When people think of business content, I would imagine that written content is the first thing that comes to mind. However, content marketing at its fullest requires a variety of content skill sets beyond just writing.
Different members of your audience want to consume content in different ways. So it’s on you to remove the barriers to consumption by delivering content in all the ways your audience wants: written, visual, video, and audio.
And, of course, no content marketing operation is complete without the analytics to determine what’s performing well and what you could do to improve.
If you’re thinking about outsourcing your content marketing, you need to figure out which of these five areas you want to outsource. This involves looking at your team and finding gaps. For example, if you have a great designer but no writers, then you should outsource a writer to compliment your in-house designer.
If you don’t take the time to figure this out, you may end up paying for services you don’t need and scratching your head as to whether or not this is doing anything for your business.
Here the five content skill sets your company needs in order to succeed at content marketing.
1. The Writer
No matter what medium you use, all content starts with the written (or spoken) word. This is the case regardless of the goal: establishing your brand authority, solving a specific buyer problem, or communicating your unique value proposition to the market.
That means your writer is going to be your most important content hire. You must bring on someone who can communicate your brand in the right personality, voice, and tone to accurately reflect who you are–doing so in a way that resonates with your audience.
Here are just a few things they’re responsible for:
- Voice & Personality. Do you speak formally, like in an academic presentation or whitepaper, or informally, using contractions and slang? Is it more important to come across as knowledgeable, or down-to-earth? Do you allow for humor in your writing, or are you all business, all the time?
- Tone(s). I use the plural here because there are certain tones appropriate for various pieces of content. Social media posts by their very nature are informal and conversational, while case studies or business proposals are very formal and data-driven.
- Point of View. There are many different points of view for a certain piece of content. A blog post, like the one I’m writing right now, can be from a single person’s point of view. A webpage will be written from a brand’s point of view, while a case study can be written from a customer’s.
- Approach. How do you solve the problems your customers are facing? Do you go with a data-and-stats-first approach? Or do you lead with anecdote? Do you lean on intuitive wisdom or provide citations for every single claim you make?
This is a lot of responsibility to lay on a single creative person. As such, your writer should be able to work with you and your team to figure out exactly what you want people’s experience with your brand to be. Here are some of the traits to look out for:
- Ability to communicate clearly and simply; not pretentious in how they write
- Responsive to feedback and able to adapt their writing style to your business needs
- High level of productivity in terms of content quantity
- Skill in generating and repurposing content for various channels
- Desire to listen to customers, their questions and feedback
Taking the time to bring on a good writer will lay a solid foundation for your entire content marketing operation.
2. The Designer
Building your website. Designing your blog images. Creating social media graphics. Curating your image library. These are things you absolutely need a designer to help with. Your visual identity is what sets you apart as a brand.
While the words you write help establish who you are and the unique value you provide to the market, designers make your brand more recognizable and visually appealing.
When you first start out as a small company, you may not have the ability to bring on a full-time desire. You may not even have a contractor, so you probably use Canva templates or something similar just so you have something to use. But as you start to bring in more revenue and grow out of this initial “scratch and claw” stage, you should bring on a designer as soon as possible.
You need someone who’s going to “own” your visual identity and brand management side of the company, as well as the skill set to make sure everything you publish is visually engaging–and consistent.
The alternative is often “design by committee,” where everyone tries to guide the visual direction of the company and what ends up happening is the worst of both worlds. Or, worse, you get someone who thinks they’re a designer and isn’t.
Here are some qualities you’ll want to look out for:
- A keen eye for visual attributes, including fonts, colors, alignment; they see things that no one else notices
- The initiative to not only respond to problems and projects but to be on the lookout for problems to fix
- A skill set that expands beyond colors, typefaces, and image file formats, but can include front-end web design, animation, or other skills to help you be more agile in creating various types of content
- The ability to take abstract ideas and implement them practically as design elements
- Responsiveness to feedback, but also pushes back when demands are unreasonable, or you just have an idea that’s plain bad
If you have someone who can help you build a unique visual identity, your content won’t just be helpful: it’ll be something pleasing to your audience.
3. The Videographer
With video content becoming a higher strategic priority among many businesses, and with a variety of ways to deploy that video, you should seriously consider bringing on someone who can create high-quality video content for your company.
While most people understand the value of writing and designing as content skill sets, a videographer isn’t always top-of-mind. It’s possible that happens because companies haven’t utilized video production enough in the past to justify a full time hire.
But that’s starting to change. Video content gets you more engagement than written or image-based content, and 51% of marketers cite video as the content with the highest ROI. That’s not surprising, given the various ways that you can use video as marketing content:
- Educational explainer videos
- Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat stories
- Keynote presentations
- Case study videos with your clients
- Product description videos
- Brand essence videos
If you’re interested in bringing on someone to help with videography, here are a few things to look out for:
- Ability to create a wide variety of videos (staged, candid, live events, documentary, animated explainers, etc.)
- Comfort in being a “fly on the wall” to capture moments at your company
- Instinct to capture key moments of long-form presentations and repackage them in short form
- Interview skills for both your team and your customers
- Working knowledge of the various social media channels and how to create content specifically tailored to each one
4. The Audio Producer
With the rise of podcasting as a popular medium, more companies are starting to produce podcasts and audiobooks.
There are plenty of benefits to audio content. It’s easily digestible; most people listen to podcasts on their commutes, while working out, or doing chores around the house. Plus, it’s easier to ask someone to listen to something passive like a podcast than to download and actively read an eBook.
There’s also a certain level of intimacy and anticipation that comes with podcasting. People invest emotionally in whomever they’re listening to. If you’re consistent in deploying podcasts, people will start to anticipate that content and come back to you again and again.
If you’re bringing on someone to help with audio production, here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
- Knowledge of the equipment used in audio production, and what gets the best sound
- Expertise in setting up a studio (even if it’s makeshift) for optimal sound quality
- Ability to listen to an interview and select the parts your audience will enjoy
- Willingness to coach your team members in audio communication to make them sound the best they possibly can
Audio producers are not as highly sought-after as writers, designers, and videographers, but they’re an important group of skilled creatives that your business needs if you want to gain maximum exposure among your audience.
5. The Analyst
Producing content is great. But if you don’t have the metrics to tell you what’s working and what isn’t, you’re not going to maximize the impact your content could have. More than that, you could spend an inordinate amount of time on something that’s moving you in the wrong direction.
Ultimately, there’s no benefit in producing content if it’s not going to positively impact the business’ bottom line. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean direct attribution for leads and sales, but even brand-oriented content has to be able to demonstrate that it’s moving the business forward, even if that’s in terms of visibility, engagement, web traffic, or other top-of-funnel metrics.
Simply put, you need someone to tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, and where the new opportunities for investment lie. The tools are out there, so there’s no excuse to not know exactly how your content is performing and what steps you should take to improve.
That’s where having a data analyst is vital. You’re looking for someone who can:
- Understand general content marketing KPIs as well as specific KPIs for individual mediums and channels
- Gather the data to accurately identify benchmarks and compare your performance against said benchmarks
- Cut through the vanity metrics to see which pieces of content are generating ROI
- Provide specific, actionable recommendations to your content production team to improve content performance based on the metrics
These five content skill sets are necessary if you want to build a full, scalable content marketing operation. You don’t have to outsource all five at once, but you do need someone to meet each of these needs.
Only then will you have a content marketing operation that will drive your business to your goals, and beyond.
If you’re considering outsourcing content skill sets, consider how FEARLESS can help you create, promote, and develop a strategy around your content and increase your impact on your industry.
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