Content marketing remains one of the smartest investments a startup can make in the growth of their company. However, it’s not necessarily “cheap,” as it takes a large investment of time and/or money to be effective. Too often, companies try to kick off content marketing efforts with a barebones team.
They set out and hire a writer and expect one individual to run all of their content marketing. Or they have their marketing manager hobble together a couple of freelance writers to start cranking out content without any other thought or support.
There just one problem. This almost never works.
First of all, in order for your content marketing program to be successful, you need to build a cohesive team that can work together toward a common goal. Freelance writers can be great, but they need to be brought in as part of the team rather than simply treated like a vending machine for blog posts.
Secondly, it takes way more than just words on a page to win at content marketing.
Four main content marketing roles to fulfill for success:
- Strategy and planning
Before a single word is written or a single post is published, you need to have a clear vision for the strategy and plan of your content marketing. I’m not talking about just having a running list of blog post ideas. I’m talking about a strategy.
- Why are you investing in content marketing?
- How will it help you meet your specific business goals?
- Who are your target personas?
- What metrics will you use to measure your success?
- Where will you find/reach your target audience?
Someone needs to own this part of the process. It could be your marketing manager or director, but they will need to be given the time and resources to do it and not have it piled on top of an already full workload.
- Content writing
Of course, the central function of any content marketing team is the content creation: writing, in most cases.
But the role of content writing shouldn’t be given to just anyone who can put words on a page. There are plenty of “writers” out there, but they also come in many different stripes.
In particular, you need someone who is skilled at writing content, likely for the web. You need someone who knows how to craft engaging stories and format them for the modern reader. This is likely different from someone who has broad copywriting experience, experience as an advertising copywriter, or fiction/literature writing.
- Design and photography
No one wants to stare at a giant block of text on your blog. You need visuals, graphics or photographs to break up your text and make it more visually appealing.
This could be accomplished with a dedicated designer or someone who can use guided design tools like Canva. Whoever is in charge of doing the design for your content marketing likely needs to be able to read and understand the content that you’re writing, then distill its messages into meaningful and informative graphics.
This kind of information design often requires a different set of skills from other forms of design.
- Outreach and promotion
Lastly, you need to do something with your content once it has been created. Per your content marketing strategy, you should have at least a broad plan as to how you will promote or distribute your content and through which channels.
Someone will need to be in charge of doing this actual work. It can be tedious and time consuming. In some cases, it may dovetail into a broader social media marketing strategy. Either way, the point is that content promotion can’t be an afterthought and in order to do it well, you need to dedicate time and resources to generate results.
All together, this could easily be a team of four people running your content marketing.
Understandably, this isn’t feasible for all startups. In some cases, it’s possible that you could fulfill all of the roles of a successful content marketing team with a team of two or some combination of full-time employees and freelancers. But, it’s not likely that one person can own all of these functions. Unless they have a truly huge set of skills, chances are that one person trying to juggle all four functions will be mediocre (or worse) at most of them.
It can be tempting to cut corners or to overload people with tasks. But keep in mind that poor content marketing doesn’t create value, which makes it an expense. It’s like lighting money on fire, in many cases.
Invest in executing content marketing the right way and it will more than pay for itself.