March 8, 2021 Content Chat Recap: Small Content Marketing Team? Here’s How to Drive Big Results

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is how small content marketing teams can drive big results, with guest Ann Gynn.

Content marketers often wish they could add members to their team, equating more people with greater potential results. While there is an inherent advantage of having more people on your content team, the reality is that even a team of just one or two can drive equal—or even higher quality—results compared to a large team. So how can they do it?

In this #ContentChat, we’re joined by marketing consultant and editor of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) blog Ann Gynn to discuss how small content marketing teams can drive big results. Read the full recap below, where we share what a minimum viable content marketing strategy should include, tools to boost the efficiency of your work, and resources to help bolster your marketing skills.

Q1: What skills are essential for an in-house content marketer with a small (or no) team? What skills can be outsourced as needed?

In-house content marketers should be skilled in strategy development, project management, editorial planning, and community management.

A1: Essential in-house skill = strategy, editorial planning, community management. #ContentChat https://t.co/gcuOu4RW7h

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A1: Not an expert in strategy, community ? It’s OK to get outside counsel/assist but ask a lot of questions and learn as much as possible so you become an expert. #ContentChat https://t.co/qT4gCmIaPJ

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A1a: In-house content marketers who head up small teams need to be strategic, excellent project managers, and really understand their business and how it fits into their industry. #ContentChat https://t.co/BU4LH0GA7U

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

A1: Strategy, writing & being able to give feedback on writing, and project management.

We’re outsourcing a bulk of the writing to give me more bandwidth to focus on the larger strategy. #ContentChat

— Berrak Sarıkaya 😷 (@BerrakBiz) March 8, 2021

Feedback is key. And make time to find the right people for your content creation & promotion. It’s not easy. But done right – with a detailed editorial calendar – it’s a smart investment of limited time and budget. #ContentChat https://t.co/B4wl3grlkB

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

An in-house content marketer must have a deep understanding of their organization, its services or products, the internal dynamics at play, and the overarching business goals. They must also be aware of how their organization fits into the wider industry in which they operate and the competitive landscape.

A1a: In-house content marketers also need to be able to plug into the larger business unit and understand how everything fits together. #ContentChat

— Berrak Sarıkaya 😷 (@BerrakBiz) March 8, 2021

Agreed. If you are expecting a freelance writer whose sole conduit into the org is you to be able to manage this…you are setting them—and you— up for failure. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

A1 Wouldn’t the most critical (non-outsourceable) skill/knowledge for a small content team be understanding the connection between what the organization is doing and how to get the word out about it? #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 8, 2021

A1. The actual writing can be outsourced if a tight creative brief is ready but yes the strategy and the tactics should be done by the content marketer who understands how best their plan fits with the rest of the business goal. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 8, 2021

Outsource marketing skills related to content creation and promotion as needed.

A1: Outsource skills = content creation and promotion. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A1b: Many of the deep and narrow content creation and promotion activities lend themselves to outsourcing, including SEM, paid social, content creation. #ContentChat https://t.co/GoWjuK7GEX

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

Agree on the strategy and editorial planning. I think outsourcing the SEO research element of that strategy makes sense for a lot of teams, as long as you have close collab w/ that partner. #ContentChat https://t.co/TEPryOB9jm

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) March 8, 2021

Q2: What should a minimum viable content marketing strategy include? Why is this document essential for content marketing teams of any size?

Your content strategy should include your target audience (who), topics and formats to reach them (what), timing (when), distribution and communication channels (where), and your goals and value add for your community (why).

Content strategy = map. Without, you – and everyone else involved – don’t know where you’re going. #ContentChat https://t.co/OVuNXLiDjT

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A2: A minimum viable content strategy should include the who (target audience), the why (for the business and the audience), the what (topics + format), the when & where (frequency, distribution channels). #ContentChat https://t.co/OVuNXLiDjT

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A2: At the very least, content marketing strategy should include:

– Personas/target audience
– Content themes (that should ladder up to biz goals)
– Editorial planning
– Distribution Strategy
– Budget/resourcing#ContentChat

— Berrak Sarıkaya 😷 (@BerrakBiz) March 8, 2021

A2 Just ran my team through a “skinny” marketing strategy development process for their programs. Answer:
WHAT you are trying to do
WHO you need to do it
WHY they are going to do it
HOW you’re going to get to do it and measure how well you accomplished that task! #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 8, 2021

A #contentmarketing strategy should include at least a
👉well defined content marketing plan
👉Identified tactics for distribution
👉Clearly defined customer personas #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 8, 2021

Without a written content strategy, your team is likely engaging in random acts of content with no strategic purpose.

