Content marketing is a role in extremely high demand right now, especially in the B2B space.
Having a content marketing strategy to drive your brand awareness and support your demand generation has become more important than ever, especially over the past few years.
A steep rise in content marketing trends have been driven as more of our interactions with B2B products and services have now shifted to digital-first since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
But with so much content out there online, and such high demand for content marketers today, finding the right person to fill this role isn’t easy.
Not only do you need a long-term strategy and a regular stream of high-quality content, you need a reliable content marketer who can meet your expectations and deliver on those requirements.
Of course, getting this wrong can cost your business money and waste your time, and potentially even harm your brand if your content is below-standard.
To ease these challenges, we’ve provided this in-depth guide for finding, assessing, hiring the right person to lead your content marketing strategy.
First, let’s start by making sure we’re clear on what we really mean by content marketing.
According to HubSpot:
“Content marketing is the process of planning, creating, distributing, sharing, and publishing content via channels such as social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, apps, press releases, print publications, and more. The goal is to reach your target audience and increase brand awareness, sales, engagement, and loyalty.”
So, content marketing is a form of inbound marketing, which uses content – anything from web pages, to blog articles, or social media posts – to attract target audiences to your brand by providing them with useful information.
One of the main purposes of content marketing is to provide your audience with genuinely valuable information, and build trust with them by helping them solve a challenge or achieve a goal. Once this trust has been built, you use more content to strengthen the relationship and encourage them to engage with you in more meaningful ways, whether that’s by subscribing to your newsletter or buying a product from you.
As you’ll see in this diagram, a content marketing strategy should mirror a marketing funnel or customer journey map. You use certain types of content at each stage, bringing your target audience in at the top of the funnel and providing them with more content to help move them further down towards becoming a customer.
Many would also argue that a key aspect of effective content marketing today is to influence the audience to take action in a way that feels organic.
That’s especially important today, because one of the most common mistakes businesses make is to expect to be able to sell to their target customers directly through content without first building a relationship. While this isn’t impossible, it goes against the principles of good content marketing is.
And don’t forget, content marketing goes far beyond the point of conversion. A content marketing strategy should also nurture existing customers to increase retention, loyalty, and advocacy as well.
Therefore, it should be clear that content marketing requires a long-term strategy based on patience, persistence, and consistency.
In a way, you can’t do any marketing without content. And if you can’t do any marketing, your business won’t grow at enough scale.
Why is this the case? Well, because “content” covers pretty much any information you produce, whether online or in print. This could include:
So, you can see why it’s so crucial to your business, because content is the foundation of all your marketing activity. But when it comes to the point you need to hire a content marketer, you may be thinking it’s not necessary. After all, a lot of this stuff is already taken care of, right?
You have a nice enough website, your marketing intern writes all your email campaigns, and you post on your own social media channels, so it might feel like you’ve got content marketing nailed.
Well, that’s all fine. But without someone working in a dedicated content marketing role, you’ll inevitably run into some significant challenges:
These days, your ideal B2B customer is active online. Just like you and I, they’re scrolling social media, they’re watching “how to” videos on YouTube, they’re reading blog articles to try and solve a problem or learn a new skill. Your content marketing activity allows you to reach those target audiences and help them build a connection with your brand.
But with so much content existing online, you need a well-planned, targeted strategy, and a high-quality, high-volume stream of content to deliver it. The only way to achieve that is by committing to it and hiring a content marketer in a dedicated role.
As mentioned earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way businesses and buyers alike interact with online content. We recently spoke to David McGuire, Creative Director of B2B content agency Radix Communications about how this has fuelled a rise in demand for content marketing talent.
Investing in content marketing will prevent you from falling into the above-mentioned pitfalls, but it also brings a wide range of additional benefits too.
And yes, there is an argument to say that you can grow your business without a content marketing strategy, by relying on the quality of your product and a very hungry sales team. Business growth can come from many different things, and those things may work for you.
However, there are proven reasons why content marketing is so popular among the world’s leading B2B brands today, and at some stage you probably will find the need to get a content engine up and running.
