With 71 percent of marketers increasing spend on content marketing in the coming year, there’s no doubt this job title will be in demand for some time to come. But what are the skillsets and characteristics of a rockstar content marketer? (Or if you’re lucky enough to have an entire team of content marketers, then what are the key disciplines needed amongst that team?) The following infographic provides the anatomy of this “dream” content marketing person:
Below, we will dive deeper into each of the skills or traits, starting at Strategic Thinker and going clockwise.
56% of B2B marketers do not have a documented content marketing strategy, and this is a problem. Marketers must have a strategy in place to produce cohesive and actionable content. The perfect content marketer have a list of several goals and ensure every piece of content drives towards that goal. Some examples of goals can be:
- Increase site traffic, brand awareness or lead generation
- Educate prospects on your industry or product benefits
- Improve search engine optimization or customer service
- Build customer trust, rapport, loyalty or industry credibility
Content marketing processes are required to scale your operations. These range from workflow to publishing to promotion to analytics. Within a content marketing process, there must be:
- Defined roles and responsibilities for direct and extended members of your team.
- A path that every piece of content must follow, or at least a staged gate process for decisions to be made about how a piece of content is planned, produced and promoted.
- An editorial calendar to track content through its various stages.
To learn more about content marketing processes, check out these expert tips to manage your process.
Too many people are in a state of content shock as they are bombarded by obscene amounts of ebooks, blog posts and other vendor content. Therefore, it’s crucial that your uber-content marketer is creative. (Don’t worry, I won’t say “think outside the box”)
According to Ekaterina Walter, author of The Power of Visual Storytelling, the brain processes visuals 600,000 times faster than text. Bottom line?… If you can communicate your message through a picture or video, do it.
It is important to think visually—and more importantly, put these visions into eye-catching graphics, infographics and images that connect to your main message. Content should always include an element of design, so the ability to create these elements using applications such as PowerPoint or Adobe Creative Suite is essential. Examples include:
- An infographic on Copyblogger: “22 Ways To Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue,” demonstrates the power of imagery to communicate a message. Instead of a basic list, Brian Clark created images for each of the 22 ways.
- The ability to repurpose a blog post or eBook into a sharable, compelling SlideShare is essential. This makes long posts or books more digestible for your audience. Learn SlideShare best practices from Todd Wheatland. Also, check out these super SlideShares:
Video editing is a great skillset to have as a content marketer, and is only becoming more important. Currently, YouTube has over 3 billion video views per day. Uploading videos to a company channel is a great way to reach your audience.
Cisco predicts that by 2017, video will make up 69% of all consumer internet traffic. So what does this mean? If you don’t have video editing skills you might not be able to reach the majority of audiences in just three years. Take a look at Content Marketing Institute’s Succeed with Video Content Marketing: 5 Tips and a Case Study to start your education. Also, check out these great uses of video for inspiration:
- Rand Fishkin of Moz’s Whiteboard Friday
- Sam Adams’ How To: Harvest Ale Pumpkin Keg
- Oreo’s Snack Hacks
Energetic and Influential Promoter
Social Media Know-How
Too many marketers fall short in marketing their marketing. “Promotion” is the process step to address this short-fall. However, simply composing tweets or posting on Facebook is not enough. The perfect content marketer knows:
- Which channels to publish to according to their business and industry
- The best time to publish for each platform
- Who to reach out to, to make sure content is amplified across several networks and to a wider audience
Speaking of reaching out to people, you have to get your content to the right people. Establish meaningful relationships with key influencers in your industry. These influencers will share your content with their networks and soon enough, your reach will expand. Here are some great resources to learn more about this important facet of promotions:
- “Secrets to Successful Influencer Marketing” by Matt Heinz, presented at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit.
- “Why Online Influencer Outreach is Overrated and How to Fix It” by Jay Baer of Convince & Convert
“Be the Analyst”
- Don’t just communicate facts and figures… Speak your mind, contribute your insights and voice your opinion
- Ask “so what” about everything you produce to ensure that what you’re communicating is of value and action-oriented
Measure, Measure, Measure
The best content marketers are constantly measuring and evaluating the impact of their content to: 1) improve return on their investment, and 2) better demonstrate their impact on the organization. Which best describes your company’s content marketing measurement tactics?
