How to Think Like an In-House Content Marketer

The post below is written by Danny Denhard, Senior SEO Manager for Voucher Codes. He was asked to pull together a post giving the in house view on employing content marketing services…

Content marketing is not just a buzzword; agencies have made the shift from pure play SEO to become content marketing houses. Coming from eleven years’ experience with a blend of in-house and agency side work it has been an interesting trend to watch since moving back in-house at the beginning of 2012.

Content Marketing is a discipline I would recommend any online marketer takes seriously, this year will see great content projects going mainstream but 2013 has already shown creativity is playing a large part of content marketing which is refreshing after the infographic flood of 2012.

In many situations as an in-house marketer you are given the dilemma of trying to utilise in-house talent or outsourcing to an agency or a possibly even a number of different agencies. I thought I would run through a proven process that might help you manage in-house content marketing projects.

With any creative project you should run through a number of questions

  • What is your total marketing budget?
  • Do you have in house resource?
  • Will it be the same quality as an agency can create?
  • Who is responsible for design?
  • Do you design in house or use an external agency?
  • Do you have a specialist agency?
  • Do you trust the agency?
  • Does your agency have the track history in creating quality content?
  • Outreach – who is managing it? Is the outreach email signed off?
  • What do I want to achieve at the end of the project?

Obviously, once these questions are answered you are ready to push on with your project. ??If you are using an agency it is crucial you extend your team and welcome the agency employees in, (for however long they are involved) an unhappy or disjointed team is not a successful one.

The next step is breaking down each element of content marketing.

Understanding of the Strategy

Always think: does it pass the mum test? ?Once you know the concept, can you sell the creative in a tweet, if you cannot you might want to rethink the project. It is essential someone can understand the project in one sentence. ?Ensure if you work with the team internally that each person taking part understands the complete strategy and how their part in the process helps gain results. ?If you are working with an agency, ensure the work they undertake is logged and transparent. ?If the agency are sending outreach emails you should ensure that you are happy with the content of the email and have a list of people and companies they are contacting. I don’t need to tell you how annoying being contacted a number of times about the same thing can be.

Core Components and Completions of Tasks

Always think: tasks and deadlines. ?What is essential in content marketing projects is breaking down every task and ensuring everyone knows who is responsible for each part, this can make or break tight deadlines. It is important you have strict deadlines at each task, as projects can easily slip and your calendar and killer hook may be in jeopardy.

Deliverables and Campaign KPIs

Always think: What are the KPI’s? ?I cannot emphasise how important it is for every team member to understand their objectives and how it fits into the project. Ensure accountability but it’s essential to remember in content marketing that results come in many different formats.

Results

Always think: what is success. ?We are in a results game, at the beginning it is fair to create a list of targeted results, where that means success in the form of links, what sites used your piece of creative, the mentions you had or increasingly important what were the social engagements. ?If you are working with an agency, I would usually recommend two types of reporting, the first would be for them to keep record of the wins on the project and share as it happens, the second is your own reporting. It is very important that you see your wins, the agency wins and the project wins as they happen. Accountability is always important, please do not forget to praise the wins. ?Review the results after the project and then revisit, were there any wins from direct marketing? It is important for the project and future projects that you track and report any wins.

My seven essential parts of content marketing:

  • Management – who and what?
  • Idea – what is that killer idea and can you explain it in under a tweet?
  • What is the hook?
  • Outreach and seeding? Who, what and where?
  • Deadline – when is it?
  • Delivery – how and who is going to deliver what?
  • Results – what are they? Are they realistic? Revisit after six weeks of activity.

The TL:DR Recap:

  • Make the difficult decisions early
  • Pick the right agency; often the biggest agency is not the best for your project. Ensure you trust the agency completely
  • Do not be afraid to scrap the project if you are struggling to visualise it
  • Never forget the project is your brands project not the agencies
  • The design section will be the hardest, be led by the experts but be firm if they are going off brief or away from brand guidelines
  • You must have buy in from all members
  • Transparency is essential
  • Target outreach and ensure the wider team are in agreement
  • Report everything and often
  • Praise people and the work – content marketing projects are stressful.
  • NEVER EVER force the project

Keep an eye on our blog later this week for the Agency-side take on the subject.

  • http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/ zazzlemedia

    Thanks for the post Danny. Great to get some insight from your side of the fence. What would you say your greatest challenge is when bringing in such services?

  • dannydenhard

    @zazzlemedia Thanks guys. Looking forward to the Agency-side article.  The biggest challenges faced are –
    * understanding the brief 
    * all team members understanding the project ahead
    * agency who want to control the whole process
    * time constraints  
    * lack of transparency

    • http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/ zazzlemedia

      @dannydenhard it sounds like problems are generally very process led as opposed to delivery/execution led?

      • dannydenhard

        @zazzlemedia definitely – make execution part of the overall strategy and the project should succeed.
        If you can break the project down at a process level you can review the process and improve for the next project(s).