By Deborah Holstein published March 31, 2017

6 Ways to Energize Your Content Marketing Team (and Your Content)

energize-content-marketing-team-content

Nearly half of B2C businesses have small content marketing teams supporting the organization. Yet, 73% of businesses will produce more original content in the coming year, which means content teams will spend more time keeping the engine running with little time or headspace for innovation.

While boosting the size of your team might seem like an obvious solution, it’s expensive. If you really want to improve your team’s ability to produce quality content, you better protect their opportunity for creativity.

Here are six ways to help your team create more amazing content and improve your content marketing program in unexpected ways.

1. Aim for more creative, less standardized process

Adobe’s State of Create 2016 survey confirms that 73% of workers today feel increasing pressure to be productive versus being creative at work. Of course, there are always deadlines to meet, but if your team members don’t have space to think, experience diversity of thought, or have the ability to engage in new experiences, their creativity will suffer.

A recent study showed that unfamiliar experiences can contribute to a 50% increase in creativity. Even small changes in one’s environment can provide a boost including lowering the lights, adding some ambient noise, or even just taking a walk. As the leader, you want your team knowing they have the freedom to do what’s needed to conjure their muse. Remember, your team will follow your lead, so show them how you change your environment to fan your own creativity.

Boost your content team’s creativity: Lower the lights. Add ambient noise. Take a walk, says @dholstein. Click To Tweet

2. Encourage more risk-taking

When you’re focused on getting the next piece of content to market by deadline, it’s easy to shy away from trying new things. Untested ideas carry the risk of your team not hitting goals, so it feels safer to go with the tried and trusted. Yet, churning out the same-old, same-old does not fuel your creative team.

Adobe’s Kickbox project is one great example to spur innovation. Adobe employees with an idea can take a bright red box with curriculum for a six-step process, from ideation to small-scale test, Post-It note pads, pens, a Starbucks gift card, and a $1,000 prepaid credit card. One of the experimentation projects led Adobe to an $800 million acquisition of online photo-and-graphics marketplace Fotolia.

Most of us can’t go that big because of budget constraints, but remember that it costs nothing to use words that encourage your team to be comfortable thinking outside the box. For example, say  “Yes, and …” instead of “Yes, but…” when brainstorming and see what that simple little word change can do.

3. Be inspired by your vendors

Taking an interest in how your contractors and vendors do things can lead to productivity breakthroughs, as these smaller businesses are more likely to be early adopters of innovative processes and technologies simply because they don’t have people to throw at the problem.

Take an interest in how your vendors do things to discover #productivity breakthroughs, says @dholstein. Click To Tweet

Digital agency Drake Cooper learned this lesson when a freelance photographer introduced the agency’s social media team to a new collaboration tool. Because it improved the process of viewing, commenting on, and approving hundreds of images the photographer was sending, the agency was able to launch new social content for a project in a fraction of the time. The tool was so helpful that the agency quickly rolled it out for other projects and clients.

4. Focus on telling great stories

When creating content, it’s easy to get bogged down by the supposed rules and best practices of a specific format or media type. No doubt there are benefits to knowing that 30 seconds is the optimal length for a social video. but your focus should be on telling a great story first because that is ultimately what engages people the most.

Within two days of releasing a 93-second YouTube video, Dollar Shave Club generated 12,000 new orders.

And destroying the notion that we all have short attention spans, TED Talk videos run as long as 18 minutes and its subscribed audience is 6.5 million.

Encourage your team to learn and know the best practices, but to feel comfortable breaking the rules in the pursuit of telling an amazing story. Because, who knows, their innovation for your brand may rewrite the rules.

Encourage your team to break the rules in the pursuit of telling an amazing story, says @dholstein. Click To Tweet
HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:
How to Create Super Shareable Video Content

5. Distinguish between discussion and direction

When providing feedback on creative work it’s always good to engage in debate and discussion over the direction and details. In many cases, you might share an opinion but be prepared to leave the final decision to the expert designer, video producer, or writer you’ve empowered to create it (discussion).

That said, be clear when something is not up for discussion (direction). Polycom’s Tim Rose suggests using language like, “This needs to be …” as a way of noting your comment as a directive, not a starting point for a conversation. Transparency and clear communication saves both parties a lot of time and added stress.

6. Review your work in different environments

When creating new content, you probably experience it in the perfect environment. You view images on top-end monitors and listen to the music on high-fidelity speakers. But that’s not how most of your audience will experience what you create. For example, audio engineer Chad Wahlbrink listens to his mixes through an iPhone because that’s how many people will hear the music.

Don’t just review copy in a Google Doc or a Word file. Read the text and view accompanying images on your site. The layout often has a dramatic effect on how and what you want to say.

By following these six tips, you can free your creative teams from the burden of too much process. Encourage them to be bold. Ease the pathway for better collaboration. It’s better than staying safe, and you and the team will help your organization by consistently delivering engaging content that drives business results.

Let your team take their creativity to new places for a fresh perspective. Encourage them to attend Content Marketing World this September in Cleveland, Ohio. Use BLOG100 to save an additional $100. We also offer discounts for teams sending many members. Register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Deborah Holstein

Deborah Holstein has over 15 years in technology marketing leadership roles focused on B2B and B2C SaaS businesses. Currently VP Marketing at Hightail, Deborah has held leadership roles at Yahoo and Cisco as well as launching and growing technology startups including Animoto and Grokker. Skilled in building and leading highly engaged teams, Deborah is an active leadership mentor with Everwise and writes regularly on marketing and leadership topics on Medium, Pulse, MarketingProfs, and Business2Community, as well as her own blog. She holds an M.B.A from New York University in Marketing and Statistics and a B.S. in business from Georgetown University.

Other posts by Deborah Holstein

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