Know your audience. Set goals. Develop a strategy. Create content. Optimize for SEO. Distribute. Measure. Adjust.
Yup, that’s the traditional content marketing process in a nutshell.
While this process remains relevant to this day, evolving customer expectations warrant an approach that extends beyond the four walls of conventional content marketing. Consumers want authentic and personalized experiences, and enlisting the help of employees from various departments can inject a new level of vitality into your content.
In this guide, we look at:
- The benefits of involving non-marketers in the content creation process
- How to encourage them to participate
- How to overcome cross-departmental collaboration challenges
- Examples of content collaboration successes
The Untapped Potential of Non-Marketers
You’ve heard of writer’s block. You may have seen movies where the protagonist is an expert at something — say, forensic accounting. Then, one day, for some inexplicable reason, they just can’t figure things out. So they take a walk. Or ride the bus home.
And suddenly, a random conversation between two strangers sparks an idea — a lightbulb moment, so to speak. They hurriedly get off the bus and run to the nearest computer shop. Or, in the case of the forensic accountant, take a cab back to the office.
The words start to flow. The numbers start making sense.
Cute story, yeah?
Looking outside the marketing department
Similarly, individuals outside the marketing department — e.g., industry specialists, customer support representatives, product designers, HR professionals, etc. — could just be the lightbulb igniters your content strategy needs.
- Targeted expertise: Subject matter experts bring a depth of expertise and first-hand knowledge that’s necessary to ensure your content is factually accurate, in-depth, credible, and conforms with standards.
- Fresh perspectives: Non-marketers may have unique viewpoints that break away from conventional marketing thinking.
- Relatability: Content contributed by non-marketers often touches on the pain points and aspirations of your target audience.
- Diverse representation: Including individuals from various departments promotes diversity in content. This means capturing a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and voices.
- Consumer-centricity: Customer service employees offer valuable insights into the behavior and preferences of your customers, making way for content that’s more aligned with their needs.
- Innovation and creativity: People who approach obstacles differently can ignite creativity. They may introduce unique ideas that can differentiate your brand from competitors.
- Comprehensive storytelling: Perspectives that cover various aspects of your products, services, and people allow for a richer, more complete narrative of your brand.
Ultimately, bringing in non-marketers to help with content marketing is primarily about recognizing the value of diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise. This enriches the creative process, enhances messaging authenticity, and paves the way for more impactful marketing campaigns.
Strategies for Involving Non-Marketers in Content Creation
But how exactly do you encourage non-marketers to participate in your content endeavors?
Here are some tips:
Identify potential contributors
It can be tempting to involve just about anyone, but it pays to be strategic. To identify potential contributors, consider the following:
- Internal expertise: Look for employees with specialized knowledge. For example, if you’re a tech company, encourage engineers, software developers, or data scientists to share their insights.
- Customer-facing experience: Reach out to colleagues in sales, customer support, or R&D. Their interactions with customers can offer valuable content ideas.
- Employee advocacy programs: Create an employee advocacy program that encourages employees to contribute content on topics they care about. Make sure to recognize and reward their efforts as a form of appreciation.
Create a collaborative environment
Great ideas come from collaboration, and collaboration thrives on trust, which unfortunately doesn’t happen automatically. To foster a culture of collaboration:
- Encourage open discussions: Use tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or internal forums so contributors can share ideas, ask questions, and provide feedback.
- Conduct inter-departmental workshops or brainstorming sessions: Workshops provide an opportunity for content teams to understand the organization’s challenges more holistically. Meanwhile, brainstorming sessions enable participants from different departments to explore unique, creative solutions to those challenges.
- Recognize and reward contributions: Establish an awards program that recognizes outstanding contributions, such as “Best New Contributor” or “Most Viewed Employee-Generated Content.”
Provide training support and resources
For collaborators to take a more proactive and informed role in the content process:
- Offer content creation training: Offer training sessions on content creation, such as writing tips, graphic design, or video production. This provides non-marketers with the requisite skills to more effectively contribute.
