the goal of accessing key capabilities as efficiently and flexibly as possible.

Element #3: Processes

Most creators follow steps or enact rituals to develop ideas for a piece of writing or a visual design. Those steps and rituals are processes. Well-run content marketing teams need processes for everything. Beyond the creative process, content teams need to create templated processes for:

  • Content requests
  • Content request evaluation
  • Project approval and prioritization
  • Project rejection and communication

You’ll want to understand how an approved content project gets “staffed.” How do you decide who does what? And how do those people know what they need to do, in what order, and by when?

Processes allow content marketing teams to answer questions and execute projects efficiently and consistently, delivering high volume and high-quality outputs without overwork or heroics from team members.

The ones without a process not only take longer to do everything and produce less of lower quality, but they also risk wasting time and resources on content projects that are ill-defined and unaligned with business goals.

Don’t be that team. Embrace processes. Even better? Leverage technology to codify and execute them.

Element #4: Team Structure

Just as processes facilitate efficient and high-quality work, the right team structure facilitates coordination and collaboration between relevant team members on critical projects.

The needs of the business will often inform the structure. For example, suppose an organization has individual business units dedicated to specific industries. In that case, the content marketing team may create a structure that aligns its writers to dedicated verticals to take advantage of or build subject-matter expertise.

Alternatively, if the organization is highly product driven, it might align content marketing team members to develop outputs to raise awareness or consideration of specific products or functionality.

Though a great structure helps, an “imperfect” structure can often be overcome when there is a strong culture of collaboration and communication to ensure team members work effectively together and with stakeholders.

Combining the four elements

There is no single way for content directors to build and run their content marketing teams. The right fit depends on the organization’s content needs, audiences, and business goals. Those factors should dictate the optimum combination of skills, talent, processes, and team structure to realize the content strategy.

To read more ideas to boost your success as a content director, download Contently’s Content Director Playbook.

Image by treety

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