Even the most bullet-proof, ROI-focused growth strategy can’t hide ugly.
It can’t hide a poor product, leaky processes, uninspiring customer experience, low team member moral, or a purely transactional marketing strategy.
While there are many methods for driving traffic, increasing awareness, reaching potential customers, and creating the illusion of a positive company culture, there are no silver bullets that will ever replace a superior brand experience that people can touch, taste, and feel.
This is why the content marketer needs to think more like a brand journalist and consider the whole story.
Thinking like a brand journalist means constantly considering how content can be ingrained into the fabric of every company department. Incorporating a cross-departmental strategy means content marketers must regard overall customer experience and content as symbiotic, not separate. What customers insights can be learned from the sales team? From the product development team? From support?
Examples speak louder than concepts, and in this case, there are few better examples of what an all-hands approach might look like in the wild than at Buffer, the popular social media sharing tool that is widely known in the tech space for its people-first company culture and radical transparency.
Buffer is a fully distributed company, which means everyone (including the founders) on the team contributes to different areas of the business, especially in content creation.
How this actually manifests in the growth arena is interesting. Buffer’s content strategy is wide reaching and engages different audiences and identified needs, but it still maintains a strong anchor of value to connect the different parts to a larger whole.
Take, for example, their regular forays (both on their blog and elsewhere) into Buffer’s open company culture, where both the co-founders and team members share their experiences on a wide range of topics. This includes the benefits and challenges of working as a fully remote company, their hands-on, immersive hiring practices, and even their beloved 10 core values that live permanently in a SlideShare deck that anyone can access and read.
On the product side of the equation, Buffer team members regularly write about their processes and experiences along the iterative journey, as did Niel de la Rouviere—a front end developer at Buffer—in breaking down the evolution of their content suggestions feature.
What’s most apparent is that this approach to fully engaging everyone in the growth of the company is that not only does it create a stronger overall company narrative, it creates compelling results as well.
Buffer’s blog posts regularly generate social shares in the thousands (even as they increasingly experiment with their content), their email newsletter has well over 40,000 subscribers and growing, and the company recently reported continued, healthy revenue growth despite an increase in cost investments.
So, what does this mean for you and other content marketers tasked with leading the KPI parade?
If we can learn anything from Buffer’s case study and apply it to a more traditionally flat business model, it’s that no one department can lead this charge without contribution and collaboration from everyone who has a stake in company growth.
But before laying a single brick in the foundation, you need to first decide who’s ultimately accountable for making content marketing an all-company focus.
Although all departments should be involved, you still need to hold a team accountable for the processes, the strategies, and the accountability necessary to keep the train on the tracks. Otherwise, you’ve got a recipe for disconnect that could leave your content efforts scattered.
Marketing is best equipped to lead this charge, and not just because they are the most obviously qualified and close to the content, but because they must rely on other departments to participate so that they can gain deeper insights into what is most valuable to customers.
Marketing will be tasked with creating the framework and process of integrating the content strategy with overall company growth, which also means they need to earn the confidence of other departments to buy in and get ready to contribute.
The challenge here is striking the right balance between telling employees what to do, what to write, and how to produce that content, and leading by example, perhaps the most effective way to educate other departments.
You want buy-in on your cross-departmental content vision? Then you have to start by empowering your marketing team with what they need to educate the rest of your company on a variety of topics that relate to the vision: everything from the basics of market research to content best practices.
Ultimately, what you want to see is that the education process leads to increased collaboration and processes that encourage breaking down silos. This is why the content marketer must think like a brand journalist and consider the whole company story.
While you can’t certainly force collaboration—and you don’t always have the advantage of starting with an all-hands, collaborative approach that is ingrained in the business model (like Buffer)—you can nurture the process into seed stage by setting the precedent that content marketers in your company aren’t just focusing on tying their efforts to established KPIs.
They’re looking at the larger narrative of what a seamless customer experience and content strategy might look like if everyone in your company starts speaking the same language.
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