Effective content marketing can take your entire company to another level. It can spread awareness of your brand, as well as create a following that’s hooked on the material you release and eager to consume your future offerings.
Content marketing that is done well should lead indirectly to more sales for the company that produces it. However, many businesses are lagging behind when it comes to actualizing the power of this type of marketing.
According to a recent Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs survey, although 88 percent of the business-to-business companies that were surveyed said they use content marketing, only 30 percent of them considered their organization effective at it. Additionally, only 44 percent thought their company was clear on what a successful content marketing program looks like.
The same survey revealed that companies that excel the most at content marketing use an average of 42 percent of their total marketing budget on this particular strategy, which is much higher than the current norm. These proficient companies also use a higher number of content marketing tactics and social media platforms on average than businesses that are struggling with this discipline.
One of the most critical steps in boosting your company’s content marketing game is to find a competent and qualified content marketer. This means looking for someone who can bring more to the table than just copywriting competence. Hiring a qualified content marketer can be a time-intensive process, but it will be worth it if you find the right individual.
Before we get into how to find a qualified content marketer, let’s back up a bit and make sure we’re on the same page about what content marketing is.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing aims to educate or entertain consumers in hopes of retaining customers or attracting new ones. This type of content eschews a sales pitch and makes little-to-no mention of the company behind it. It also has the potential to change or enhance consumer behavior, according to the Content Marketing Institute. This material hasn’t always been free to the consumer, but as it has reared its head in the online world, it more commonly appears at no cost to the public – or even to its subscribers.
Content marketing was actually known as “branded content” for several years before marketers started to glom onto the newer term. What we now know as content marketing has existed since before the 20th century. Its origins are often traced to John Deere’s creation of “The Furrow” agricultural journal for consumers.
Other Non-Digital Examples of Content Marketing
Did you know soap opera got its name from the soap manufacturers such as Proctor & Gamble that used to exclusively sponsor this type of radio and television content?
Content marketing really started taking off in the 1980s, led by Hasbro and Marvel’s creation of a “G.I. Joe” comic book. LEGO launched what is now known as the “LEGO Club” magazine a few years after. These were indirect methods of trying to boost the sales of certain action figures and kids toys.
Other industries have followed suit, such as Red Bull launching “The Red Bulletin” magazine roughly 10 years ago. Meanwhile, beer manufacturer Leinenkugel’s has included a self-published newspaper in every 12-pack of its product for several years now.
There are countless other examples across almost every industry. For an example local to us here at Eminent SEO, the renowned “Arizona Highways” magazine is actually operated by the Arizona Department of Transportation.
What are the Main Channels for Content Marketing Distribution?
Content marketing online is generally cheaper to produce than past print- and TV-based material, and the barriers to entry are lower than they used to be. However, this content has to be released at a much faster rate than before. Online content marketing material almost always involves some amount of writing, but it goes well beyond just the company’s blog.
The most common digital content marketing channels include:
- Social media
- Blogs and other website articles
- White papers and eBooks
- Webinars, webcasts and podcasts
- Online presentations, such as through SlideShare
- Research reports
Many businesses that are committed to content marketing have also cited in-person events as an effective outlet for expanding their message.
According to the aforementioned Content Marketing Institute-MarketingProfs survey, the most effective social media platforms for B2B content marketers are (in order):
What it Takes to Find and Hire a Qualified Content Marketer
Now that we’re clear on what content marketing is, let’s explore the process you should put in place in order to find a highly qualified content marketer. The right candidate is going to need a mix of skills that goes beyond copywriting. You should probably establish this process as more of an audition rather than a series of interviews.
Start by Writing a Targeted Job Posting
Get the ball rolling by writing a strong job ad. This posting needs to catch a content marketer’s eye, and it needs to be clear and specific to the open position.
Using boilerplate language about your company will hurt your chances of finding the perfect candidate. You need to tailor the job posting to the specific tasks involved as well as the skills and qualities you’re looking for.
Don’t overwhelm the job seeker by listing every minute responsibility they would have. Nonetheless, you still don’t want your posting to be overly open-ended regarding which tasks they would be doing and which programs they need to know.
As far as where you should post your job ad, here are a few ideas:
- We Work Remotely (if it’s OK for the marketer to not come into your office every day)
- Your own blog or eNewsletter
What to Ask For
For your job posting’s submission requests, here’s what you should ask for:
- A resume (not a C.V.)
