By Michele Linn published November 30, 2010

How to Find Internal Allies for Content Marketing

In our ongoing series, we’re helping B2B marketers overcome the challenges highlighted in our recent B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. Most recently, our contributors are providing insights and examples to help you make the case for content marketing in your organization.

Contributors have answered the questions:

This week, our contributors answer the question, “What other areas of the organization can help build loyalty/buy-in to the content marketing program? Who will be your allies outside the marketing department?”


To help gain support for your content marketing program, build a community around content creation. Your greatest allies are your brand ambassadors. Identify colleagues, customers, vendors, and others who speak favorably about your business. Put them in the spotlight. Share their blog posts, photos, videos, tweets. Get people excited about sharing even more about your brand. Then, demonstrate how compelling content motivates people to market for you.

Nothing builds credibility for a marketing program more than a face and a voice saying this is why I value your business.

- Rick Allen (@epublishmedia)


Does your management team think content marketing should remain solely the responsibility of marketing and/or communications? If so, you’re overlooking a significant opportunity to cost-effectively expand and enhance your content marketing offering by employees with domain area expertise. Here are a few of the areas that should be involved in content creation. (Hint: These areas should also be using social media!)

  • Senior management. Provides thought leadership for the industry. Also supports cross-company content marketing initiatives.
  • Product mangement. Understands your offering. Can supply useful information learned during product development that consumers might find useful. Depending on your offering, a related website or blog can house this information. [Check how to use domain names to extend your brand.]
  • Customer service. Knows customers’ concerns and how to answer them. With this knowledge, they can create useful FAQs and how-to content based on how their jobs have evolved with social media.
  • Sales. Like customer service, understands prospects’ concerns and needs. Use this information to develop content your customers want.
  • Human resources. Often overlooked in content marketing, HR ensures that content creation is integrated into appropriate job descriptions. Further, they should develop content related to employee morale, hiring information, and maintaining good relations with former employees.
  • Investor relations. In addition to regulatory requirements, portrays your firm using broad array of media formats to engage investors.

Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that it’s critical to provide editorial assistance to assuage employee concerns about their writing skills.

- Heidi Cohen (@heidicohen)


I have found that the customer service and sales departments benefit greatly from a well executed content marketing strategy.  Content marketing builds prospects and customers that are more loyal and better educated, making life easier for customer service and sales.

- Russ Henneberry(@russhenneberry)


The sales team is critical, of course. But only if you get them involved in the content marketing initiative right from the start —  agreeing goals and defining what a ‘sales-ready’ lead is.

The product experts ought to be allies too. Done right, content marketing is their voice to the world.

Doug Kessler (@dougkessler)


Great content benefits an entire organization because it answers customers questions.  Engage with anyone who deals with the end user or customer. Ask them how developing better relationships through content could help them get their jobs done more effectively.  Maybe even recruit them to do a series of blog posts, or answer FAQs. There’s no end to who can be your allies if you think about how answering your customers’ questions benefits everyone.

Ahava Leibtag (@ahaval)


You’ll find overlooked allies in the art department. For years art departments have suffered creating bland, one-size-fits-all content. The opportunity to create a very specific, narrowly consumed design is exhilarating. You don’t have to worry what grandmothers think if they’re not your target audience.

Katie McCaskey (@KatieMcCaskey)


Your natural allies are going to be found in the sales department since they are the biggest beneficiaries. Every employee in your organization can contribute to the success of a content marketing program.

I read an article in Search Engine Journal by Mark Thompson titled, 10 Ways All Employees Can Contribute to Link Building, and I couldn’t help but think the same is true of content marketing. The best content marketing happens at the grass roots level, inspired employees and customers sharing information about your company. Letting employees actively participate in a content marketing program creates a lot of internal goodwill for the program.

Sarah Mitchell (@globalcopywrite)


One of the most important, but often forgotten consumers of content marketing programs are sales professionals.

In many organizations, Sales and Channel Enablement groups are responsible for leveraging and building best practices so that sales professionals are aware of available content and how to use it effectively in the sales process. Engaging early and often with these groups can help assure that the content is used to best effect by sales professionals when engaging with clients, yielding dramatically expanded content adoption, use and measurable impact on sales cycle and deal flow.

However, research indicates that sales is not always using the content to best effect. According to the American Marketing Association:

  • 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales
  • Salespeople spend 30 hours a month searching for and creating their own selling materials;

Not only is sales efficiency an issue when it comes to content usage, effectiveness is not all it can be either. IDC reveals in a recent survey that, buyers are not satisfied with the value sales professionals are delivering to engagements. In a recent survey, 24% of buyers indicated that the sales reps are not prepared for presentations at all, 30% indicate that they are somewhat prepared , and only 29% indicate that they are well prepared. The lack of preparation has been directly shown to drive inefficient conversion, longer sales cycles, more discounting, and higher competitive losses.

