Content marketing can’t happen in a silo – well, effective content marketing can’t happen in a silo. Previously, we’ve highlighted why a content team should be tight with product marketing and demand generation – now, we’re tackling how overall organizational silos can negatively impact content marketing.
It’s not in an organization’s best interest for a content team to work independently from other marketing functions, sales and customer success – all three use content in their daily jobs and can provide important information that can help a content marketer do better work. By identifying the silos that hold back content production, amplification, and other elements important to content’s success, the quality of content can be improved. Why? Ultimately, by collaborating with different functions and departments, a content marketing team will:
- Gain valuable insights regarding target audience needs and wants
- Learn how different departments use content and/or how they would like to use content
- Be able to build a better content strategy that works for everyone interacting with and using content
- Create content that will have a bigger business impact
A content marketing team can take steps to make sure that content planning is a team effort to ensure its effectiveness. Here are some tips to get your content team introducing collaboration within the larger marketing team, as well as sales and customer success.
Start with the Marketing Team First
Marketing teams are often siloed based on functionality. Product, demand generation, operations, SEO, events, etc. likely work in isolation. The common thread between all of these functions is often the content team. Each function requires copy of some sort, and this provides an opportunity for content marketing to start chipping away at barriers.
As a content marketer, I know how taxing it can be when requests (usually at the last minute) for web, ad, email and collateral copy come from the rest of the marketing team and distract from the content you want/need to be working on. Aligning the marketing team around a shared content strategy that will focus all respective campaigns and projects on common themes and messaging will make a content marketing team’s role more effective and time management possible. For example, if the content team is blogging about Topic X all month then the demand generation team should also be creating campaigns about Topic X – instead of Topic Y, for which no content currently exists.
To break down the marketing silos that hinder content’s success, the content team needs to improve communication and the flow in which information is shared across functions. Below are some methods to open up collaboration between marketing functions:
- Find a communication tool that works for everyone, and use it for all content-related communication so that it is always accessible and traceable
- Create an editorial calendar that is available to everyone so that upcoming blog posts, whitepapers, etc. are known and can be planned around
- Involve marketing counterparts in the planning of big rock content pieces so that any requests or requirements for SEO, demand generation, etc. can be accounted for and planned for early
The Sales Team
We have previously discussed how one-off requests from the sales team can distract from a content strategy – read that here. While one-off requests can negatively impact a content strategy, the sales team is an extremely valuable resource to a content marketing team. They deal with prospective customers on a daily basis and know exactly what content they need to push people all the way through the sales cycle.
Instead of handing the sales team the content that you think they need, actually ask them what they need – then fold that into your content strategy. Ask them about any recurring questions they get from prospects and what types of content can be used to help them close deals. This isn’t a one-time conversation – regularly check-in to find out which content pieces have stopped working and what they need to be replaced with.
If you can provide access to an editorial calendar, do that too so that they’re aware of what’s coming up and can plan for how it can be used.
The Customer Success Team
The customer success team can provide insights into your organization’s current customer base – their pain points, weaknesses, common inquiries and much more. They have a lot of information that can help content marketers understand who they are writing for and why. They can even introduce you to some customers, allowing you to go straight to the source for persona research and to bounce ideas off of.
Additionally – just like the rest of your marketing team and the sales crew – customer success needs content too. Content can be used to answer common questions that customers have about a product or a topic related to an organization’s offering. It can also be used as a “Hey, I thought of you when I read this” email to reconnect with customers and start a conversation.
As with the sales team, it’s important to remember that interviewing customer success once isn’t sufficient. New customers and evolving offerings may breed new pain points and other considerations that are important for a content strategy. Also – make your editorial calendar available, and send over links once content pieces are live.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to feel good about stealing time away from colleagues to help you do your job better – but the organization as a whole will benefit from better, more effective content.
While structure is required in order for a business to be successful, structure shouldn’t equal silos – especially when it comes to content. It’s easy for different functions to get caught in a siloed mentality, and while it’s not a realistic expectation for a content marketing team to shift an entire corporate culture, it’s possible to open up collaboration between key stakeholders to ensure that content is the best that it can be.