Some of the benefits of content marketing include:
Perhaps most importantly, content marketing starts a dialogue with your target audience in which they’ve come to you. Unlike traditional outbound marketing, by consuming your content, your target audience has found your brand and made the decision to engage with it in some way.
Most often, this will be because they have a problem they’re actively looking to solve. Once you’re given that opportunity, it’s the quality of your content, and the information it contains, that will determine whether they continue to engage.
Before you dive into the specifics of a content marketing strategy, first consider the goals you’re trying to achieve.
Depending on what stage or size your business is at, your goals will be different. For instance, if you’re a small start-up just finding your feet, your content will need to build an audience from scratch with long-term engagement in mind. If you’re a more established brand with an existing audience, your goal may be to convert more website visitors into app downloads or leads into sales.
Once you understand the goals behind your marketing, you can then begin to craft a content strategy tailored to achieving that goal.
Start by auditing all the content you’ve already got. Take stock of everything, analyse the messaging, the SEO, where it was shared, how it performed, what worked well (that you could replicate) and what didn’t work at all (that you shouldn’t repeat).
Look carefully at what your competitors are doing with their content. You can see how often they’re producing content, what formats they use most, what keywords they’re targeting, what tone and voice they’re using, and so on. You can also use this to identify gaps in the market and opportunities to differentiate yourself.
Content marketing is all about providing valuable information to your target audience, ideally teaching them something they didn’t know or helping them solve a problem. To do this, you need to understand their goals, their interests, their challenges, and their needs.
Buyer personas are a good starting point for this, but surveys and customer research will also help you can resonate with your audience more.
This research should also involve determining the best channels to prioritise when it comes to content distribution, based on where your target audience is most active online.
Conduct research into the keywords and phrases that your target audience is searching for, relevant to your business. These are the words you will want to build your content plan on, because they will help you rank higher in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
Use all the above research to create a list of content topics, ideas, and projects that you will use as the basis of your content strategy. A great place to start here is with some key pillars or categories based on the top challenges your product or service can solve, and then build out from there with related topics.
Once you have a plan for the content you’re going to produce, build an editorial calendar to map out the delivery of that plan based on timeframes and deadlines. This will ensure you have a steady, consistent stream of content being published in a timely manner.
Make sure your editorial calendar assigns each task, or step of the process, to the appropriate person, so everyone is aware of their responsibilities in working together towards the shared goal. This will also help you plan ahead, and maximise the exposure your content gains, by knowing when each piece will be published and forward-planning its distribution and promotion.
Another benefit of an editorial calendar is to spot opportunities to create content based on events in your calendar, whether that’s a company announcement or something like an end-of-year retrospective.
Once your plan and editorial calendar are in place, start writing! Content creation comes in many forms these days, but fundamentally you need a content marketer who is responsible for managing and executing the content production process. Of course, this may also require collaboration from people like graphic designers, video editors, or even technical input from a subject matter expert or business leader.
Not only should the information be high-quality and accurate, but the editorial integrity of your content needs to be to a professional standard as well. Ensure someone in your team has skills to act as the editorial gatekeeper for everything you share publicly, from spelling and grammar through to voice and tone.
We’d recommend working on a set of brand style guidelines to make it easier to do this consistently, while also ensuring anyone else who creates content has clear, specific rules to follow.
You could write the best content in the world, but it’s useless if no one reads it. Distribution is a critical component of any content marketing strategy, and there are so many ways to do this today it shouldn’t be difficult to get started.
As mentioned earlier, you should target the channels where your audience is most active. It’s also wise to create content specifically tailored to certain channels. Ensure you have someone who is familiar with the trends and characteristics of these channels, to ensure your content gains maximum exposure when being published. For example, a post on Twitter will be very different to a direct message on LinkedIn, but you need a content marketer who can seamlessly nail both.
You should also look beyond your own channels when it comes to distribution. Leverage as many opportunities as possible for extra amplification, whether by reaching out to relevant influencers or asking partners to share your content for you.
Repurposing content is the practice of taking one piece and adapting it slightly into a number of additional pieces, usually for different formats.
Take the example above about distribution. If you write a blog article, you may want to distribute it by sharing it on your company’s Twitter and LinkedIn pages, and sending it directly to some contacts as well.
