In B2B content marketing the production of sufficient, appealing high quality content has been one of the biggest challenges. Additionally, the best content is in the heads of different employees, and not everyone is keen to start writing blogs, participating in webinars and taking part on social media. Facilitating the organization is of great importance. And when the decision is made to outsource the creation of content, the message and tone of voice need to be on target.
The production of content and the management of a content marketing process requires new skills and competencies from the organization. The content marketing process shares parallels with a publishing company, but most organizations are not (yet) publishers. The different skills are contained in silos. As such, different people or departments are responsible for SEO, PR, social media, product marketing and the customer magazine. This chapter delves into the roles and functions required for content marketing, forming multidisciplinary teams and the question of outsourcing.
Roles and positions in B2B content marketing
The roles that need to be filled in an extensive content marketing organization can be linked to the seven steps of B2B content marketing discussed in this e-book. This paragraph describes the various roles that are assembled based on the setup recommended by the Content Marketing Institute. It’s a vision of the marketing department of 2025.
Each role need not be a position. In practice, various roles will be carried out by one person or undertaken by existing people in other positions. In small organizations, all the roles can be taken on by one content marketer. He or she will never be short on work!
Chief content officer (CCO)
The position of chief content officer has gained ground as a result of strategic choices made by more and more organizations in terms of content marketing. The position is also known as content strategist or VP of content. This is the person who is ultimately responsible for content marketing within the organization.
The responsibilities and roles for the CCO include:
- Drafting a modern content marketing strategy
- Translating the mission and strategy into corporate stories or “the big story”
- Making strategic choices in the concept development, content formats and media channels
- Defining and steering KPIs
- Developing, recruiting, employing and directing the content marketing team
- Ensuring a good technical infrastructure for content marketing
The chief content officer doesn’t create content himself/herself but an affinity with content creation is a must in for the role. Thinking in terms of content or its creation is in this person’s DNA. The CCO is comparable to a publisher. He is the gatekeeper of the corporate story, the ambassador of all the content. The CCO guarantees that locally created content from different silos of the organization is consistent with editorial guidelines and aligned with the audience. Not only does he or she have a pulse on the market but they provide support in the content strategy within the organization.
The managing editor is essentially the editor-in-chief. This person is responsible for the production of the content according to the ideas, editorial guidelines and strategy developed with the CCO. The managing editor is the project manager that, on behalf of the CCO, steers and manages the editorial calendar. He or she directs the content creation team, which can consist of editors, designers and producers. The setup of the team depends on the content formats and the size of the organization. Roles and responsibilities of the managing editor include:
- content production
- content planning
- search engine optimization
- content design and layout
- content presentation
Where the CCO focuses on the strategy, the managing editor deals with the execution. In smaller organizations, the position of managing editor and CCO are generally carried out by the same person.
Content creation team
The managing editors are generally content creators themselves but, depending on the amount of content, the type of content and the format, they will need to involve other people in the process. This can be their own editorial team but valuable contributions generally come from the so-called subject matter experts within the company. These could be consultants, product managers, innovation managers, C-level managers or analysts. These content creators needn’t be born writers; it’s up to the managing editor to translate these stories into content. They have their feet firmly rooted in the organization and can share knowledge, expertise and experience in the most relevant and transparent way via working with ghostwriters, conducting interviews or editing existing pieces.
Content doesn’t merely consist of copy. Depending on the medium and format, content needs to be made as appealing as possible through the design and visuals. For the various formats, this can involve different roles with different purposes, such as:
- Events: conference producer, conference logistics, chairman, program board
- Visual: photographer, designer, illustrator
- Moving media: producer, director, sound technician, camera man, editor, animation designer
- Virtual event: moderator, director, studio technician
The content curator searches online for news, trends and developments that are relevant to the target audience. The curator is generally not a standalone position but a role adopted in the content creation or social media team. Relevant input is brought to their attention via social media channels or from the content creation team. Curation can be used effectively to enrich your own content, remain current and increase cohesion between existing content items.
