If you’ve read anything about inbound marketing you’ve certainly come across this adage: “You’ve got to think and act like a publisher.” Your response was probably something like, “If I wanted to become a publisher I would have gone into publishing!”
True enough. But inbound marketing is all about putting out information your prospects need as they consider making a purchase – information from basic education in relevant topics to much more in-depth answers to specific questions and challenges they’re facing.
All this information has to be published (in blog form and in content like tip sheets and ebooks) regularly. Just like a publisher.
Once you’ve embraced good content as the best way to attract visitors to your website and demonstrate your value, it’s time to get others in the organization ready (and willing) to pitch in writing. This will be an uphill battle – not only are most people reluctant writers, they don’t believe they have the time to do it.
Here are 4 steps you need to take in order to create a successful publishing culture capable of engaging prospects, building their confidence in your solutions, and getting them to buy:
1) Prepare Your People
Your executive team, in particular, will be more enthusiastic about resources put toward content creation if they more fully understand its potential, so share cold hard facts that demonstrate it. Just for blogging alone there’s a wealth of good information available; here are a few highlights:
This might just be the most important thing you do. Someone has to be in charge of determining topics, maintaining calendars, coordinating writers, and evaluating each piece of content. Ideally this person should 1) have solid writing skills; 2) have the personality necessary to keep everyone on task and on time; and 3) be familiar with the inbound marketing approach and tools. If you don’t have the skills on staff, either hire an inbound agency or hire someone who can fill the position.
Develop a content strategy and editorial calendar
You’ll lose the interest of everyone involved if they don’t know what to write about, or when they’re expected to write it. A content strategy identifies the topics important to your prospects – first in general terms (“efficiency”), then in very specific terms (“17 reasons to use vendor managed inventory programs to consolidate your supplier bases”). The editorial calendar details which specific topics will be written by whom and key dates: draft due, editor review, publish date, etc.
Provide the writers with an editor and review team
Writers will need the “safety net” of both an editor and an internal team that can evaluate each content piece and provide constructive feedback. An editor’sjob is to verify the appropriate subject matter and tone, check spelling and grammar, determine each piece’s relevance to the audience, and evaluate the overall value of the piece, then make recommendations for improvement. Because your editor may not know “everything” there is to know about every facet of your company, a review team, usually made up of representatives from the primary departments in the company, should be set up to give each piece a “once-over” that ensures the accuracy of company facts and figures.
Enlist all the troops
Rather than simply choosing people to write based on what they tell you about their writing abilities, choose based on what they know about your business and your prospects. These departments can be real assets when it comes to creating content:
Sales. Salespeople often know the most about what prospects need, what questions prospects ask (which your content should answer), and what competitors are up to.
Engineering. Engineers know why your company does things they way it does – why, for instance, your lawn mowers’ steel blades go through a special hardening heat treatment step while competitors’ do not.
Marketing. Marketing people know what’s going on in the market, what innovations are being unveiled and what’s next on the horizon
Operations. Operations people can talk in detail about manufacturing processes and how they affect product quality and performance
R&D. As long as they don’t give away any trade secrets or proprietary information, your R&D team can discuss the “how and why” of some of your already-launched innovations
Set up an online resource area
Provide reference materials, inspiration and idea-starters your writers can use to make their jobs a little easier. This could include publications from prospects’ industries and examples of content from others in your industry – anything that gives writers additional information about what prospects are going through so their content can address those challenges.
Provide helpful tips on how to write. Most people don’t believe they can write – or at least write well. But giving every writer simple tips can reduce their anxiety and give them confidence. Here are some of our favorite blogs about blogging:
With a platform like HubSpot you’ll be able to see, in real time, how many visitors your site and blog are getting, what topics generate the most traffic, where visitors are coming from (social media, organic search, etc.), the moment a prospect converts to a lead, what those leads are most interested in, and more. Share these with the executive team and writers so everyone knows how well your collective efforts are performing. Early successes (and if you publish often enough, you’ll have them) create momentum and motivate the team.
Ready to turn your team into a publishing powerhouse? Download our Content Creation Template & Worksheets – you’ll find plenty of simple guidance on how to write everything from a tip sheet to a video script!