You’ve spent time writing the blog article, so you don’t need to write the social media posts from scratch. Use the copy from the blog article and adjust it into other formats to make the distribution process quicker and more efficient.
This works equally well taking one long YouTube video and editing it into several smaller videos for social media. More experienced content marketers will plan entire multi-channel campaigns around this principle, writing one large piece of content and repurposing it extensively to populate their channels for months.
Once your content strategy is up and running, you’ll need to begin monitoring how it performs. This will involve collecting data, whether that’s web traffic from Google Analytics, open and click-through rates (CTRs) from email campaigns, or followers on social media.
Set up a system for tracking, measuring, analysing, and reporting on how your content is performing. We’ll talk more about this later, but when it comes to approaching this, we’d suggest building time in, at least once per month, to do this. If you’re posting high volumes of content on a daily basis, it may be necessary to do a weekly report.
When your content strategy has been active long enough to start seeing trends and patterns in your results, you’ll then want to analyse the data to help you improve. Optimising your efforts is essential if you want to gain ROI and achieve success.
If certain types of content are performing well, spend more time working on more of that moving forward. If there are other types of content not returning any value, it’s worth considering removing that from your future plans.
Content marketing requires a fair amount of experimentation, and you can’t be afraid to try things that will fail. The key thing is to identify that failure quickly, learn from it, and make sure you don’t repeat it.
If you need more help creating a content marketing strategy that is set up for success, hear from one of the world’s leading authorities on content marketing, as he gives a masterclass that any B2B tech company can take value from.
When hiring a content marketer to oversee and deliver that strategy like the one we’ve outlined above, start by understanding and defining the role.
A content marketer will be responsible for making sure all the above steps are taken, while also regularly proactively finding opportunities for additional content outside the pre-planned editorial calendar.
This requires keeping up with the wider business, industry trends, new innovations from competitors, and new behaviours from target audiences, all while continuing to deliver the content itself.
A content marketing role will consist of the following (but not necessarily all) responsibilities:
As you prepare to begin recruiting for a content marketing role, you’ll want to understand what kind of skills to look for. After all, content marketing is a specialist area of marketing and is a difficult thing to do well.
There are some non-negotiable technical skills to prioritise, because without those your new hire won’t be able to do their job properly. However, it’s also worth being conscious of certain soft skills which will also give them a much better chance of succeeding in the role.
About to Start Hiring? Check out our Content Marketing Job Description Templates
It might seem tempting to let your existing marketing manager try to cram the responsibility of content into their existing role. This is a mistake many businesses make when trying to cut corners and save money, but it generally creates more problems than solutions.
It’s best to find someone to take on this dedicated role and fully immerse themselves in a long-term content marketing strategy. But it’s useful to first consider what kind of person you’re looking for to fill this first role, because not all content marketers will be the same. Yes, content marketers are responsible for managing your strategy and creating your content, there are nuances to the types of employee profiles you’ll be seeing.
In our experience, there tend to be three main types of content marketers:
Your business may need a combination of these, or all three of them, and for a variety of reasons.
Just like with any area of marketing, not all employees will share the same strengths and weaknesses. Their CVs will look similar, and they’ll likely agree they share the same goals and targets, but how they get the job done can be poles apart.
And by no means is one better than the other, either.
But hiring the right type of content marketer for your own unique business can be one of the toughest challenges, and will depend on what circumstances you’re dealing with.
The size and make-up of your marketing team will depend on the size of your business. The way you structure your marketing team, and how you approach content marketing as a function, will probably depend on the size of your budget.
If you’re a marketing team with several employees, and can only hire one person to manage all your content marketing, you’ll probably be structured something like this:
In a marketing team like this, depending on the person’s experience and skills, the content marketer is responsible for creating the content strategy to be used across the business.
They will then produce the content themselves, likely publish on the CMS, and collaborate with the digital marketing manager on things like copy to be used for distribution.
They’ll probably be responsible for quality-checking any content produced by the rest of the team as well, to ensure it’s accurate and follows the brand messaging correctly.
Once the content has been created and designed, it will then be used by other members of the marketing team in the channels and campaigns they’re responsible for managing.
If you have the budget to build an entire content marketing team, it will probably be structured something like the below graphic.