And without that content road map, you are just engaging in random acts of content. Who has time for that?!?! #ContentChat https://t.co/bs3hwhCGPX

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

A2: BTW, I’m also a believer that a strategy not written down is NOT a strategy. You need everybody on the same page – literally. #PetPeeve #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

Aim to have a one-page content marketing strategy so it is easy to digest. Link out to more comprehensive playbooks or individual plans as relevant.

A2: I’m a big believer in the one-page content marketing strategy. Research shows that a documented strategy is a distinguishing factor between top and bottom performers. #ContentChat https://t.co/OVuNXLiDjT

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A one-pager is easy to digest, aligns all your stakeholders, and can link out to a more comprehensive playbook or individual channel plans, as needed. I find the longer docs are more necessary for larger decentralized teams. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

A trick that we use is telling folks to be prepared to communicate ideas in one paragraph, one page and in five pages, depending on how much time (and how important) the idea is to what you’re doing. That helps keep things simple but allows room for elaboration. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 8, 2021

And remember that an editorial calendar is not the same as a content marketing strategy. You need a separate strategy document.

A2: As an aside, an editorial calendar is NOT the same thing as a content marketing strategy.

The calendar = the documentation of the tactics and channels wherein you are executing on the content strategy.

This may seem obvious, but, no. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

Q3: What tools do you recommend for small content marketing teams to perform more efficiently?

Review your typical workflow and identify any hurdles in the process. Use these hurdles to drive your search for new tools.

A3: Well, before you pick the tool(s), map out your process, from idea to publication, promotion to analytics. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A3: The key is to find tool(s) that work for how you/your team learn. For me, I prefer tools that don’t require a big learning curve. I’m more likely to use them. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

The community shares their favorite content marketing tools below. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know in the comments, and tell us how you use the tool.

A3: Workflow/tracking: I’ve worked with clients who use Google Sheets, Airtable, Trello, & shared Excel documents. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A3: For team communication, I’ve worked with clients who stick to email. Others create a Slack channel or use Microsoft Teams. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A3: I feel like I say this every #ContentChat, but @trello has been incredibly helpful in organizing different pieces of content strategy and editorial calendar. It’s easy to visualize assignments, posting schedules, etc.

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) March 8, 2021

A3: For scheduling and promotion, I’ve worked with Hootsuite, Later, CoSchedule. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

Shameless plug – if you’re using shared spreadsheets or Google Sheets, you really should look at @AirTable… for most marketing solutions your team can use the free version to get what you need done and it’s so much more useful than a “flat” sheet (or sheets) #ContentChat https://t.co/aevouDo7lG

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 8, 2021

A3: My must-have minimum viable #contentmarketing toolset includes: @SproutSocial @MeetEdgar @hootsuite @BuzzSumo @semrush @evernote and G drive. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

Q4: How can marketing teams extend the value of the content they create?

Plan at least three different uses for any one piece of content. Find a topic and angle that is unique from what is already out there and of interest to your audience.

A4: It starts in the idea stage. Plan for multi-use content. Ask what topic and angle would resonate best with your audience and be different from everyone else’s. #ContentChat (1/2)

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A4: Identify the pieces to create from the centerpeice – an infographic, a podcast snippet, an interactive quiz, an Instagram post, etc. Don’t limit yourself to just 1 or 2 choices. #ContentChat (3/3)

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A4: Before you start on creating any new piece of content, think through how it can and should be reused in other content formats, on various channels, and in existing content nurture streams. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

Create a template that can guide you through this planning phase with each piece of content.

A4: To add on to the repurposing conversation, I love templates! I think starting from a template you can easily see where it fits in your repurposing strategy. For example, a listicle blog easily translates to an infographic. #contentchat

— Michaela Mendes (@mmendeswrites) March 8, 2021

Revisit your top-performing content and assess how to refresh or repurpose it for new life. This could include updating statistics, creating accompanying imagery, changing the call to action, and more.

A4: Another idea – revisit your most popular content. Could you republish a blog post with new examples? Could you update stats in an infographic and share that? Get creative. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A4: In addition to what @anngynn said about planning for multi-use content, I also like to make the most of existing content. Look at existing blog posts, videos, infographics and find ways you can refresh and repurpose. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) March 8, 2021

Completely agreed. From video recording customer and SME intake interviews to keeping info repositories with key, cited statistics or having a parking lot document full of fantastic quotes that didn’t make it into other content, there’s a lot you can do! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

The key is to listen to your audience and provide content based on their interests. You may feel that your team has created an abundance of content on a topic, but that topic is still relevant if your audience is interested in it.

