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Content Generation is a Team Sport – Make the Hand-offs Easy

We all know the importance of generating compelling content for social media efforts.  If you’re a B2B marketer, content generation is a major part of your job, whether it is creating or promoting content like blogs, videos, and podcasts.  But knowing that it’s a major part of your job doesn’t mean it’s ONLY your job.

There’s no way you can do it yourself.  Michael Johnson  won gold in both the 200m and 400m at the Atlanta Olympics, and still owns the 400m world record (43.18). But even with those golden spikes, Michael’s time doesn’t come close to the women’s 4x100m world record time (40.82) set by the US at the London Olympics.  To really succeed in content generation, you have to make it a true team sport in your organization.

TrackRelayHandoff 2But, even if you get the right people on your team, you have to make it easy for them to generate content.  Every member of your team will have their “day job,” and content generation can easily take a back seat, no matter how good their intentions. Just like a relay team needs smooth hand-offs between runners to succeed, your content generation team needs an easy way to support the efforts.

In my current role, I’ve started a cross-functional content generation team, and wanted to share my approach for making it easy.  See the short presentation here.

Six Tips for a Smooth  Content Generation Hand-off

Here are the top six tips from my approach.

1.  Align Your Team to the Audience They Know

The main goal of content generation is to provide information that your target audience will find useful.  To make it easy for your team, get them aligned to the audience they know best. Your technical colleagues will be comfortable discussing technical topics, like how to get the most out of your product’s features, or how to address tricky real-world problems. Your customer support team member will find it easy to discuss the top Frequently Asked Questions that he or she hears on a regular basis.

2. Build a Three-Step Template

Not everyone is a natural writer (Part I).  We all know that getting started is often the hardest part of writing.  Make it easy on your team members by creating a template for other teams to follow that will guide them to the compelling content your target audience expects. Give them no more than three steps to follow to pull together the information you know your target audience will devour.

3. Do the Writing Yourself

pen and paperDid I say that not everyone is a natural writer?  I thought I did. Even with a template, your team members may still struggle to get something written. The solution to that problem is staring at you in the mirror. Pick up the pen yourself and interview them. Have your team do the work to gather the information in your templates, the appropriate product dashboards or screen shots.  Then, sit down with them and talk through it. You’ll have to write it, but it will likely be faster than endlessly prompting them to do something that doesn’t come naturally.

4. Set Achievable Goals, then Measure!

Like everything else, having a written target for content generation will help your team focus. Make the goal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely), get buy-in from yoru team, and then measure attainment.

5. Commit to Fast Edit Cycles

There’s nothing more painful than endless edit cycles when trying to get content out the door. With discipline and focus, you can create a seven-day review cycle.  Delivering fast results will help you motivate your team to keep up their efforts.

6. Share the Recognition

Although we as B2B marketers are responsible for driving the social media and content generation effort, we’ll get a lot more willing participation by sharing the recognition among all of the contributors. Recognition motivates people, especially those who are not natural writers.

Give this approach a try and tell me what you think. And please let me know if you have other ideas for getting a team involved in content generation!

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Ryan Hall and Greg Mutai on Heartbreak Hill

Catching the Leaders on Heartbreak Hill: 16 Topics for the New Exec

Sixty days into my transition as an exec at Aternity, I feel like a runner just behind, but in sight of the lead pack in a marathon.  Just like the chaser needs to push hard to catch up to the leaders, I’ve been focused on accelerating my ability to add value as a member of the leadership team.

tf90d-book-coverIn “The First 90 Days,” author Michael Watkins lays out an approach to structured learning which helps the new executive determine where to focus their effort.   At this point, I’m about two-thirds of the way through that timeline, and I’m feeling confident about my progress.

With the 118th running of the Boston Marathon this week, it struck me that the two-thirds point of the marathon course is in the middle of the four Newton hills, which culminate between miles 20 and 21 at Heartbreak Hill.  This section of the course is often where leaders are caught.

Boston Marathon Route
Boston Marathon Route

In fact, Heartbreak Hill is so named because of the dramatic finish of the 1936 Boston Marathon.   Defending champion, John Kelley, whose statue now stands at mile 19, overtook Ellison “Tarzan” Brown and gave him a consolatory pat on the shoulder.  This inspired Brown to overtake Kelley and go on to win, thus breaking Kelley’s heart.  Kelley statue before Heartbreak Hill

The new exec shares a similar goal as the chaser of the lead pack at Boston.   Make your move around the two-thirds point, so you catch up to the lead team by Heartbreak Hill.   Just like there are 16 miles to the start of the Newton Hills, there are 16 key points for the new exec to tackle, in order to achieve this goal.

Business Topics

Target market

  1. Market size and growth rates.  Company market share and trends.
  2. Target customer profile and buyer personas.
  3. Industry analyst coverage of the market – size, trends, competitive analysis.

Current customer base and growth  

4.  Revenue, customer count, and average sales price, by customer market segment.
5.  Past and projected growth rates.

Product development

6.  Product revenue and growth, past and projected.

7.  Road maps, key capabilities and competitive advantages.

8.  Access to product demos.


9.  Current and future competitors, based on planned road map.  Their revenue, growth, target customers and buyers.

10.  Strengths and weaknesses.

Partnership ecosystem

11.  Partner categories and leading partners within them.

12.  Business plans and key metrics for measuring success.

Culture Topics

Cultural topics are equally as important as business topics, especially at a small company.

Decision making

12.  Is the culture driven by consensus, top-down management style, or something in between.


13.  What methods of communication are used?  Social media guidelines and key influencers.

Meeting cadence

14.  Regular management team meetings and functional meetings.

Dress code

15.  How formal is the company dress code?

Work practices

16.  Working from home, typical times for arriving and leaving the office.    Social activities like group lunches, happy hours, etc.

What’s missing from my list?  How have you made your move at Heartbreak Hill?  I’m interested to hear about similar or different experiences.   On to Boylston Street!

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