The launch of a content marketing initiative is filled with creative thinking and purpose. Content strategy is meticulously plotted out and optimized. Audience research is conducted and analyzed. Writers are vetted and recruited. Topics are first brainstormed and then built out. There is a lot going on.
It’s an exciting process, and it takes a lot of focus and energy for even the most ably-equipped marketing department to do it right. Luckily, this isn’t something that one department needs to face alone.
Moving Parts Need Many Hands
You can’t build a cohesive and agile content marketing machine in a vacuum. While you can decide upon strategic decisions, brand objectives, and KPIs within the comfy confines of your marketing realm, the operationalization of at least some of that content strategy needs to be carried out by others within your organization.
You’re working with your development team to ensure that your content will have a place to live and that there will be a way to track its success. You’re brainstorming with sales to tailor content to your audience. You’re asking your social media team to help you plan and carry out your social media marketing blitz at launch. This is a massive undertaking and important to your organization. All hands must be on deck.
When you’re ready to flip the switch, you want to be sure your sleek content machine purrs like a kitten.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a number of these frenetic ramp-ups and have been consistently impressed at these seamless partnerships. It’s amazing to see multiple siloed departments coming together in pursuit of a common goal.
But after a content site is launched, the champagne popped, and the pats distributed to the various deserving backs, things invariably return to normal. Marketing, of course, soldiers on ahead, but those key cogs described above have to get back to work—other work. It’s not like they’ll be much help to you now anyway . . . right?
The End Is Just Another Beginning
The prevailing mindset after an exhaustive launch? “Good job everyone! This successful cross-departmental collaboration is now over. Let’s all get back to work and move on with our respective lives.” This makes for some pretty efficient one-and-done company-wide projects. But content marketing programs aren’t static—they are constantly changing and growing over time. Perhaps your initial audience persona was too narrow in scope, or your social media marketing efforts were targeting the wrong platform or too few.
If you want your stories to truly embody your brand, you will need them to be able to evolve. To do this you’ll need a continuous stream of support from the entire company to keep things moving forward.
Image attribution: WoCinTech
Build Team by Focusing on People
Think back to your very first encounter with content marketing. Maybe the concept felt a tad antithetical to your role as a marketer. No product tie-ins? No brand mentions? You’re kidding, right?
But as you fell deeper down the rabbit hole, the value of building an awareness-based content strategy slowly revealed itself. Direct relationship building. Enhanced consumer trust. Increased brand recognition. That appreciation, however, probably didn’t blossom at first blush. You took time to learn more, ask questions, and observe the process.
Now think back to how you introduced content marketing to your organization. Surely you spent some time explaining the objectives of your content program. A lunch and learn here, some meetings with assorted department heads there. But that’s often as far as it goes.
Successful content marketing isn’t like a product launch or advertising campaign. It’s always on, fluid by nature, and more than likely a big change in the way your brand promotes itself. If you’re counting on that change to expand and exist beyond your department, you have to educate people about what you’re doing, how it works, and where they fit in.
Educate, Don’t Just Delegate
According to Deloitte, successful organizational change needs to be about more than just the associated actions: “Rather than thinking of change in terms of processes and tasks, it can often be more meaningful to connect the change with the people behind those tasks.”
So while that overview you gave to the whole company over pizza was well intentioned, it may have not resonated through the pepperoni-induced euphoria. But don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s a good start—it just can’t be where it ends.
Consider this an opportunity to hone your burgeoning content marketing chops. Target those departments you know you’ll need now and down the line and fill in the gaps. Talk to sales about lead generation opportunities. Expound upon all the content social media will be able to leverage. Whatever you do, just make sure you do it in person. It may sound a bit trite or silly, but people like to feel valued, and they are far more likely to pitch in if they know that it’s to their mutual benefit.
Converting your skeptics into allies won’t happen overnight. You have to be constantly working to win their support and keep them on board. Building this foundation is critical, and it should help you turn your loose association of company-wide contributors into a confederation of brand champions for your organization.
Want to learn more about how to get the most of out the creative thinking and know-how of other departments across your organization? Stay tuned for Part II of this series where we will look at the vitality of a continuous collaboration with your social media team, Part III where we explore how to partner with sales to hone your audience persona and level up your content, and Part IV where we discuss the best ways to secure and maintain buy-in from your digital team.
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Image attribution: Startup Stock Photos