A4: Too often, we only think of “new” and yet our audiences don’t remember and haven’t consumed all our existing content. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

Just because we as a marketer may be tired of a topic doesn’t mean our ideal customer has even scratched the surface of it yet! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

It’s one more reason we should interact with our audiences. You’ll be surprised at what they find interesting that you’re so sick of writing about. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

Q5: What other departments or roles should content marketing teams partner with to broaden their impact?

Content marketing teams should partner with public relations/PR, sales, product, human resources/HR, and executive teams. Basically, any team that is customer-facing or can somehow benefit from the use of content.

A5: Depending on the company, the PR and content marketing teams can be extremely helpful to each other. Both are storytellers. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A5: Always connect with the sales team. They can be great resources for understanding prospects and customers’ needs and wants. And if you can help them, they’ll become some of your biggest supporters. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A5: Don’t forget the exec team. Make sure your content marketing always aligns with the business’ operational goals. Otherwise, you may find your budget shrinks – or gets eliminated. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

A5: (If you have these departments) Sales, marketing + digital marketing, PR/Media and customer success/client management. Individuals with client/customer contact can be an amazing content resource. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) March 8, 2021

This is where that executive overview for your content marketing plan that @derekpillie mentioned comes in.

It can also be helpful to call out executive content amplification as one of your tactics, and educate the leadership team on the impact they can have #ContentChat https://t.co/MQnUIZ1MAX

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

A5: I think product is KEY. Getting a sense of the roadmap ahead can help you weave the right narratives, setting your content team up for success later. Another amazing resource is HR. They can surface new ways to encourage employee sharing/content amplification! #contentchat

— Michaela Mendes (@mmendeswrites) March 8, 2021

I’ve seen great success with implementing social media training as part of new hire onboarding. It allows you to activate new employees and add them to your advocacy pool by helping them understand your social objectives and where they can fit in. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

Q6: Where can content marketers seek help when their internal team lacks necessary expertise?

There are plenty of ways marketers can learn new skills and stay ahead of the latest marketing best practices.

A6: A great thing about today’s world is the wealth of learning resources available in all sorts of formats. It could be one-on-one or small group training for a specific skill or skillset. It could be an industry educational event, a formal course or a blog. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

Sign up for newsletters from top marketers to see what they’re prioritizing. Unsubscribe if you do not get value from the newsletter (otherwise your inbox will be overrun with low-value content).

A6: Price points work too. From free newsletters and blogs to specialized coaching, there’s a way to expand your content marketing skills no matter your budget. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

Join Twitter Chats on a variety of topics (#TwitterSmarter, #Digital360Chat, and #AgencyChat are just a few starters).

A6: Twitter can be great for things like this #ContentChat or to hear from @dshiao and his B2B content newsletter. Other entities devoted to marketing education like @CMIContent (I’m biased, #client) and @MarketingProfs. So many + industry-specific resources too. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

Join Slack groups.

A6: I love Twitter for this! I’m also a part of @jimmy_daly’s great Slack group Superpath which I’ve used to source ideas/answers to content marketing questions often. #contentchat

— Michaela Mendes (@mmendeswrites) March 8, 2021

MarketingProfs PRO is well worth the investment.

A6: I have been a @MProfsPRO member for a very long time and highly recommend it. I’ve also benefitted a ton from the resources that are part of my @foodbloggerpro membership. #ContentChat https://t.co/lxALaziFEA

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

I second the @MProfsPRO resource! #ContentChat https://t.co/8BWLIQdNJD

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) March 8, 2021

Clubhouse is still new but promising for marketers.

A6 I can’t speak for myself but listening in on some clubhouse chats I’ve found some of the marketing-specific topic rooms are really helpful for people with questions outside their expertise. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) March 8, 2021

And turn to your online communities for help.

A6b: When I need freelance project help, I typically reach out to my personal network on LinkedIn or via Slack, including the @CMIContent and @SpinSucks communities. I am also a member of a few Facebook freelancer groups. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Founder @ErikaHeald (@SFerika) March 8, 2021

A6: The key is to know you don’t know — and that is hard. Getting input from people outside your organization can be helpful to the process. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) March 8, 2021

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