- Mostly vanity (e.g., social shares)?
- Engagement metrics?
- Metrics that determine your team’s impact on marketing or sales’ pipeline?
No doubt there are numerous resources online about content marketing metrics, but here are just a few to get you started:
- The Comprehensive Guide to Content Marketing Analytics & Metrics
- Rob Yoegel of Gaggle provides actionable tips to keep in mind when measuring content marketing, including:
- Know when to measure content production and performance
- Pay attention to where your customer enters the sales funnel
- Know where your traffic is coming from
- Tony Jaros of SiriusDecisions recommends B2B marketers specifically measure their content based on these three metrics:
- Content utilization
- Content production time
- Impact to sales
Witty and Humorous
Inject humor into your content. Nothing makes a piece of content stand out more than when its funny or witty. This greatly increases the potential for your audience to share your content with their peers. For example:
- Marketo’s blog post “You Know You’re a Content Marketer When…” This post uses memes from popular movies and TV shows to exemplify the many habits—and struggles—of being a content marketer.
- “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise” from the movie Carrie. The makers of Carrie prank patrons of a coffee shop by planting actors pretending to have telekinetic powers. The result is a hilarious clip of screams and surprises.
Creator of irresistible and alluring titles
Remember when I said readers are in a state of content shock? Well, creating an attention-grabbing title that is both relevant and decent can in many cases make or break your post regardless of your post’s actual content. The best content marketers have the ability to create a title that will not only entice, but compel readers to click. Here are a couple of titles I like:
- Why Content Marketing Fails by Rand Fishkin on SlideShare
- Dove’s Heartwarming Ad Will Make You Want to Call Dad by Neha Prakash
- This is How I Stopped My Content Marketing Ego Trip by Pawan Deshpande
- 6 Reasons to Delete Your Facebook Account Right Now by Kim Lachance Shandrow
Ability to Tell a Story
Instead of writing about this talent, let me simply provide some great examples:
- Southwest’s blog, Nuts about SouthWest, regularly tells stories about employees with posts like “More than a company, we’re a family” and “Behind the Faces of Southwest One Report.”
- Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line, lets “employees, customers and friends” of the brand tell their own stories about the great outdoors.
- Coca-Cola’s blog Coca-Cola Journey, tells the lesser known tales of the well-known brand, such as this post on A History of Coca-Cola Advertising.
Attention to detail
Every sentence—and every word—counts. The best content marketers know that to keep their audience interested, every element of their content should be precise. Without this attention to detail, content can come across as disjointed and lacking purpose.
Spelling and Grammar
Good spelling and grammer may seem like an obvious trait for a content marketer; however, many of us still make mistake’s. Don’t misspelll words or defy simple grammar rule. You’re reader’s willnotice them. (Yes, the mistakes in this section were intentional.) As much as it pains me to call-out another content marketer’s spelling mistakes, let me refer to an article in the Huffington Post entitled “The Ten-Second Race to Content Nirvana” which has two spelling mistakes in the very first sentence. The first comment at the end of the post points out the error in the article, which ironically is about creating quality content. (Don’t hold back if you find errors across this post.)
Evolving technology is making it easier to create content on the front end. But having a basic knowledge of HTML can help take your content to the next level.
Content marketers should be primarily focused on creating quality content for your audience, but don’t underestimate the power of also optimizing content for search engines. For tips about SEO when curating content, check out our list of SEO Do’s and Don’ts. Cyrus Shepard of Moz also had some insightful thoughts on the topic of “How to Survive the Google Tornado” during a session I sat through at Marketo’s recent Marketing Nation Summit.
Product and Industry Knowledge
It goes without saying that great marketers know what they are writing about. Knowing your products can be especially difficult for marketers in the technology industry, e.g., understanding the intricacies of how a semiconductor chip works when you’re marketing to engineers.
