Secrets behind building a world-class content marketing team

Rajan Srinivasan, CEO & Founder, Scatter
Rajan Srinivasan, CEO & Founder, Scatter

Rajan Srinivasan, CEO & Founder, Scatter writes about marketers who are planning to beef up their content marketing teams

Looking for a versatile writer who owns content and has what it takes to lead a team of writers and editors. Sounds familiar, right? This and a few other traits are on the wish list of every marketer looking to hire a content resource for their budding content marketing ecosystem.

In fact, I’m yet to meet a CMO who isn’t looking to hire a content resource for their marketing team. Are you one of them? Are you looking to replace someone who is moving out, or are you building a content marketing team from scratch? Well, grab a cup of coffee and read on because I’m going to share some secrets on building a world-class content marketing team. And these real-world learnings are from my experiences while building India’s first and largest content marketing practice – Scatter.

One month into the ongoing lockdown, I was talking to a couple of marketers from within the same organization. One was the marketing head and the other her deputy. They were looking to hire a content marketing resource and wanted to know if I could recommend a suitable person for the role.  This would have been the first hire for their fledgling team. Curious, I asked the marketing head what her expectation was from the person she sought to hire. Her take:  someone with  a few years of experience, could write community content, emailers, blogs, website content and, work with internal teams and her content agency. The key asks: she wanted a writer more than anything else.

Next day, I spoke to her deputy about the potential hire, and guess what. He had a completely different take. He was looking for someone who could build a content approach and writing was just half the job.

A single role, yet the expectations from both people on the marketing team were so different. I could see them looking to replace this person within a few months of joining. Why you ask?

Given the recent crisis that has engulfed all of us, content marketing has become even more central to marketing teams. Investment in content marketing activities and content marketing teams are sure to deliver a bigger bang for the buck. As a marketer, I’m sure you know this. Therefore, you may be tempted to fill that content marketing role and fast. Read on to understand why you need to be strategic in your hire and desist the temptation of a quick hire.

A writer is not a strategist: Always remember there is a difference between a writer (content creator) and a thinker (content strategist). That is not to say writers can’t think but they are not the best-suited for crafting strategy. Their gift is unique; it is their storytelling abilities. So first off decide whether you need a content writer or a content strategist.

Grey hairs matter: There is something to be said for experience. If this is your first hire in content creation, stay away from hiring someone with a few years of experience. My suggestion: Hire an editor more than a writer, especially if your organization has already begun creating content with external partners. Why? Because an editor can help the marketing team manage and supervise content production, direct a writer or writers’ collective and ensure a that the brand’s business objectives are well woven into content. Hiring an editor also works if you already have an inhouse team of writers and are looking at upping the ante on your content marketing quality. “Even the best writer shouldn’t edit their own work,” someone famously said.

Creative burnout is real: Understand creative fatigue and you will avoid content creator burnout and attrition. I realise as a marketing team you are feeding multiple platforms with multiple content formats and you still have so much to say. But remember if you don’t back the first hire with another content marketing hire within 6 months, you are likely to go back to square one. You will post job ads having to build your team from scratch, yet again. The marketing head and the deputy I spoke to had unwittingly charted a clear path to potential employee burnout and mutual disappointment. Make sure you go for quality over quantity in content creation. Good content takes time and effort to create and be respectful of that.

Build a team: I always tell my clients that they need to build a content marketing team. It could be a team of writers and editors. It could be a mix of creators and strategists. But it’s got to go beyond one person even if you happen to work with several freelancers or content creating companies. Like one swallow doesn’t make a spring, one content marketing hire doesn’t make content marketing success. Build this team fast and brace yourself for the great results content marketing success brings along.

Think before hiring: If you run a search on building a content marketing team, most U.S. organizations will suggest hiring people from a journalistic background as a content writer or editor. Most blogs are three to five years old when we didn’t have as many professional content marketing writers and editors. My personal experience in India has been the contrary. Some very senior journalists in India themselves have warned against getting their ilk on board. I did not agree and am four times bitten and eight times shy. Today, though the demand for content marketing writers/editors is still high, the supply-demand gap has narrowed. I think, content creation professionals who come from a branded content background fit better than a journalist or a copy writer.

It all comes down to strategy, again: You cannot have a successful content marketing team without having a content strategist on board. They inherently understand what makes content marketing work and stand in between the marketing team and the content creators. They are invaluable when it comes to planning editorial calendars, working stylesheets, documenting a content marketing strategy, and measuring the efficiency of content that has been published by a brand. A good content marketing strategist will audit your content marketing, scan competitive content environment, work closely with SEO teams, and be adept and up-to-date with social and listening tools at the marketing team’s disposal. 

The robust growth of digital marketing has not only made agencies more specialized but also made marketing teams a lot more granular. Most marketing teams have sub-teams that overlap in scope. Result: internal territorial battles over budgets, ideation, success, and laurels.

It is very likely that content marketing teams will soon be the fulcrum of creating better customer experiences and sales. Invest today, both in time and money, to build that powerful content marketing team and see it future proof your organization’s fortunes. Play this on the front foot and you’re certain to hit the ball out of the park.


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