Chief listening officer (CLO) or social media coordinator
The social media coordinator is the roaming gatekeeper between the (social) media channels and the organization. This person follows and participates in the conversation on social media on behalf of the organization and involves the relevant departments for specific questions and discussion points.
For the content marketing team, this person is an important source for new information regarding what engages the target group so the marketing team can respond accordingly and continue to produce relevant content.
The audience manager is responsible for monitoring and honing in on the target groups, the decision-making units and the buyer personas. The core of content marketing is anticipating demand, questions, needs and dreams of the target audience. So, it’s important to continue to guarantee this and anticipate new triggers in time. The audience manager is closely involved with segmenting and increasing the database.
The investment in high-quality content is big, but small adjustments in the title, management summary or visuals can significantly affect responsiveness. The appeal to share messages via social media can be strongly influenced by adding just the right twist. The first responder puts the content under the microscope before it’s published and optimizes it for maximum effect. A lot of content can be reused in different channels and each channel has its own set of characteristics. The first responder works closely with the channel marketer to optimize content for each channel.
Content reaches a target group via different channels – the owned, earned and paid media. This can include your own online channels, social media, apps, magazine or events. Each channel has its own set of characteristics, content specifications and promotion possibilities. Channels can also differ in the timing of use or popularity among the buyer personas. The channel marketer is responsible for channel optimization.
For stimulating messaging and reach of specific or new target groups, paid media remains an important part of the communication mix. The media buyer/planner is responsible for the purchase and optimization of paid media.
Where the curator is responsible for gathering external content, the syndicator ensures that self-developed content is shared on third-party channels as much as possible. The content syndicator is responsible for generating maximum exposure via earned media by ensuring that what he is sharing is straightforward and appealing. This person can be responsible for a subset of the content or all its assets.
Beside maintaining media contacts, the traditional PR officer increasingly focuses on maintaining contact with influencers. This person takes care of a network of relevant contacts with media, thought leaders, subject matter experts and recognized trendsetters.
The gap between marketing and sales is reduced by organizing a process to transfer marketing-ready leads to the sales team at the right moment. The lead manager is responsible for the qualification and nurturing of the marketing leads and the comprehensive transfer to the sales division.
The analytics expert takes care of substantive reporting of KPIs and interprets the results. This expert keeps a watchful eye on achieving the set objectives and analyses discrepancies.
Supplier relationship manager
Not only will the content production be done by the organization itself but, as content marketing activities grow, outsourcing to third parties will increase. Freelancers can be called upon to write content on specific topics to carry out specialist work, such as the creation of animations. Agencies will also come into play to set up and execute content marketing campaigns or to advise. The supplier relationship manager is responsible for recruiting this network of specialists and forming the organizational processes that require collaboration.
Training and coaching lead
The adoption of content marketing requires the development of new competencies within the whole organization. In-depth expertise of content marketing can be expected from the content marketing team, but the requirements extend further. From subject matter experts to product managers and C-level employees, substantial contribution is expected for content to tell the story and distribute the messages of the organization. And employees can be expected to engage their network via social media and share content in a personal way. But this has to be according to the guidelines of the organization. The training and coaching lead takes care of the development of competencies of the organization.
The employees are the core for every service-providing company and the embodiment of the story and the messaging. And as every employee presents a channel in itself, it’s important in content marketing that the thinking is propagated by the HR organization. The HR liaison takes care of HR policy and the requirement for employees to communicate and behave consistently and transparently within the organization.
Technology plays an increasingly important role in the content marketing process, from online marketing tooling – such as content management systems, email marketing tools or marketing automation software – to various internal systems. The chief technologist is responsible for the technical infrastructure and its development. Internally, the team of the chief technologist can include a webmaster and a software developer who work on customized solutions. Externally, this person also steers the external service providers.
To plug and play with your favorite marketing tools, Manceppo helps out with its easy to use platform.
