The role of the marketing department is evolving. To deliver tangible value to your organization the marketing department needs to shift from being creators of marketing campaigns to creators of stories. But, the best story telling usually comes from employees and customers.
The days of the marketing department creating a story from scratch are on their way out. In some industries, the marketing department is comprised of an army of creative types who can craft amazing stories. If this doesn’t describe your marketing department, don’t fret. You’re the majority, not the minority.
I offer these 5 steps to creating interesting and compelling content that creates brand awareness, consideration and action.
Identify a theme or topic bigger than your products
What does your company stand for that aligns with your brand’s purpose? Apparently Chipotle Scarecrow stands for clean, natural foods. HubSpot’s Inbound concept stands for personalized marketing people love. Citrix stands for a workshifting workforce. Once you identify a theme or a cause that is bigger than your company, you should strive to create a movement around this cause, no different than supporting a charitable cause. Your cause will have a capitalistic end game, but the passion for the cause should be genuine enough that the profit gain doesn’t prevail in the execution of your content outreach plan.
Identify and interview subject matter experts
Once you have a theme or cause identified that clearly aligns with your company’s mission and values you need to identify the people in and outside your company who have expertise on this topic. The content marketing team should arrange interviews with them on specific topics that support the cause. Ideally, each interview should be video recorded. Make it easy for the SMEs to participate. Be sure to communicate the entire process so that they understand their responsibility is mostly to contribute knowledge on a given subject and that your team will do the heavy lifting associated with converting the interview into high quality content.
Create content from the interviews
IMPORTANT: The marketing department must do the heavy lifting in this process for it to work. Once you have interviewed SMEs, go away and re-purpose that interview into valuable content. Consider ways to create multiple content pieces from that one interview. You might use excerpts from the video interview. You might create an infographic from the interview. You might create several long form pieces of content including blog posts, white papers or an e-book. You might also use the audio from the interview as a series of podcast interviews with the right planning. The point is to leverage a one hour interview into multiple content pieces that align with the primary cause.
Review the content with the SMEs
By now, you’ve already created goodwill with the SMEs because you have not required much of their time. You’ve explained to them how you plan to convert a one hour interview into multiple pieces of content authored in their name. Now, you should review your content output with the person (or people) you interviewed. Ask them for a reasonable turn around time of their review, for example two weeks. If they have not returned feedback to you, gain agreement to publish this content. Be sure to copy the appropriate chain of command to cover all your bases.
Once the content is available, the marketing department should do the requisite social sharing. While this is an obvious step, I need to point out a best practice which often gets overlooked. Don’t promote the content. Promote the cause. Promoting the content is a thinly disguised sales pitch. Promoting the cause shows that your brand cares about the bigger picture. Enlist employees to promote the cause. Hopefully, you’ll have many employees who share a passion for the cause. Consider an internal communication plan to explain the importance of the cause, to get employees to understand it and embrace it. When you ask them to support the cause by sharing the content, it will be a natural extension of their authentic behavior.
This 5 step process to producing content is fool-proof for two reasons.
- It relies on the subject matter expertise of employees or other stakeholders (e.g., customers) who share a belief in the common cause.
- It shifts the burden of creating content from subject matter experts to the marketing team.
In this model, the role of the marketing department shifts to journalists and story tellers. The most progressive social businesses are moving rapidly in this direction.