These days, the term “content marketing” gets batted around pretty loosely. It’s a buzzword. And, much like last year’s “social media” love affair, the buzzword brings along with it an entire bandwagon of folks who now call themselves “content marketing specialists”.
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m on that bandwagon and I’m proud to call myself a content marketing specialist as well. I don’t think most of those folks are simply riding the wave the way so many social media “experts” did last year.
But, I think some of them are doing just that.
The other day, I answered a question on LinkedIn that got me thinking. The question referenced a blog post by Nathaniel Bertram at NewsReach called Has SEO Lost its Meaning? Nathaniel brought it to LinkedIn asking my Content Strategy group “What do you call yourself? SEO? Content Strategist? Content Marketer?”
My initial response pointed out that I feel the need to differentiate myself from SEO specialists because some potential clients still have the old-school view of SEO: keyword-stuffing junk articles with content mill mentality. Basically, quantity over quality.
Also, I’m not really an expert on the nitty-gritty of SEO, especially on the coding side: meta tags and whatnot.
So, although what I do as a content marketing specialist involves a lot of SEO-based work, my main bread and butter is creating valuable content that is designed to appeal to people not just Google. But, it’s important to appeal to Google too, so I do my best to make that happen.
If you read the ensuing conversation, you’ll see that my view sparked some controversy which I felt the need to squelch. But it brought up another interesting question I wanted to broach here:
What Are You Looking For in a Content Marketing Specialist?
In other words, if you’re a potential client of mine, what do you expect to get out our relationship?
It’s important to consider because, like I said, there are plenty of folks out there, myself included, who can rightfully slap the “content marketing specialist” label on their forehead, and a few who really can’t but do any way. All of us have a different set of skills, though. Different strengths and weaknesses.
And if you’re going to pay someone your hard-earned cash, I think it’s important you understand what you’re paying for.
So, here’s a quick list of what basic qualities you should be able to expect from a legitimate content marketing specialist, and my opinion on which are most important under most circumstances. Keep in mind, though, that it’s just my own opinion, colored by my own personal strengths and abilities. (So if they sound good to you, give me a call and we can get some work done! )
This should go without saying, but it doesn’t.
Content marketing is, in fact, marketing. There are no two ways about it. Therefore, someone who claims to specialize in content marketing needs to have a solid understanding of how to market a product or service to today’s savvy consumer or B2B buyer.
And it helps if their knowledge extends beyond just marketing with content. Backgrounds in sales, customer service, telemarketing, direct mail copywriting, public relations – or any number of other disciplines that hinge on convincing customers to part with their money and smile about it – can add depth, power and texture to the content they create.
Make sure your content marketing specialist is, first and foremost, a marketing specialist.
Excellent Writing Skills
For obvious reasons, anyone who claims to specialize in marketing with content needs to be able to strings words together in a coherent and persuasive way. They also need to be able to accomplish this in many and varied media: short articles, long articles, blogs of all tones and voices, white papers, e-books, audio, video… the list goes on.
Plus, to make things work over the long term, this person needs to be able to write in your voice. Or at least create a believable voice for you that you’re willing and able to stick with.
All the marketing know-how in the world can’t make someone a content marketing specialist if they can’t translate it into killer content.
A Customer-focused Mentality
This quality has two equally-important aspects:
- They’re focused on your customer‘s needs, desires, pains and pleasures.
- They’re also focused on YOU as their customer.
First, anyone marketing with content has to realize that the customer (the target audience their client is hoping to reach with their content) has to dictate the message they write. Every single decision about content needs to start with the question, “what do we need to do for the customer?”
But taking care of YOU is equally important. You are the reason we are able to do what we love for a fair wage. You have the business acumen and foresight to realize the power of well-written content and the wisdom to call in an expert to help you out.
The least we can do is make sure you’re thrilled with the outcome.
The End Result
So, when you find that gem of a specialist who offers this trifecta of content marketing prowess, you’re going to have a killer combination working for you.
This person should be able to talk you through a strategy that will take you from so bland to solid brand in no time. They can suggest improvements to your website, your print materials, your public speaking campaign – any and all points of contact between you and your audience.
And what’s more, they can help you execute this strategy with laser precision: writing the content, facilitating distribution, re-purposing what they create, helping you build an ever-growing wealth of reputation- and revenue-building information that will continue working for you 24/7/365.
And there’s no way to put an actual price tag on that kind of power.
But we do.
And if you happen to choose me, I can guarantee you it’s a reasonable one.
- Content Marketing for Professional Services: Does It Cannibalize Your Business? (contentmarketinginstitute.com)
- 100 Inspirational, Educational, and Just-Plain-Cool Content Marketing Examples (contentmarketinginstitute.com)
- Why is an online content marketing strategy important? (marketing.yell.com)