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It’s often argued that content marketing has come to fruition in the past decade due to the rise of different technologies. The combination of the internet, mobile technology, cloud computing and social media has made it far easier for companies to communicate with their audience like publishers. But the success of content marketing is not due to the rise of internet technology. Its history goes way back, lets look at one example from 1672. In the Dutch Golden Age, just about 70 years after our discovery of New York, the power of B2B content marketing was demonstrated by a Dutch inventor.
Case history study from the Dutch Golden Age
In 1672, Jan van der Heijden and his brother, Nicolaes, improved the fire hose. Until then, rows of people with buckets of water were required for putting out fires. A hose was available, but pumping water wasn’t yet possible. When you tried to pump water, the force of the suction would cause the flexible hose to collapse on itself. The clever Jan and his brother came up with a suction pump with a suction hose reinforced with iron rings. Via a second linen hose, the water is subsequently transported to the hose and driven out of the nozzle via a pressure pump. Now the water would flow continuous and the nozzle could be better aimed at the flames to deal with the fire hazard. Like tech start-ups in Silicon Valley today, the brothers acquired a patent for their design in 1677.
But Jan van der Heijden wasn’t only a mechanical engineer; he was also a painter and clever business man. To introduce his invention to the masses, he used various modern marketing techniques, which brought him huge success. He combined the following formats in his content marketing program:
- White paper – A couple of years after their finding, in 1677, the brothers published a white paper about their invention. In the publication entitled “Message with regard to newly invented and patented fire hoses,” they compared their system with previous systems and demonstrated the functionality based on practical use.
- Book – In 1690, he wrote the standard reference work, “Description of the newly invented and patented firehose,” with his son. In this first book about the fire brigade in the world, he included detailed descriptions of fire hazards and developments in the organization and techniques of firefighting in Amsterdam. In the 21st century, Jan undoubtedly would have published an e-book version as well!
- Visuals – Jan van der Heijden was also an artist and presented his publications with rich print designs and even poems, which enhanced the readability significantly. Using only copy was seen by him as insufficient to engage his audience. His prints were reused well into the 18th century for material covering firefighting.
- Social sharing – Van der Heijden dedicated his book to one of his most important prospects, Nicolaes Witsen, who was mayor of Amsterdam 13 times between 1682 and 1706. The city was impressed and all 60 districts ordered new hoses. The price of a fire hose was 385 guilders; a fire hose on wheels would cost 435 guilders. Jackpot!
- Demos – “The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” Jan must have thought. He organized demonstrations at the Royal Palace on Dam Square and at the Westertoren.
- Consultative selling – Consultants know better than anyone that advising prospects can lead to the sale of new services and products. Based on his advice, Van der Heijden was asked to set up the volunteer fire brigade in Amsterdam. Each district had a chief, members and volunteers on hand to put out fires in an emergency. At the helm of this city-wide organization stood the fire department general: Jan van der Heijden himself. Conflict of interest?
The commercial success of Jan van der Heijden was unprecedented. Not only did the city of Amsterdam place a mega order, other municipalities got in on the act. Then the first stock listed and largest multinational in the world, the VOC (the Dutch East India Company), installed the fire hose on all its ships. In 1697, Jan van der Heijden even got a visit from Peter the Great. The Russian tsar wanted to lure him to Russia to organize the fire departments there.
Those who think the fire hose was a one-off for Jan van der Heijden’s content marketing strategy are mistaken. After his fire hose invention he developed the first street lighting and presented a lighting plan to the City of Amsterdam that would provide well over 2,500 oil-based lights. He was also the inventor, and the supplier, of these lanterns. This plan was also implemented. The crowning glory to his work was that he was named Director and Superintendent of City Lighting, for which he received an annual fee of 2,000 guilders (which would now be over $25,000).
To be effective and consistent, your Modern Marketing activitities should be inline with your companies strategic direction, based on a clear vision and mission. A vision illustrates what the company aims to be. Subsequently, the mission defines the raison d’étre and the identity of the organization. This explains the existence of the organization, who they are and what they believe in.