In this team, the broader role of content marketing is split out into more specialist roles for things like SEO, copywriting, PR, social media, and so on. These roles will be filled by people with very specific technical skills, rather than a more general all-rounder.
While this will require a higher level of investment, it will significantly improve the quality across every aspect of your strategy, and will deliver a far greater return on investment.
As mentioned earlier, measuring performance is a critical part of any marketing strategy.
If you don’t know how your content is performing, you don’t know whether you’re succeeding or not.
Of course, you’ll also want to measure the performance of the person you hire for content marketing as well.
To do this, we need to go back to the overall business goal – or goals – we discussed earlier in the strategy-setting section.
What are you trying to achieve by hiring a content marketer and getting a strategy underway? Being clear on this will make it easier to understand what sort of metrics you need to be tracking.
For example, if you’re growing an audience from scratch as quickly as possible, start by looking at volume of content published, volumes of web traffic, social media followers, subscribers to a newsletter, and so on.
If you have an established audience but are struggling to move prospects down your funnel, you might want to focus on metrics like click-throughs, enquiries, leads, and even audience retention.
Maybe your goal is to be recognised as the number-one leading expert in your niche, and therefore ranking on the first Google SERP for your keywords is the priority.
Once we know that, it’s wise to set key performance indicators (KPIs) or objectives and key results (ORKs) to measure the performance of your content marketing strategy. Choosing the most appropriate metrics to use here will be very important in ensuring you can optimise your efforts and maximise your success.
Here are some examples you can use to measure performance:
In terms of managing the workload of your content marketer, we would always suggest, especially in the current landscape, prioritising quality over quantity when it comes to output.
Although volume and frequency is important, remember the most important thing is resonating and building trust with your target audience by providing them with genuine value.
Your content should be:
If you have to make small sacrifices with the volume of content you produce to ensure all those characteristics are consistently maintained, it will pay dividends in the long-term.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re in a situation where you have a content writer and a digital marketing manager working together to execute your content marketing strategy, you may need to judge their performance on different KPIs.
For example, if the content writer produces outstanding content, but the marketing manager doesn’t distribute it anywhere, it may not be fair to judge the writer on that poor performance.
Content teams must be working in harmony, with a clear understanding of each other’s roles, goals, and KPIs. While you will want to measure their performance in different areas, it’s important to keep everyone reminded of how they all come together to work towards the shared goals of the wider marketing function and overall business.
Another thing to keep in mind when preparing to recruit for a content marketing role is the digital tools and technologies you’ll have to equip them with.
While a great deal of content production will start with the traditional pen and blank piece of paper (or Word doc), there are some important tools which will enable all your marketing people to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently these days.
Again, what level of investment you have here will depend on budget, so we’ve organised these into two tiers of affordability.
Here are some of our suggestions:
The next section is designed to help you build a job description or job advert to help you attract the right content marketers.
What you choose to use in the description or advert will depend on the goals your business is looking to achieve, the skills you need, the salary you can afford and the availability of talent.
Broadly, we’d suggest the following structure;
This is your opportunity to hook the candidate and help answer the question, ‘why should this candidate come and work for us?’
A simple way to distil this is to talk to your existing marketing team.
What attracted them to your company, and why do they think it’s a great place to work?
You could focus on your size, growth, your value proposition, culture, training, location, benefits.
And whatever you decide to write, two things are important – make sure it’s an accurate reflection of your business and make sure you sell it.
In this section, you want to give a brief description of what this person will be doing and looking to achieve.
I suggest following this format;
As Content Marketing Manager, you’ll report into [insert title] and be responsible for [insert overview of the job] to help [insert what you’re looking for this person to achieve].
Goals for a role like this could be increasing brand awareness, being recognised as thought leaders, increasing web traffic, improving SEO, generating MQL’s, acquiring customers and retaining customers.
And it may be the case it’s all of the above.
In this next step, you’re going to now create more detail about what this content marketer will be doing for you on a day to day basis. Use bullet points for this section as it’s easier to read.
It’s important to remember here that you need to be realistic with what you want this person to do.
As an example, it’s unlikely you’re going to find someone with SEO knowledge and graphic design skills.
