ByJohn Hall - Forbes Contributor
Bryan Kramer once wrote, “Communication shouldn’t be complicated. It should just be genuine and simple, with the humility and understanding that we’re all multi-dimensional humans, everyone of which has spent time in both the dark and delightful parts of life.”
Content is the key to this kind of communication and your company’s fuel for building connections with these multi-dimensional humans in your network — and that stems far from a marketing-only initiative.
One of the biggest mistakes I see companies continue to make is believing that quality content should be created, distributed, and used only by the marketing team. This belief is not only false, but it’s also a dangerous mentality that dramatically limits your long-term growth.
Content Marketing Institute reported this year that almost three in four B2B marketers still don’t believe their organizations are effective at content marketing. As I’ve discussed in a previous piece on content marketing trends, we’re starting to see new strategies emerge for utilizing content and improving its effectiveness. A trending strategy that brands need to take advantage of now is the use of content by teams outside the marketing department to accomplish more goals.
When you break down and take a closer look at what’s at the core of a successful content campaign, it’s the experiences, stories, and expertise of the company’s key employees — and that’s not limited to only marketing. Those ideas are the heart of your company, and they should be used across departments to communicate and influence the different audiences you want to develop relationships with.
There’s tremendous value in leveraging your content across multiple departments. Here are four key areas brands need to be integrating content into if they want to stay competitive and increase their content’s effectiveness:
With 22 percent of marketers saying that sales teams are roadblocks that rarely contribute to the content marketing value chain, it’s obvious some companies still aren’t getting the message of the value of content in the sales process.
Everyone is naturally turned off to being sold to all the time, and most of us are starting to consider the typical “just following up” sales emails and calls to be on the same level as the iconic used-car salesman of the past. (That greasy, pushy guy is not a welcome mental picture at all, I know, but that’s where we’re at.)
This is because of our need for humanization and personalization. We need to establish trust with everything in our lives, whether that’s with our friends and family or our clients, partners, and prospective customers — and the sales process is no different.
I’m rarely impressed by sales processes (or sales in general), but I was recently by Mike Barbeau who leads sales and marketing at Ethology. Mike completely understood that content is great fuel for touchpoints that his sales people can use every two to four weeks to stay top of mind with prospects. Your potential customers are searching for content to gather info when they make purchase decisions, and to Mike’s point, if you are the company consistently delivering content, consumers don’t need to search for so long for other options (and you’re the source for information that they trust).
Content is critical to building that trust, overcoming sales objections, and closing deals, but in order to use it effectively, your sales team has to be able to connect the dots for your prospects and clearly show, not just tell, how your product or service adds value to their lives. For a list of possible reasons your sales team isn’t already using content (and tips for empowering them to take advantage of it), check out this blog post.
2. Employer Branding
Your employees are your brand’s greatest advocates, and if you’re not already investing in them and including them in your content marketing, you’re missing out on some serious gains.
And at a time when 63 percent of consumers rank a “person like yourself” higher in credibility than a company’s CEO, empowering your employees to take active roles in content creation and distribution can make a huge difference in your content’s ability to reach and impact your audience.
Russ Fradin, co-founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal, one of the companies we partner and work with, summed it up well when he said: “The individuals who comprise your company have independent, trusted, and diverse audiences of their own. Tapping into those audiences opens up an entirely new distribution channel for your content, generating more impressions and reach and resulting in more leads and revenue.”
Your employees are the life of your company, and their networks are your networks. Engage them in your content marketing by explaining how important of a role they play in creating and distributing content and by making your team’s content centrally located and easy to access.
Take it a step further by actually involving various team members in your content creation. Encourage employees to work with your marketing team to develop content, and use a knowledge bank to streamline the process and kick off that collaboration.
3. Investor or Potential Acquirer Relations
Attracting attention, securing funding from new investors, and maintaining solid relationships with current ones is no easy feat for any company, which is where content steps in. The opportunity to impress and nurture investors is consistent over time, and regularly published content allows you, as a leader, to showcase your expertise, build influence, and demonstrate the value of your company to your audience — all of which are important to your investor relationships.
A common misconception is that if you aren’t looking for money or don’t have any investors, maintaining these kinds of relationships is unnecessary. That couldn’t be more wrong. There are always potential acquirers or partners keeping an eye out in the industry for up-and-comers and leaders, and you don’t want to miss out on creating an opportunity by staying in the shadows. You never know what might come your way if you use content to consistently create touchpoints and stay top of mind with this audience.
4. HR and Recruitment
Top talent looks for top companies. So by publishing content in places your ideal hires are reading (and by boosting awareness of your business and its leaders), you increase your chances of reaching and engaging highly talented employees.
Using content to share insights about your company culture, your practices, philosophy for success, and other views and stances on industry news can attract the right employees to your company — the employees who are interested in and excited by exactly what you do and what you stand for. It also works to weed out candidates who don’t know or really care about what makes your company, your culture, or your team awesome, which saves time on interviewing or even hiring the wrong fits.
Recently, a potential hire mentioned reading more than 100 of our team’s articles before our interview. I love to hear things like that, because it not only helps candidates really understand our culture and industry more — which makes for better interviews — but it also operates as free training that will help a candidate hit the ground running if we decide to hire him or her.
And that leads me to my next point about content’s role in HR: onboarding new hires. During the first couple of weeks and months after an employee’s been hired, it’s so important to educate her on the industry, internal communication, and to help her feel comfortable in her new role.
Unless you’re a small team, you won’t be able to personally meet with and train every new employee you hire, but content helps you connect with new employees. By incorporating your company’s content in the onboarding process, you’re not only helping set up the employee for success, but you’re also saving resources for the HR department.
There is no denying that the benefits and effects of content marketing stretches far beyond the marketing team. From better enabling your sales team to enhancing a new employee’s first few weeks on the job, sharing and repurposing your content can be incredibly valuable and increase its effectiveness. All you need to do now is educate your team about its value and provide them with the content resources needed to be successful.