- Three links to exemplary online writing samples
- A sample pitch email for three topics that would mesh with your company’s existing blog
On your end, the resume doesn’t need to have as much emphasis as it would for most other positions. However, it’s still important to receive one so you can see if the candidate’s history of achievement in academia and the workforce translates well to your open content marketing position.
With your candidates’ writing samples, you need to look for someone whose writing isn’t dull and who can handle relaying high-brow or technical information in an engaging way. You also want to see if they can handle writing longer pieces, such as 1,000-1,500 words or more. And finally, if the samples they gave you have social signals, take a look at those to make sure the writer has been able to reach a sizeable audience.
In the pitch email, the candidate should feature three ideas for your company’s blog. In this email, you should also look for an engaging hook, and an overallmessage that’s concise and in line with the style of communication in your industry.
Going Beyond the Resume: Putting Their Writing to the Test
For the candidates that pass your initial assessment, you should put their writing to the test with an assignment. This will give both parties an idea of what it’s like to work with each other.
Choose one pitch for each candidate and ask them to begin bringing the idea to fruition. It’s best to pick one of the pitches that’s a little out of the candidate’s wheelhouse – judging by their resume – so that they have to do some research in order to return with the first draft. Give the candidates a few days (maybe even a week) and ask for about 1,000 words.
For each applicant, if you see potential in their first draft, give them feedback and suggested revisions. Once they have acknowledged receiving your suggestions, give them two hours to return with a revised piece. This step is crucial to see if they can work on deadline. If the applicant has incorporated your suggestions to your liking and the piece meets your company standards, then he or she gets to move on to the final evaluation.
Interviewing In-Person or via Webcam
No, you don’t need to wait until this far into the process to conduct the first interview. You can actually do it right before the revision deadline if you want, as it will be clear when the two-hour deadline starts – when the interview concludes or as soon as they get home. Otherwise, you can just schedule the interview sometime after the applicant submits his or her revised written assignment.
You should block out an hour for the interview, at minimum. Ideally, an interview for a qualified content marketer would last 2 to 2.5 hours. The first half should consist of you asking them questions, while the second half should be their questions for you. As you’re probably aware, if the candidate isn’t asking very many questions about the job or the company, he or she will have a harder time earning the job offer.
As you interview the applicant, you’ll get a better idea if his or her personality will mesh with your company’s culture, which will be important in a position that usually involves a lot of collaboration. You’ll also want to ask about which platforms and digital tools the candidate is comfortable with, as well as what ideas he or she has for raising brand awareness beyond simply writing a good blog post.
Making Your Final Decision
A qualified content marketer will not only be able to write for various platforms, but will also need to possess the following qualities:
- Networking skills (online and in person)
- Research skills
- Basic design knowledge (image and web page)
- An idea of which topics can generate interest
- Basic SEO knowledge
- Familiarity with multiple digital tools
- Willingness to learn new programs, platforms and methods
- Forward-thinking ideas on how to boost your marketing efforts
It can be hard to gauge each candidate’s competence in those areas based on their writing samples, the writing exercise and an interview, but you should be able to come pretty close. Some of these skills can be acquired along the way if you find an applicant who is flexible and astute enough. Once you’ve aligned all of the variables and decided on the right person, try to make your offer within a couple of days.
Also, don’t forget to notify the candidates who didn’t make the cut. They longer they made it through your process, the more detailed of an email they should receive. Tell them where they impressed you and where they could have improved. The ones who went through the ringer to land a job with your company deserve at least that much.
Now That You Have Your New Content Marketer
With your new content marketer on board, make sure to give the individual the support they need and be open to hearing their ideas on where to go next. As you read earlier, effective content marketing involves allocating a reasonable portion of your marketing budget to this area.
Even great content marketers won’t succeed if the company doesn’t have a solid strategy in place. The B2B companies that excel the most at content marketing meet weekly to discuss their strategy (not daily, not monthly, etc.), according to the CMI-MarketingProfs survey.
What are your goals with content marketing: Brand awareness? Lead generation? Engagement Boost? Customer Retention? It’s going to differ by the industry you’re in and the existing resources you have within your company. No matter what your strategy is, it’s going be much more successful if you’ve chosen the most motivated and proficient content marketer that replied to your job listing.