Customers with a great content marketing strategy are not great by accident. To the less experienced it might seem like anybody can easily put together and execute a successful content strategy. The truth is, success is more often the result of very specific behaviors and practices.
ClearVoice has worked with hundreds of customers in dozens of different industries. And their success can be attributed to a few practices that we see over and over. These are not necessarily prescriptive. Customers will always need to operate in a way that works for their business. But what follows is a list of behaviors indicative of an organized process.
So, what do these customers do? Well…
How successful marketing teams work with freelance content teams:
1. They establish a singular point of contact.
We work with teams as small as one and as large as 30. No matter how many people are involved in the overall process (ideating, planning, coordinating, editing, approving) not all of those people need to be giving feedback. The more people on your team who you have directly interacting with the freelancer, the more opportunities there can be for confusion and mistakes.
Our most successful customers establish one person to be the main contact for their engagement. That person then coordinates and synthesizes the feedback from all the stakeholders on the project. Then they give clear, linear feedback to us and the freelancer. This prevents conflicting information on next steps, edits, and who to contact for what.
As a content provider, we can help you plan out your entire strategy and execute it in a way that makes you successful, however, we cannot alter your internal communication practices. Making sure those are solid before you begin is crucial.
- Learn about the content creation process.
- Learn how to give writers feedback, with real-life examples.
2. They provide brand guidelines and style guides.
First of all, what are these? They are documents that spell out who your brand is, your voice, the tone, your audience as well as the way you want your words to be treated.
If you’re creating these for the first time, they might seem overwhelming. They might even seem unnecessary. But they are very much the compass for your content as they help determine the direction you need to move. If you choose to forego brand and style guides, you might be able to create content quickly, but it will be the equivalent of trying to get to your destination by walking very fast in a circle.
There is a reason ClearVoice works with our customers to create these documents. Customers that have them end up with better content faster! Writers want instructions, editors want guidelines. The written word can be highly subjective, and unless you have parameters in place to guide your process, you will spend far more time in edits trying to reshape a completed piece. It is easier and quicker to lay out a clear path from the start.
3. They provide an outline for the content and the key takeaways.
Again, this is not always something customers can do on their own. It can be difficult to put into words what you are looking to achieve. But writers will interpret instructions differently. And if all they have to go on is a title, then they might take that in one of any number of different directions. And that might be what you’re looking for. But if it isn’t, giving writers an outline (even a rough one) guides them toward your intended result.
Key takeaways are often the easiest part to start with. Why are you writing this piece to begin with? What do you want readers to do/feel/understand after they finish your piece? If you don’t know the answer then there is no harm in taking some time to think about it. Why? can be a daunting question and one that should never be answered with “Because we just need content.”
Why you need content is the cornerstone of your entire approach.
- Learn how to create content for the customer journey.
- Learn what elements you should include in a creative brief.
4. They set up regular calls, and they never miss them or show up late.
You are busy. You’ve got a million meetings, two million emails, and Slack is always pinging you. Nobody wants another meeting. We get it.
Content requires attention. Customers come to ClearVoice so they don’t have to source the writer, review their material, get them up to speed, etc. We take the friction out of sourcing, onboarding, and managing freelancers. But there is still a feedback process required to make sure deliverables and next steps are always on track.
It might not seem like a big deal missing a meeting here or there, but content is deadline-driven. A missed meeting delays feedback, which means missed deadlines. It is not hard to stay on pace, but it is easy to fall behind.
Content is one of many priorities you will have to juggle. Setting up projects with clear expectations, guidelines, and communication schedules will ensure the process is efficient and effective so your content strategy and your business are successful.