Necessity is the mother of invention. The phrase is ascribed to Plato, and as the solo marketer in a stand-alone business unit within a large company, I lived and breathed it. To succeed at content creation for inbound marketing, I knew I couldn’t do it alone. This week’s Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) illustrates how to build a bigger boat to get it done.
Organize your Content Creation Plan
Choose your channels. Are you rowing sweep (one oar) or are you sculling (two)? In a single, double, four, or eight? Similarly, choose your social media channels based on your strengths, resources, and intended audience. We used Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and blogging.
Find your contributors. As the marketer, I was the coxswain of our effort, steering and setting the cadence. Just as a cox can’t move the boat without rowers, marketing can’t be the only function doing content creation for your inbound marketing effort. Below, I discuss who took up an oar in our content creation boat and what they provided.
Drive to a schedule. It takes about twenty minutes to finish the three mile HOCR course, but boats can lose major time navigating the 180 degree turn that starts at mile two. Our content plan had a schedule for each of our channels. Every week, members of our sales, business development, and product management teams suggested content to me. I used their suggestions to build an inventory of tweets that were scheduled using HootSuite and distributed to the rest of the company using GaggleAMP. I recorded one YouTube video each week on technical topics determined by the field. Our thought leaders contributed to our corporate cloud blog at least monthly.
Build content for the whole customer buying cycle, just as rowers vary their output over the race course. At the start, they accelerate with a furious stroke rate, then they settle into a more sustainable pace at the B.U. Bridge. With a half mile to the finish, they go all out once they pass the Eliot Bridge. Don’t limit your effort to thought leadership content for awareness and consideration. You need a variety of content for subsequent stages in the cycle.
Track results. Just as rowers follow a specific plan of workouts leading up to the regatta, we tracked the results of our efforts. We analyzed which tweets got the most amplification, and which website content was most popular. We shared the contributions and Klout scores of our team members, to generate competition.
The Oarsmen in our Content Creation Boat
Several groups played a role in content creation. Here’s who pulled an oar in our eight, from stem to stern.
1. Product Management: In the bow seat, our product managers created short YouTube videos covering the our product’s business benefits. Avoiding detailed discussion of features, these videos highlighted our competitive advantages, and targeted the preference stage of the buying cycle.
2. Strategists: Our strategist provided thought leadership content, in white papers and blogs, for our corporate site and popular sites for our targeted industries, like MSP Mentor. If your vertical market experts aren’t visible on the industry blogs your prospects read, you won’t expand your awareness beyond your current customer base.
3. Sales: As sales met with customers and partners, they tweeted photos and key points, which were then promoted via Twitter and LinkedIn to help drive the purchase stage. We also used this information to write industry specific blog posts such as this example from the CRM software space.
4. Business Development: Responsible for the partner eco-system, the business development team recorded short customer videos, highlighting the quantified business benefit of our product. We not only created a repository of customer videos on our product page, but we also tweeted them out regularly. These proved to be our most popular tweets, since the profiled customers aggressively promoted them as well. Create videos for all of your vertical markets and target use cases.
5. Pre-sales: Our pre-sales experts recorded YouTube videos on technical tips and tricks. Targeted to existing customers, these videos helped customers expand their use of our product, helping us cross-sell and up-sell.
6. Customer Support: No team is better positioned to understand what customers struggle with, so it was easy for support to address FAQs on our LinkedIn user group.
7. Executives: We engaged our leadership, especially on controversial news-jacking opportunities. The best example is a blog showing how our customer supported a massive increase in traffic to Boston Magazine’s website after it published unauthorized photos in the Boston Marathon bombing case.
8. Customers and Partners: In the stroke position, the most important in the boat, are customers and partners. After all, it is their experience with the product that drives the business. Add them as guests on your blog and lead generation activities, since their credibility and direct experience will be more convincing to prospects than your own.
My job as marketer is just like that of the cox: drive to the schedule, insist on quality output, and constantly demand more effort.
What do you think? Are you getting the most out of your colleagues when it comes to inbound marketing content creation, or do you have a few empty seats in your boat?