By Michele Linn published May 31, 2012

What Are the Essential Skills For Content Marketing Teams?

This week, we have been sharing some ideas on how to plan your content marketing teams. Yesterday, I shared ideas on the types of people you need on your content marketing team, and today our CMI consultants talk about what skills are essential. If you are planning your team, this will help you find the right people. If you are a marketer looking to move up the ranks, change positions or find clients, this gives you ideas on what kind of skills you can work on.


That is a rather large question and it depends on the role and the company, but there are certainly some skills they need.Whenever possible you have to find a good communicator. They need to be able to write and speak in a way that makes people feel welcomed and informed. You can always teach someone new technical skills, but it is really hard to teach this. A person either has it or they don’t. I also think they should look for people who love to create. I don’t care what medium they create in, but by having the desire to create and share in their blood, it means they will do well. This is why writers, photographers and theater people are great because they love being creative.

Finally, and most importantly, I believe that they’ve got to have good all around business skills. Understanding how a company works, and what different departments do, is critical for long-term success. Plus, then they won’t go off only focusing on the creative and are usually grounded enough to balance it out appropriately.

C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman)


The biggest thing I suggest when clients are looking to hire for their content marketing team is versatility. The ideal hire needs to be well-versed in what makes for good content, have some writing skills, have some editing skills, manage an editorial calendar, and contribute to content strategy. Finding all that in one person can be a real challenge, and many clients end up prioritizing certain pieces over others. The key for many, then, is to have one person that can be centrally leading and accountable for the company content marketing program. Mike Sweeney made some great points about this in his post, 4 Reasons to Centralize Your Content Marketing Program – whether internally or externally centralized, you need that leader, internal champion, and accountable person most of all.Will Davis (@willdavis)


Excellent writing skills are a must. Understanding of the various channels and types of content that are possible is almost a requirement as well. Then beyond that, you might want to look for someone who is specialized in one area of content — video production, webinar production, videography or photography, etc.- Jason Falls (@JasonFalls)


Look for a journalist obsessed with serving their community — leaning on them for story feedback, content ideas and subject matter; someone who has excelled covering the field your brand is in. With that you get familiarity with the subject matter in a profound, objective (and hopefully honest) way. Media live and die by their ability to enable audiences, build communities and have those communities speak to each other. Good journalists (and bloggers and writers) deliver audiences (and unique visitors) as part of their job. They do this by going where their audience is and being more interesting than anyone else in the space. And the best ones yield the influence over audiences interested in their niche, and this usually comes from a unique point of view, standing for something and getting their audience onside with that honesty. Now wouldn’t it be wonderful for your brand to wield such profound connection with your customers? Hire someone with the skills above and you’ll be on your way.- Tom Gierasimczuk (@gierasimczuk)


First, companies need content marketers who understand why the bigger story matters and how to discover, articulate and communicate it. Content without context is a waste of time; it’s critical to have this overarching perspective before taking any next steps.Second, content marketers need to think like investigative reporters, always looking beyond the obvious and continually asking “why.” Internal groups naturally have their agendas for the content they want to produce, but generally the reason they believe is important is a derivative of why something matters to a customer. Content marketers have to be comfortable asking why these reasons matter, and sometimes that takes five to seven iterations of hearing an explanation. “Because we need to generate more revenue through this channel” is not a reason. But helping retail CIOs understand the fundamental shift in buyer behavior is.

Carla Johnson (@CarlaJohnson)


Communication and storytelling skills are critical these days. I would much rather have a group of amazing communicators, who can understand the business, wrap compelling and engaging stories around that business and communicate them brilliantly, than someone who can help me grind out an extra percentage point on my calls to action. It’s not that those tasks aren’t important – but they can’t help me differentiate my brand. Great communicators will help me to be different.Robert Rose (@Robert_Rose)


There are two main skills: The need to be solid writers and solid researchers — which is why I’m a big fan of hiring journalist types. Other than that though, you want people that have a very creative mind, that push thought outside of the normal “box” most are encapsulated by, and that are willing to make mistakes in order to achieve big.Marcus Sheridan (@TheSalesLion)


There seems to be a lot of emphasis on writers, editors and to some extent, visual storytellers such as videographers, for content marketing teams. However, in my experience, project managers with backgrounds either in producing broadcast news programming or working as publishers in newspaper or magazine publishing, have skill sets needed to effectively manage content marketing initiatives.Russell Sparkman (@fusionspark)


 

Storytellers. This goes beyond just having good writing skills. You need people who can take the mundane and make it interesting enough for a customer to take action.Michael Weiss (@mikepweiss)


  • The ability to write!
  • The ability to revise. Editing and writing are two different skills. Content marketers need both – and that sometimes means the ability to be ruthless with your own work.
  • A love for research – developing great content requires it.
  • Business acumen – understanding what drives business value is one of the keys to developing relevant customer-oriented B2B content.
  • Digital technology skills and an understanding of the online environment. Publishing to the blog should not require content to wait in an IT queue.
  • Organized, with a passion for meeting deadlines. Content marketing requires consistent, continuous and committed production. It never ends.
  • An idea machine. New topics and approaches will be needed constantly.
  • Multi-tasking capabilities. The roles and requirements expand along with the channels in use.
  • A big-picture thinker. A single content asset is not the point. Creating connected pathways is critical. You need someone who can “see” how all of your content will work together and help create the vision to make that happen in a way that benefits prospects and customers.

Ardath Albee (@ardath421)


Understanding of the company and its products and services is overvalued. Unlike social media roles, where having thorough knowledge of corporate culture and processes is a must, in content marketing roles being able to look at the organization through the eyes of potential customers is a real advantage. Consequently, content marketers can be successfully hired from outside the company in ways that social media personnel typically cannot. Additionally, outstanding writing abilities, some technical and software aptitude, and exceptional organizational skills should be required among content marketers.Also, leadership skills. This is frequently overlooked, but content marketers need to cajole, convince, and coerce others in the organization to create outstanding content. That’s not easy, and content marketers need enough personality and leadership ability to create a “movement” about content in the organization.

Jay Baer (@jaybaer)


Of these skills mentioned, which do you think is most important? What would you add to the list?

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

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  • http://www.writespark.com Janice King

    As a writer myself, I’m very glad to see the strong endorsement of writing skills from every commentator.

    Although it is not a skill, I would add subject knowledge as an important factor for any editing/writing member of the content team. Although a good researcher/writer should be able to learn the basics of any subject quickly, for technology and other complex industries, a writer who has in-depth subject knowledge can produce better content more quickly and without taking up the costly time of subject experts for tutorial-type interviews.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Great addition. Thanks, Janice!