- Work with other functional areas of your company (e.g., product management, product marketing) to get a better understanding of your product
- Attend industry events (in-person and virtual) to get smarter in your industry
- Set up Google Alerts on your company, your products and your competitors
- This will not only help you generate ideas, but also alert you when there is news in your industry that you can capitalize upon (i.e., ideation)
- If you’re a Curata customer, tap into the power of the self-learning discovery engine to bring you the latest and greatest content from across the Internet on your topic of choice. Also a great source of ideas for content inspiration as well as a way to follow your industry’s top influencers.
Customer Insight: “Be the Customer”
As important as knowing what you’re writing about is knowing who you’re writing for. Content marketers understand their customers in order to create content that answers their most important and burning questions. They understand:
- What customers want to learn
- What customers already know
- How customers are finding content
- How customers are consuming content
Where can you get this insight?
- Directly interact with your customers e.g., go on sales calls with your reps; sit on phone calls conducted by your inside sales team; conduct interviews with your customers as part of a blog post
- Go where your customers go e.g., read your customers’ blogs; attend events they frequent
- Use existing research e.g., check out any voice of the customer studies your company may already be conducting, such as Net Promoter Score research or product marketing surveys
Read, Read, Read
Although content marketing is all about creation and writing, reading about your industry, your market, your customers and how to be a better marketer might be just as important. For example:
- Check out the best books on content marketing such as “Youtility” by Jay Baer and “Epic Content Marketing” by Joe Pulizzi
- Read what the top content marketing bloggers have to say
- Stay up to date on the advice of analysts and practitioner
- Within your company: Team with other functions across marketing (e.g., product marketing, field marketing) and across your organization (e.g., sales, product management). Great collaboration will supercharge performance across all parts of the content supply chain:
- Content creation: crowdsourcing across your organization
- Promotion: Interaction with your social media team
- Analytics: Interaction with your marketing operations and IT team
- Within your content marketing team: As great as it would be to have all the skillsets mentioned in this post embodied in one person, in reality there will be an entire team of people from different disciplines; for example, editors, writers, SEO specialists, designers, etc. The most effective content is the result of the harmonious interaction of all of these disciplines.
The best marketers understand that partnering with other players in your industry helps increase your credibility and brings in new perspectives. This results in greater value for your audience, and may result in you better leveraging your resources.
- Develop a guest post program
- Contribute to other company’s blogs
- Establish partnerships with other companies and analysts
- Hire freelancers or agencies to better use your resources
- Curate content to complement your existing content, i.e. 65% created content, 25% curated content
Don’t let small obstacles stop you from creating quality content. If you hit a roadblock, keep trying or come up with a new solution.
- Can’t get an interview with a key source? Track down a contact on LinkedIn that can make an introduction for you. If you already have their contact information and they’re not responding, keep calling or emailing them.
- Don’t know how to use Photoshop? Learn.
- Content marketers cannot be afraid to fail. In the history of content marketing, ideas and technologies have come and gone. The next big trend in content may be something you already thought of, but are afraid to voice your opinion or insight.
- Take risks. Push the bounds to stand out from the crowd. If you make mistakes in the process… learn from them and move on. Whether it’s an edgier title or a new format, it may help generate more traffic and make your content stand out from other companies in your industry.
Let’s face it, we’ll never have enough money do to everything we’d like to do in content marketing. The best marketers make the most of what they have.
- Don’t have enough time to write? Be resourceful and hire an agency or a freelancer you trust that will best represent your voice and your audiences’ needs.
- Having trouble finding the time to write that big ebook? Use PowerPoint slides to get your message across, or simply write a long-form blog post.
- Repurpose content from that great ebook you wrote 6 months ago by creating blog posts, infographics and a SlideShare from the original content.
Do you—or your team—have every trait of the “dream” content marketer? For more on what employers are looking for when they hire a content marketer, check out these content marketing interview questions.
Still missing a body part? Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this rapidly maturing discipline. Just remember that happiness is in the journey, not the destination.