As a content marketing strategist, I work with many agencies across the country to get their content plans in shape. And a common scenario I tend to hear about in my initial meeting with a new client often looks something like this:
They convinced the C-suite to invest in a content strategy plan and they spent countless hours developing it. They defined the audiences, weighed the pros and cons of having white papers and webinars, constructed production processes, convinced contributors they can write, and persuaded everyone emailing their expertise isn’t SPAM. They created a content team full of experts with varied perspectives from across the firm.
Two months later their plan fell apart. The editorial meeting is consistently pushed, there’s a backlog of overdue posts, and writers are saying they need to prioritize client work. There’s nothing new to put in the next blog digest email.
One of the biggest hurdles for marketing managers pursuing content marketing is consistently involving everyone who really should be involved. That initial excitement as the plan is unfolded won’t be sustainable without real engagement across all departments. So how can you get team buy-in for your content marketing?
Close the confidence gap
When a team is asked to follow a plan they weren’t a part of developing, you’ll likely spend much more time explaining the details and convincing them why they should spend time and energy on it. Ideally, you would have involved team members from very early on, when developing the plan. Who better to give you the insider scoop on your audiences than the people who spend time with them every day; your sales and/or account team? Who better to think through the pros and cons of content structure than your UX designer? Bringing team members early into the process and giving them an opportunity to contribute their expertise makes the end goal clearer.
If the plan was developed without their input, set up a kickoff meeting and give yourself plenty of time to discuss and possibly revise parts of the plan. This also allows you to sell the decisions you made when developing the plan.
Most importantly, keep your team updated on the score of the game. Show your writers specifically how their writing is changing web analytics for maximum engagement and lead development. Keep track of wins, such as a prospective client mentioning they love your blog or a high conversion rate on your latest white paper. Show how their work is growing the company and producing the type of leads they themselves want to work with.
Keep your agency stakeholders involved
Your content marketing strategy doesn’t affect just your content writers. Developing a content marketing plan often comes hand-in-hand with revisiting your positioning, defining your ideal right-fit prospect, and determining which services you want to promote or grow.
Thus your ideal content team includes not just writers but also stakeholders, such as people in New Business or your Social Media Manager. Your meetings shouldn’t just be deciding who is going to write what and when; it should include sharing data insights and aligning business goals with messaging. Is there an exciting service being developed? If so, can your writers begin writing about it now and begin to set yourselves up as experts? Having a diverse team brings in different perspectives of your business and the different approaches will keep your content ideation fresh.
Treat your agency like a client
For agencies, it’s easy to put away content plan work for the sake of ‘client work.’ This logic makes sense. Why spend time on work that isn’t paid? We could write an entire article on why agency marketing is a duty that is critical to success, but we’ll stick to the time commitment of the plan.
When tackling regular content production, try to think creatively about “creating time.” If writing is a hurdle, consider putting two thought leaders in a room and recording their conversation for a video or audio post (or break the recording up into several posts). The transcription of the recording will leverage SEO for your post’s page and the team dynamic will shine through for prospective clients. If a writer is busy prepping for a pitch, consider having someone interview them for fifteen minutes, transcribe it, and use the interview format as a post.
Our own content plan aims for each team member to work approximately eight hours a month (roughly one business day), assuming a five-person writing team. While having too many writers can be a logistical nightmare, you also don’t want two or three writers dedicating an inordinate number of hours to this content plan.
If you feel like you can’t get your team to reliably stick to your content marketing strategy, it’s possible you’ve fallen prey to one of these three common mistakes. It happens! To get yourselves back on track, remember to re-align the team with the original goals of the content plan, and employ these few tips to keep the team motivated for the long haul.
Coming back to your content plan’s primary goals – to produce strategically-focused content regularly – should help your team prioritize the time they have carved out for your content plan.