- Provide access to tools and platforms: Provide access to content creation tools — for example, graphic design tools for creating visual content or blogging platforms for written contributions.
- Initiate mentorship programs: Establish a mentorship program that pairs non-marketers with experienced content creators. This way, seasoned creators can transfer their knowledge, and non-marketers can develop their skills.
Overcoming Cross-Departmental Collaboration Challenges
Some departments operate in silos, focusing on their own goals and priorities. Others may not be aware of the skills and expertise available outside their circle. Some are simply resistant to change (collaboration requires a mindset and culture shift).
Examples of collaboration challenges you may encounter and what to do:
- Specialized jargon: Implement communication training, establish communication channels, and leverage collaboration tools.
- Differing priorities: Conduct regular meetings to align the different departments on goals, priorities, and timelines.
- Resistance to change: Some employees may hesitate to venture outside their usual departmental boundaries. Help them understand the benefits of collaboration by showcasing success stories and recognizing/rewarding collaboration efforts.
Balancing expertise and creativity
Subject matter expertise ensures your content is informative, precise, and aligns with industry standards. Creativity, on the other hand, is essential for creating engaging, appealing content. You want to capture the audience’s attention and keep them interested.
To balance expertise and creativity:
- Set clear guidelines: Provide a brief that details the content’s goals while allowing room for creativity.
- Facilitate ideation sessions: Involve non-marketers in collaborative sessions to tap into their experiences and perspectives.
- Establish feedback loops: Review content drafts together and communicate feedback on improving them.
Measuring success and feedback
Now that cross-departmental collaboration is happening, it’s time to measure its effectiveness — in terms of content impact and the quality of the collaboration. This not only gauges the content’s results but also the level of communication and mutual support among the different team members.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs): Metrics must align with overall business goals. If the aim is to improve content reach, track metrics related to website traffic (total visits, unique visitors, pageviews), social media engagement (likes, shares, comments, click-through rates), organic search, and referral traffic.
- Feedback surveys: Solicit feedback from cross-departmental project team members (non-marketers and marketers alike) to gather insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the collaboration process.
- Post-project evaluations: The goal is to measure the collaboration’s impact on the project’s success. Evaluate non-marketer contributions to identify lessons learned for future collaborations.
Examples of Cross-Departmental Collaboration Successes
To help you visualize how non-marketers can help invigorate your content creation strategy, take a look at these success stories:
- Google Doodles: A collaboration involving artists, engineers, and marketers, Google Doodles celebrate well-known events, holidays, and historical figures through creative illustrations and animations. Today, they’re a globally recognized form of creative content.
- Microsoft’s Story Labs: Story Labs brings together employees from Microsoft’s various departments to share interesting stories, people, and ideas through best-in-class storytelling (think animated guide to decarbonization, a 3D tour through a Microsoft data center, an engaging long-form article detailing what the Microsoft Garage is all about, etc.). The goal? To humanize technology.
- HubSpot’s The Growth Show Podcast: A collaboration involving HubSpot’s marketing and sales teams, The Growth Show podcast features insights on business growth, sales, and marketing strategies from various guests, including industry thought leaders, experts, and professionals from different domains.
- IBM’s “Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson”: This project combined the expertise of IBM’s artificial intelligence researchers and culinary teams. The idea is to help users create unique recipes, whether they’re a chef or a busy professional looking to try something new. The collaborators even published a recipe book.
Elevate Your Content Creation Beyond the Conventional
Standing out in the crowded marketplace takes thinking outside of the box. By expanding your content collaborations to include teams like customer support, sales, and R&D, you’ll tap into the broader pool of diverse expertise and perspectives within your organization. That cross-departmental collaboration will help you develop more impactful narratives in your content that resonate with your target audience.
If you need support unlocking that type of collaboration, ClearVoice has you covered. Connect with a content specialist today to see how we can help.