In his book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek captivatingly explains the importance of a mission statement. He comes to the conclusion that the most successful organizations adopt a reverse control model, with regard to what is the norm. That model is brilliantly straightforward and works as follows. Decisions, taking action and communicating in successful organizations is all based on the right of existence (raison d’étre), in other words why they exist, and then defines how they fulfill this position. This how subsequently determines what the activities will be, as indicated in the figure above.
Most executive boards, managers and employees would argue otherwise. Every company, business unit, or department can explain what they do. Some can even say how they do this. But only a few will be able to perfectly explain why. We aren’t referring of course to making profit, products or services. At best this defines the how.
The part of our brain that takes care of our emotions knows no languages. This is putting into words the reason why, which is so difficult. This is why it’s difficult to explain the actual reasons for why we love someone, so we tend to rationalize these reasons. But we do know it ‘feels good’. The power this has can therefore, according to Simon Sinek, be traced back to the fact that the limbic system in our brain deals with the why-level: a group of structures in the brain that concerns itself with emotion, motivation, enjoyment and the emotional memory.
Rationale or emotional decisions?
For a long time, the starting point in B2B marketing was that decisions were made, in large, rationally. Anticipating emotion was exclusive territory for the B2C marketers. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that emotion also plays an important role in B2B. Emotion and rationale are two power fields that, together – sometimes in agreement but sometimes conflicting – come to a decision. It’s not one or the other, black or white, but more of a gray area.
It’s interesting, here, to gain insight into the development of the human brain. The oldest part of the brain is also known as the ‘reptilian brain’, which determines our instinct. It’s the automatic pilot that keeps you out of harm’s way. Subsequently in our evolution, the limbic brain developed itself, responsible for our emotions. It determines what we like, who we love, but also our dislikes or the things that make us aggressive. What separates human beings from other creatures, is the neocortex. This is the most modern part of the brain, home to the intellect. This is what enables us to consider rational decisions.
Related to the model of Simon Sinek, there is a logical co-relation between the ‘why’ and the limbic brain.
Via the corporate identity, the organization subsequently communicates its identity. Corporate identity is broader and farther reaching than a number of house style elements. It’s a combination of:
- behavior: shaped by company culture, based on the norms and values within the organization;
- design: the consistent use of certain visual trademarks, such as company logo, use of color and style elements;
- communication: the communicative output towards different stakeholders, such as investor relations, PR and marketing campaigns.
The corporate identity provides valuable guidelines for the content of the content marketing message, as well as the tone of voice and visual appearance. Particular value for content marketing can include the development of an editorial body, or team. This term, common in the publishing business, offers a reference point, and direction, for the editorial elbow space of the content marketing initiatives. The editorial body sets out the goals, the principles and the starting points for communicating.
For content marketers, aside from the existence of a living ‘corporate story’, it can provide grip for initiatives and campaigns. The corporate story is a tale (or a series of stories) that connects the vision and the mission to the positioning of the organization in the market and the society. It’s used as a strategic compass and aimed at all stakeholders, including employees, customers and shareholders.
Modern marketing strategy
So the message and the stories contained within the modern marketing activities of the organization must be consistent with the mission, vision and strategy of the organization. By sharing relevant knowledge, expertise and experience, in an authentic way, confidence and trust is created. Authentic communication is thereby guaranteed, and this is reinforced by communicating from the why-level. Not only should the content be in line with the strategy, defining the marketing strategy must be compatible. Strategic choices in content marketing include the following:
- The measure to which content marketing is to be implemented relative to other marketing methods, such as sales promotion, brand advertising, cold calling, sponsorship and direct marketing.
- The objectives of content marketing in terms of lead generation, conversion, thought leadership, brand experience, brand recognition and loyalty.
- The product-market combinations the content marketing will be geared towards.
- The people and the tools to strategically design the content marketing activities.
- The commitment and acceptance of the content marketing strategy within the management of the organization.