According to SiriusDecisions, the average company invests over $43K in marketing per salesperson, an estimated 3%-7% of the opportunity value of the sales pipeline. From the research however, content marketers are clearly not getting an adequate return on investment from most sales and channel organizations. Buy-in from these important groups can help drive adoption of content, key improvements in customer engagements, reductions in sales cycles and improved deal flow helping to bolster the case for more content marketing investments.

- Tom Pisello (@tpisello)


Everyone in an organization can play a role in the adoption and success of a content marketing program. In today’s organizations, many team members throughout the company have access to and are often engaged in activity via social media sites and online in general. Their buy- in and desire for the objectives to be achieved is invaluable. Outside of the traditional marketing department, I find it helpful to consult with as many of the decision makers and stakeholders in an organization as possible, from the CEO and the Information Architect all the way through the services or fulfillment departments.  Everyone can make a difference.

Elise Redlin-Cook (@redlincook)


I think that a true content marketing program spans departments.  There’s a lot of cases where some of the best content providers come from the ranks of technology or operations.  Early on, Dell was an example of this in terms of individuals inside the organization using blogs and Twitter to answer customer questions and provide support.  Sales, customer service and the customer experience department should, in my mind, be heavily involved in not only the production of content, but it tapping the customer audiences to find out what content is most important to them.  Those closest to your customers need to have a voice online so that a community can be built.

Nate Riggs (@nateriggs)


Marketers can find valuable champions for their initiatives within the sales enablement department, the sales team, and the teleprospecting/inside sales group. Because content largely takes the place of interactions that prospects would be having with sales reps, the sales enablement group is quick to see the value of content marketing in bridging the gap between marketing and sales. In addition, sales reps and managers are starting to realize that prospects don’t want to speak with the sales group until late in the buying cycle, making them logical advocates for content marketing efforts. Finally, your teleprospecting/inside sales team will likely be the first ones in your organization to interact directly with prospects, and they need content to educate and nurture prospects.

Stephanie Tilton (@stephanietilton)


I believe that all areas of the organization – and particularly customer facing roles – can help build loyalty and buy-in to content marketing programs. Here’s what’s so wonderful about involving those other departments: they have perspectives on the customer experience with your product or service that often go ignored. But, if you pay attention to what they’ve observed, you may come across invaluable insights. At the same time, you develop internal advocates who see direct benefit from the content they help create to address customer issues.

In my previous life as a corporate marketer, I brought our warranty claims manager into my content creation process. I created an ongoing blog series for her on The Carpetology Blog called Annette’s Carpet Corner to address common consumer concerns with carpet care. Together we developed new consumer reference sheets to help facilitate and guide the carpet purchase process as well as the warranty process. We even created a video on the proper technique for removing carpet stains that I recommend to everyone!

CB Whittemore (@cbwhittemore)

Summary

Many of our contributors provided insights into who you can work with inside of your organization to develop content. As a few of our contributors suggest, people all throughout your organization can help. But, there are a few groups that may be the most helpful:

  • People who interact with customers (sales, customer services, teleprospecting) can provide insights into what matters to your core audience. And, by getting them excited about content, they will more likely share it with these groups as well.
  • Product/service experts are natural allies because you can tap them for the knowledge needed to make your content sing.

And here are some groups you may not initially think to involve:

  • The art department
  • Technology and operations departments
  • Human resources
  • Information architects
  • Investor relations

As Sarah Mitchell suggests, content marketing is sometimes a grass-roots effort, and the more people you can get excited about this, the more momentum you will build.

From your experience, who do you think makes the best ally to help support your content marketing efforts?

If you are interested in learning how to educate and justify the importance of content marketing, stay tuned to our posts on Tuesdays. Even better, sign up so to get all of our content marketing how-to articles.

Other posts in this series:

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute and a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B Marketing.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • http://twitter.com/andreabierly Andrea L. Bierly

    Not only do I think that sales and customer service can add a great deal to a content marketing strategy, I also think its crucial that these roles know and understand the information that is presented to prospects and clients. If you don’t use these roles to contribute, you should allow them first look at your content.

    They are on the front lines and it looks bad for a company if a client or prospect references information they received from your site, email or blog and the sales or customer service rep freezes like a deer in headlights because this is the first they’re hearing of it.