I have heard this more than once from clients or prospective clients: “We know we need to create content, we just don’t have time, and unfortunately, we are the only ones who can really write knowledgeably about our subject matter.”
In many cases, both of these statements are valid. It’s clearly very hard to find time to create content. In the Content Marketing Institute’s study, “B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America,” 69 percent of B2B content marketers say that lack of time is their biggest content marketing challenge. This becomes even more stressful if you are not part of a marketing function that has time for these kinds of tasks baked into its normal schedules. And in some specialized fields, it is true that finding an outside writer or marketing company that can actually take over the task of doing all the content creation with no input from you or other subject matter experts (SME) on your staff can be challenging.
But, if you believe in content marketing and feel, as many do, that it can be a driver of leads, opportunities and ultimately, customers, then there are ways to tackle both the time and expertise problem and move your content marketing effort forward—if you feel you want to do some of the work from the inside. Here are some ideas to get you going.
Recruit from inside
People who work in your company can be the best source of content because they know your business inside and out. It can be hard to unearth volunteers to contribute to the content marketing effort, but there are ways to make it easier on them.
- Turn it into a staff rotation and ask people to write only two or three posts a year, maximum. When they understand that their responsibilities are limited, they may be more inclined to help.
- Give them a schedule. If they know what’s coming and feel that they have time to prepare, people are less stressed by contributing content, which much of the time, is an area that is not in their comfort zone.
- Let them write about subjects they like. It’s very hard to have a topic assigned to you and then realize it’s not really in your wheelhouse. And sometimes people are willing to write, they just don’t know what to write about. If your staff is willing, gather them for a brainstorming session. They will feel involved and you’ll get a whole collection of good ideas.
- Get an editor—preferably from the outside—to add a critical eye to the copy, and if necessary, help you generate ideas with staff and maybe even manage the schedule. This person can also be offered as a resource to talk through a topic with a writer who might be stuck. Sometimes that’s all it takes to focus a subject.
Try a hybrid model
Sometimes you get a mixture of volunteers: a few not-so-confident—yet willing—writers, a couple of folks who will contribute ideas or outlines but don’t want to write full drafts, and a couple of bona fide authors. That’s fine. Not everyone has to be involved in the same way. You will have to work with a hybrid model for creating content — a combination of content creation sources and types.
- The true, willing authors are easy. Use the tips from the section above to get your writers to offer up copy that you (or your editor) can then revise and send back to them for review and sign-off.
- Let the not-so-confident folks contribute a really rough draft, or even a very substantive outline. Then have your editor do a very hard edit on the rough draft or turn that outline into a first draft. Send back to the “author” and work through your review process.
- You can also request ideas or bullet points from your subject matter experts and use those as the basis for a phone conversation between them and your freelance writer(s). Have the writer create a ghostwritten piece that then goes through your review and editing process.
Give the experts a chance
It’s possible that your field is very specialized. But remember: Companies that are focused on creating content, especially for B2B service organizations, often have both the experience and the staff to write about niche topics and subject matter. Or, they will, at the very least, have avenues to track down a freelance writer who has experience writing in your particular field so that your SMEs can work with someone who is already up to speed on the subject.
And remember that once you find the right outsourced content marketing company or freelancer and establish a solid relationship with them, that person or company will get to know your business and industry, and you will start working as partners. They will never know as much as you do, but working together and with input from subject matter experts, a good content marketing company and/or writer can help you create quality copy that requires less effort from inside your company.
Don’t forget, once you create all that great content, you have to market it or all that planning, coordination, and content creation is really for nothing. Only your mom will be reading it.
Need other tips for turning your in-house team into a well-oiled content marketing machine? Download our eBook, “How to Grow Your Business With Content Marketing.”