So, here’s a selection of responsibilities.
In this next step, you’ll select the specific skills and experience your business needs in this role.
Again, it’s unlikely you’ll get everything you need. An excellent way to tackle this is to have some skills as ‘essential’ and some as ‘desirable’.
We’d always recommend that our B2B clients focus on content marketers from the B2B sector, as they’ll have experience of creating content for each stage of a lead generation funnel, as well as working closely with sales teams in the process.
And lastly, make sure it’s clear what type of content marketer you’re looking for.
Is this role someone who’s going to create the strategy and get someone else to create the content, or are you looking for someone that can do both.
Use our B2B Marketing Salary Guide to make sure you position the role at the right level.
And not only that but if you’re a Startup, then you can also see what sort of benefits you could offer – like flexible working – that could help you attract candidates.
A great content marketer in the B2B space has to be able to wear many hats.
So it’s crucial at interview to test both their behavioural skills and their technical ability and knowledge.
And being a good interviewer isn’t just about finding out what you want to know, so make sure you balance out the interview by giving some time to describe your business, the role, and what they can expect going forward to the candidate too.
Based on the job description you’ve just created and the culture of your business, now is the time to decide on what interview questions you’re going to ask candidates to assess their suitability.
In the spirit of fairness and being able to compare candidates objectively, I’d recommend asking the same questions to each candidate.
In the first round of interviews, your goals are to;
Follow Up; Who’s idea was it?
Follow Up: What were your goals with it?
Follow Up: How did you measure its success?
2. If you were to get this job, talk me through how you’d decide what sort of content to create to help us achieve [insert business goal]
Follow Up: What questions would you ask people internally?
Follow Up: What tools would you use?
Follow Up: What would you measure to ensure the goals were being achieved
3. What are some observations you’ve made about our current content marketing efforts?
Follow Up: What research did you do?
Follow Up: What would you change immediately?
4. Imagine I’ve given you a video of a roundtable with some of our customers talking about key challenges within their industry and how our solutions have helped them overcome those. What would you do with that asset to maximise what we can get from it?
Follow Up; Why would you do that?
Follow Up: What support would you need to do that?
Still struggling for questions? Find out what questions 23 B2B marketing experts would ask to assess someone’s content marketing skills.
Again, it’s always worth remembering that training someone’s skills a lot easier than their attitude.
And often, the reason B2B marketers are successful in their jobs is because of how they get the job done.
If you have a candidate who’s a great cultural fit but doesn’t have all the technical skills, have a think about how you could bridge the skills gap through training.
Being able to learn new things is a key to a marketers next job move, so doing this will help you retain them for longer than someone who has done everything you want them to do before.
Now that you’ve done your first round of interviews, you ideally want to have 3 candidates to move to second interview. However, if there’s only one candidate you like, don’t let that stop you moving forward.
In your first interview, you’ve assessed that the candidates have an excellent cultural fit and have enough of the skills you need to be successful.
Your second interview goals are to;
In a second interview, you should set the candidate a task or presentation to deliver. For example;
This should give them an opportunity to showcase their skills for the job you’re hiring for. Remember, that they may not know your business inside out, so focus more on their methodology rather than whether or not they come up with the right answers.
Now that you’ve hired a content marketer, it’s important to keep them motivated and make sure their skills are up to date so your business can benefit from them.
It’s unlikely that your content marketer is going to be an expert in every aspect of their role, so sit down with them and put together a plan to help them improve their skills.
Clearly, there’s nothing like testing new ideas, but for certain areas of content marketing, it’s important to take some external training courses too.
Here’s a few we’d recommend:
Content marketing is unquestionably a crucial component of your wider B2B marketing team today. If you’re not doing some form of content marketing, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to engage with customers, and probably even falling behind your competitors.
However, as mentioned earlier, effective content marketing requires a long-term strategy, and isn’t something you should rush. If you’re going to do this, it’s well worth investing the necessary time and effort to do it well.
A key part of that is taking your time to fully understand the requirements, setting a targeted strategy that aligns with your business goals, defining the role, and hiring the right person to execute for you.
If you follow all the advice detailed in this guide, you should be well on your way to establishing a content marketing engine that’s set up for success.
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