This blog post has been updated from its previous version published on October 29, 2015.
Congratulations! You’ve finally convinced your C-suite that it's time to invest resources in content marketing. That decision is the first step to upping your marketing game and transforming the way your company achieves its goals, so give yourself a quick pat on the back.
To land that investment, you've had to identify your specific goals and start asking the kinds of questions that will shape your strategy — questions like "Who's our audience?" and "What does success look like for our company?"
This can help you make sure you're asking all the right questions and laying the foundation for a solid strategy.
Before you dive into creating content, though, you're going to want to build a professional team. Notice that I didn't say "You're going to want to stretch one person really thin with all this responsibility on her own," or "You should know that winging it is totally fine! It's just content marketing — should be pretty easy stuff!"
Content isn't a one-person operation, and executing it well requires some experts who know what they're doing. If you're serious about generating measurable results from your efforts, then a team is essential.
You can put the time and resources into building an in-house team, or you can outsource your content marketing to an external partner. You can even meet in the middle and hire a person or two to manage your company's relationship with your agency partner and to collaborate on projects.
However you assemble your team is up to you. What's important is that your team is made up of the right people with special skills that will drive your strategy forward.
At Influence & Co., our content marketing efforts are powered by groups of small client service teams called pods. Each pod member brings a very particular set of skills to his or her small team, and together they help our clients save a ton of time and achieve their unique content marketing goals.
Each pod has its own name, functions in ways that are unique to its members, and operates fairly independently of other pods. This structure creates a system of transparency, autonomy, and efficiency, and it’s been a huge success for our company so far.
And what has made the pods so effective is the people and positions within each: an account strategist, a content strategist, and a pair of editors. Although we prefer the “souls, not roles” mantra made famous by the holacracy structure, below is a breakdown of the typical responsibilities of our different pod members:
Our account strategists manage client relations for our clients in a variety of industries. Each AS is responsible for maintaining communication with his or her clients, conducting kickoff calls and interviews, scheduling and enforcing deadlines, and representing the client to other pod members throughout the relationship.
Content strategists develop the meat of their clients’ strategies by researching, writing, and delivering customized content plans. They’re pitching topics for articles and other content projects, reviewing client answer sets, and determining which publications the client should target for guest posts.
Pod editors work with our network of expert freelance writers and designers to create content. From article outlines and initial structural and grammatical edits to a round of client revisions when necessary, pod editors are responsible for ensuring each piece of content produced for a client elevates the client's strategy and aligns with his or her voice.
Final editors perform the final round of edits on a piece of content for specific style and publication guidelines. Once they’re finished, every comma is in its rightful place, every dash and semicolon is used appropriately, and every name and word is spelled and styled correctly.
(This two-tiered edits system increases the quality of our content by accounting for the tendency we all have to eventually miss the errors in things we’ve read multiple times already.)
These roles aren’t set in stone, and it’s up to each pod’s members to assess when and how they can help each other throughout the content process. They’re all working to accomplish the same goal: produce the highest-quality content to help clients achieve their specific objectives.
These four people make up the typical client service team in our pod structure, and they're the ones working most closely with our clients — but they're not the only ones working to advance our clients' content strategies.
As they say, it takes an agency to raise a content strategy. (That's how that saying goes, right?) Everyone in our agency stands behind our pods, consulting with them each step of the way — basically turning Influence & Co. into a powerful extension of our clients' marketing teams.
Because of the nature of the work they do, these specialists remain separate from the pods, but the pods and these specialists still work together. Here are the positions that help the pods carry out their clients' strategies:
Once an article has made it from ideation in the content strategy to review and final edits, it’s ready for a publication strategist to review and send off to the editor at the target publication. Our pub strategists have relationships with editors at more than 1,500 publications in more than 20 industry verticals, and they're key to helping our clients (and our internal thought leaders) get published online.
The digital marketing and SEO strategist develops custom packages that align with a client's specific search goals and consults with pods to build content strategies that achieve those goals. He performs keyword research and technical analyses to identify content opportunities and conducts website audits to make sure that nothing on a client's site could be hindering its SEO success.
The public relations team consults with pods and clients working toward specific PR goals and maintains relationships with media contacts who help us reach those goals. Our PR strategists are responsible for working with pods and clients to assess brand positioning goals and identify opportunities to secure press mentions in relevant publications that reach a client's audience.
Behind the scenes of it all is our custom content marketing software, which keeps our processes running smoothly. ICo Core makes it easy for our pods and clients to work together on content. All in one place, clients can view the status of any piece of content, review and collaborate on development, and check out analytics once content has gone live to view performance.
Depending on your company’s needs and content strategy, you may want to include more or fewer team members and positions — or even completely different roles. Whatever structure and team players you need to execute your strategy and reach, engage, and influence your target audience is what you should consider pursuing.
If you’re looking at this huge team and feeling overwhelmed, that’s normal. Determining whether to hire for or outsource your content marketing efforts is a difficult decision. Regardless of your choice, set yourself up for success by ensuring your team features the content marketing players your strategy demands.
I love cloudy days, office supplies, and rewatching the same sitcoms I've already seen a dozen times. When I'm not looking for ways to elevate content, I'm looking for opportunities to tell stories about my dog.