Answer: Writing skills.
The Internet has changed everything. Today’s marketing is driven off the written word. Text is the catalyst that drives everything — Search, PPC, social media, email, etc. In a content driven world, if your marketing team cannot write well, you will not be successful.
Marketing and sales leaders can end the struggle to produce content for Lead Generation. The answer is simple.
- Expect your marketing team to write.
- Inspect their work to drive success.
- Equip them with tools to succeed.
This article provides the insight and access to tools to make a successful transition.
The Struggle to Add Content Marketing as a Capability
Acquiring content writing as a skill for your team cannot be done the same way other skills have been added.
I spent a good part of my career in marketing including leading account teams for an advertising agency as well as directing corporate marketing. When marketers need to add a new capability, we typically do it one of three ways;
- Invest in training/developing an existing staff member.
- Fill the gap with a new staff position.
- Outsource the gap to a trusted partner.
This approach worked beautifully for adding new capabilities in the past. Marketers responded to shifting trends by beefing up capabilities such as SEO, SEM, email marketing, and social marketing. Content Marketing came along and we tried to add this capability and it didn’t work.
Today’s marketing is content driven. Writing is a ‘horizontal’ skill required across the marketing team. Similar to expecting strategic thinking capabilities across your team (vs. outsourcing strategic planning), writing is an essential foundation to success.
1. Set Expectations for Superior Writing
Sales Benchmark Index has an incredible amount of Inbound Marketing content. Marketing and sales leaders compliment me all the time on the depth and quality of content produced.
Inbound Marketing is a corporate priority of SBI. This is voiced clearly by our leadership. Thought leaders within the firm are selected for writing assignments. Writing enhances career opportunities within the firm and we have a nice bonus involved. We are provided with writing tools and Personas. Our content is graded for continuous improvement. Failure is not an option.
- Set clear expectations that strong writing is required throughout the ranks of the marketing team. Squish the common mindset that a dedicated staff writer does all the writing for the department.
- Sit down with your team to discuss expectations. This article gives you expanded insights into why we are here today, what has changed, and why a transformation is required.
- Celebrate small wins. Recognize those with strong writing skills and find the correlations between performance and campaign results.
2. Inspect Success
It is human nature to respect what is inspected. Evaluate the quality of writing with a content evaluation tool. Provide your team with instant feedback by grading each content release. Below you will see an example content grading template. This level of continuous improvement produces consistent positive progression.
Click here to receive a copy of SBI’s Blog Content Grader Tool.
3. Give Your Team Tools to Succeed
Let’s face it, we haven’t expected our teams to write well. Marketing leaders value staff that could think strategically and orchestrate activities across resources to execute programs. Successful marketing in the past placed an emphasis on dedicated writers.
- Creative writers authored the brochure, ad, and web copy.
- PR specialists authored the press releases.
- Product marketing did the heavy lifting of writing the deeper content.
Marketers became experts at editing — but not writing. This approach was ideal for push marketing of the past.
Fast forward to 2012 and the buying process is radically different. Prospects are researching solutions without the sales rep until late in the buying process (According to a 2011 Sale Research Council study, 57% of a consumer’s buying process happens without a rep being present).
Attempts have been made to hire specialist firms or dedicated content specialist to take care of the headache. What you will find is that the hardest work is still waiting for you —- figuring out what to write. You’re still stuck providing context to make content insightful. They will do their best to work from existing content sources, but require significant hand holding. What feels like a short-cut to success doesn’t solve the root problem.
B2B firms in particular require inbound marketing content to be authored on a specialized topic. The writer must have enough intimacy with the topic and industry to infuse the content with contextual understanding. The following tools are required to equip your team for success:
- The content must be mapped to the buyer’s Persona to be made relevant.
- The Persona serves as a tool to inform the writer how to connect with the top interests of your target audience.
- Content audit mapping to the buyer’s journey ensures relevant content is provided at each step, and identifies gaps.
- Guidelines are provided to author good content and headlines.
Your marketing team needs these tools. SBI’s Lead Generation offering provides our clients with Content Audits mapped to the buyer’s journey, Buyer Personas, and a host of writing tools for success.
Marketing VP’s and CMO’s need to lead their team in transitioning to what is required for success to feed quality content to Lead Generation programs.
Key Takeaways: Help your team acquire new writing capabilities by setting professional expectations, equipping them for success and inspecting their results.