It’s a common pain point among B2B marketers. An effective inbound strategy requires a good volume of high quality, persona relevant content. You likely already know the answers to your persona’s pain points – and are working to combat them on a daily basis.
But when it comes to creating content outlining your organization’s expertise – getting more technical or non-marketing staff to put what they do into words is a sizable challenge. Not everyone can be a writer, and not every writer has the knowledge or capacity required to create the right content. So what can be done?
To find out the challenges and see if there are any common answers, we posed the following to B2B marketing professionals on LinkedIn:
The results were incredibly diverse and interesting. (See the original discussion here).
Of all the answers we received, we found they fit into 7 key methods. Often aspects of each point are combined in an end solution, and each approach will likely vary from business to business.
Hubspot has some great advice on the basics of why business need to blog regularly as part of an effective inbound strategy. From driving relevant traffic to converting that traffic into leads, content is a key tool at every stage of the conversion funnel; helping to boost authority and drive long-term results. Essentially, content is the oil allowing your business’s cogs to turn smoothly. But your team members may not understand that, and question the relevance and importance of contributing.
Many of our respondents highlighted the need for company-wide understanding of context, suggesting that as a next step, a level of healthy competition is introduced to spur on creation:
“We’ve been experimenting with gamification in a new product to promote content creation and distribution. We give corporate customers a scoreboard which lists the most effective resharers, etc. This incentivizes content distribution,”
“When your non-marketing employees know that they are helping the company by building the brand through blogging, and helping out customers or visitors with questions they may have, or problems that are important to them – taking a few hours to type out an article shouldn’t be a problem, especially if the topic is already decided on,”
“We like to engage non-marketers when we develop content strategy, and make it a collaborative effort so if they’re asked to contribute at a later date, they feel that they have a stake in the outcomes rather than being tasked with a writing chore,’
“We initially sent a company-wide email, asking for volunteer bloggers, we started off with a minimum commitment of one blog contribution every 3 months, so as not to put off those who may feel once a month was too much of a commitment… I’d recommend setting realistic goals. In this email we detailed why it’s important to have a blog, [and] the benefits.”
In line with helping people to understand the reasons why you’re asking them to create content (which they may not see as part of their job role), it can help to prove the results with successful metrics. Using data-informed reasoning can encourage and motivate your team, and change their perspective on the importance of content marketing:
“Getting non-marketing people or technical people, in my case, is definitely a challenge. Biggest hurdle is the fact that they like to spend time doing technical things and see writing content as a ‘low skill job for which they are not suitable. A typical answer that I have heard is ‘You can get a content writer for half the pay that you give me. Why do you want me to waste time on that?’ …ways to overcome this: Show data that content marketing works and helps generates leads that will turn into more business. Most technical people understand, love and trust data,”
Healthy competition to create content is good – so why not take it to the next step and encourage/ reward the most effective posts?
For most people, having their post published is initially interesting. But if that post starts getting shared, promoted and commented on, and team members start to be recognized as experts – personal interest in content creation will grow!
“…If the content created by any non-marketing person is shared widely, then the recognition itself is a powerful motivator,”
“…we offered a small prize (bottle of bubbly) for completion and publishing of the first blog and a modest cash prize when their fourth blog was published. After this, we hope that they’ll continue to commit to submitting blogs as they’ll have been through the process several times and feel comfortable with it. They’ll also see the tangible benefits (CTRs / social shares/ recognition etc) and will have received the kudos of having the article published,”
This may not be an approach that works for all, but considering content creation within appraisals may be an option to boost organization-wide content creation. To keep your team on side however, it would still help to let everyone know the importance of blogging and the reasons why they’re being asked to create.
“Although not very powerful, but content creation could become part of your performance appraisal. Not a great incentive but it will at least get people started on it,”
Can you say with confidence that you’re happy to put anything into words, and quickly dash out a few hundred insightful and interesting words? No?
Not everyone finds writing easy, and more technical members of your team may be apprehensive, or doubtful of their content abilities. But if you can reassure staff, provide clear direction or writing guidelines, or collaborate throughout the creation process, you should achieve effective results:
“One of the largest hesitations that I’ve run into from people is that they’re nervous that their writing is not up to par for a blog post, and that they may not have “the best” ideas. Therefore, when I approach someone who I feel may have critical insight to a process that could really help other sales and marketers I always explain that we can brainstorm… insight is what is most important, grammar and punctuation are something that marketing will
oversee. Once they realize it’s a collaboration they become more open to the idea. Many times after they write the first post and see how the process works along with seeing their post syndicated, they usually don’t hesitate to write a second post when they have the time,”
“It’s a matter of chance whether your subject matter experts are literate. Writing clear and compelling prose is a skill like any other. My advice is to get a good freelance journalist with knowledge of your sector to speak regularly to your people and turn the conversations into copy,”
“Rather than pick individuals and ask, my personal feeling is, start off by working with those who are willing to make a commitment to you and volunteer. For those individuals you especially want, approach them individually to discuss. We gave bloggers several options to delivery, they could either write about a topic they prefer and then we (marketing) would review and edit as appropriate before sending back to them for approval. They could simply send bullet points… We also volunteered to interview them to save them from writing things down… every individual is different and you need to cater for their preferences to find a mutually beneficial result.”
If your staff are pushed for time or struggle to write, using content creators (whether freelance or in-house) may be your best solution. If you have a solid B2B title already prepared, it should just take a short interview for a content creator to ask for the insight needed for a blog (or multiple blogs):
“To get multiple shorter articles.. I chat to [my team] for about 15 minutes on what makes them glad/sad/mad about what their customers are experiencing, get perhaps 3 key ideas or angles then draft something up for them to review. When they see the end product, they are happy to just tweak then have it released under their name!
“A quick 15 to 30 minute interview with a freelance writer can provide enough content for a blog post – which can be written as an interview, or as if the expert had written it. If it’s well defined in advance, it becomes a painless exercise for your expert,”
Of course, opinions on team content creation come from both sides – and some non-marketing members don’t view the process as a challenge at all:
“I’m a non-marketer and I enjoy writing blogs for my company. They can always make some adjustments to make it sound better before it’s published. I also find it a great way to get some frustrations off my chest,”
Encouraging writing evangelists such as this, asking them what they think works, and brainstorming ideas on how to improve your internal processes will always help.
At Strategic, we’ve been using a combination of the methods above including; providing context as to the importance of content production and the benefits it brings to the business; helping team members visualize how efforts impact on lead gen, almost turning it into a competition, and regularly assessing the analytics on post traffic performance.
If you’re experiencing this challenge, are using one of the methods above or have an answer you can’t see here, let us know your thoughts in the comments below, or get involved in the original LinkedIn discussion here. Many thanks to everyone who has shared insight so far!