We live in a time where attention spans are the ultimate form of currency. We also live in a time where companies have the potential to reach customer bases all over the world. In building a content team, you’re essentially creating the educational function, the operational function, and the analytic function to connect a company’s message to a target audience.
Your content team could be one or one hundred people. What’s important is that you have the right skills balanced across your team. The most effective content and user education teams are coordinated efforts across entire organizations.
The Value of a High-Performing Content Team
With the right skills, your content team will be major efficiency and growth drivers for your organization. Your sales teams can spark more meaningful conversations, and your customer success teams have in-depth answers to frequently asked questions.
It’s unlikely that you’re going to find the right skills in one person. It’s easy to imagine a “unicorn content hire” who is a writer, manager, data analyst, and subject matter expert. But how likely is it that you’re going to find someone who is equal parts extroverted—to liaise with external and internal teams—and introspective enough to sit down, focus, and write for extended periods of time? This person also needs to understand how your business works at a fundamental level.
Instead of looking for a single person, seek out a portfolio of skills.
The Essentials for a Content Team
Start by understanding what your content team needs to accomplish. What role does content serve at different stages of your sales cycle? What are the transactional outcomes of your business?
One helpful exercise is to speak with your sales and customer-facing teams that have their minds wrapped around the needs of your market.
When, during conversations, is education most valuable? What friction points come up during conversations? What’s intriguing about your product? What’s confusing? The answers to this question will help you use content as your workhorse.
Think of the content that you create as an educational product. You need a range of perspectives to create blog posts, eBooks, infographics, case studies, and videos that offer value.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the skill sets that you’ll need:
This individual is a high-level thinker who is able to see the needs of the market. Taking on the title content strategist, managing editor, or content manager, this leader has an eye for translating audience needs into clearly defined deliverables.
This is someone who can take the managing editor’s ideas and turn them into functional output. Even though this individual will be heads down, they will have a big-picture understanding of your company’s marketing funnels and sales cycles. The executor may also be responsible for overseeing a team of creators.
Marketing analytics expert.
This knowledge is necessary for connecting pieces of content with clear business outcomes. This could be a data scientist. It could be a marketer. It could be somebody in a demand-generation function. The individual in this role will analyze the work that the executors are doing and then translate that work to business results. This perspective will be essential to the creation of ongoing reporting.
A visual strategist.
Human beings are visual creatures. As content can take many forms, it’s important to have an individual on the team who can make complex topics engaging or easy to understand. This individual could be a creative director, graphic designer, information architect, or UX strategist.
The internal liaison.
This skill set overlaps with the strategist in that this individual connects the dots of your operation back to your overall business. This individual will be your team’s champion in speaking the language of your finance and executive teams.
Content and social media strategy go hand-in-hand. You need a dedicated point-person to make sure that your content lands in front of the right people. The process of developing a social strategy requires focus and dedication outside of writing.
In creating content, companies are responsible for building out their multimedia orbits. There are various questions that can come up along the way. How do we get this out in the world? How do we reach out to press? What social channel should we be using? How can we create a systematized effort on behalf of our entire company to ensure that this content gets seen? How can content create a predictable lead funnel?
A content operation needs to build predictability.
Sit down, take a break from your laptop, and take out a notebook. Create a treasure map. Mark spots on the treasure map that correspond to points of friction or needs for education along the journey. From this perspective, you’ll develop an understanding of the types of assets that your company needs to create.
Then, take a look at companies that reach the same customers that they’re targeting. What are these companies doing well? What could these companies do better?
No matter how much idea-storming you do, don’t feel pressure to reinvent the wheel. The ideal content team can take many shapes and forms. Start by hiring people who are eager to learn. Bring in training programs. Ideally, content marketing will be a team-wide effort. Every individual needs to focus on their domain in a way that minimizes context-switching.
Attention spans are the new currency of our time, and you can’t shortcut quality.