Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t have the necessary budget to hire a full-blown content marketing team staffed with full-time editors, writers, graphic designers, SEO experts, social media managers, and so on. But, they still must do content marketing to compete. That doesn’t mean you need to adopt the “let’s throw something out there and see what sticks” approach. That only leads to an infrequently updated (or abandoned) blog and a few downloadable assets.
Believe it or not, your small (or solo) marketing team can produce relevant, quality content even if you don’t have the megabucks to build your own brand journalism team. The important thing is to start with a focus on the essential functions and scale as you grow.
Depending on your current team’s size or your hiring budget, you can find in-house resources for some of the core content marketing functions. You may even find that other departments can pitch in to help with content efforts. Combine these internal players with a strong agency partner to cover the six functions below to build an SMB content marketing team.
Six Functions for Your SMB Content Marketing Team
Content marketing leadership.
Content marketing leaders ensure that the overall content marketing effort is aligned to and supports business goals. Great content that doesn’t help the business is pointless, right? The content marketing leader fills all the functions of the content marketing effort with good people and ensures that everyone works within deadlines and budget constraints. This manager will also collaborate with those who perform the strategy and editorial roles to develop the content strategy.
Editors keep the bigger picture in mind, evaluate the quality and variety of the work, and make sure the team sticks to the schedule spelled out in the editorial calendar. This kind of guidance helps the team meet high standards and ensures that they’ve optimized their work for online engagement and search engine performance.
Research responsibilities include gathering information about buying personas, studying the market and your competition, looking up and evaluating new keywords, and identifying hot topics that you should cover.
Content creation and production.
This kind of work involves coming up with ideas and finding ways to execute them beautifully. These content creators and producers may be writers, designers, multimedia specialists, etc. You may need to outsource the work to people with more specialized skills, ensuring that your content is stunning and professional.
Distribution and promotion.
If you lose track of distribution, your content will remain offline or unnoticed. Remember to post your content on your site and across a variety of platforms. Come up with creative ways to call attention to it. Consider email, SEO, social media, paid ads, and even offline marketing. Also remember that listening to online conversations is an important key to know how, when, and where to distribute and promote.
Feedback and analyses.
These are ongoing processes. You want to analyze your content’s performance, measure engagement regularly and pay attention to the feedback you receive from multiple sources, including social media chatter and reviews.
The chart below shows you how you can split up these functions between your in-house team, other employees, and a partner agency.
|Marketing Team Members||Other Employees||Agency Partner or Freelancer|
|Leadership||Marketing leader should provide brand leadership.||Agency provides content strategy leadership.|
|Editing||Marketing leader provides the final review for business/ industry appropriateness.||Subject matter experts (SMEs) review for accuracy.||Agency resource edits for grammar, style, and ensures content creation deadlines are met.|
|Research||Marketing resource provides guidance and collaborates with agency partner on research (industry, personas, competition, etc.).||SMEs and other employees may assist with research as needed.||Agency resource conducts research to build personas, studies the competition, helps identify industry trends, etc.|
|Creation & Production||Some content creation may occur in the marketing department if possible.||Employees can help with content idea generation; SMEs provide feedback/interviews to help creators produce content.||Your agency fills skill gaps where needed or takes on most of the content creation and production based on your needs.|
|Distribution & Promotion||Content distribution and promotion tasks may take place internally based on marketing department capabilities/ resources.||Employees who are active on social media may make great employee advocates for your brand. Explore this idea.||Your agency fills skill gaps where needed or may take on the entire distribution and promotion effort. Partners can also help you create an advocacy program and train your employees.|
|Feedback & Analyses||Marketing team members gather data from CRM, sales systems, and other internal platforms.||Agency partners help gather data from Google Analytics, marketing automation, ad platforms, and other solutions to combine with client data for analysis and recommendations.|
A note about the role of marketing technology and your SMB content marketing team
Marketing technology can help you automate or streamline some of the functions mentioned above. For example, Hootsuite can help you automate listening through streams based on keywords, location, etc. (Disclosure: I’m a Hootsuite Ambassador, volunteer position.)
A solution like CoSchedule* can assist you with the social promotion of your blog posts. If you don’t have a technology-savvy team member, be sure your agency partner is familiar with solutions that meet the needs of small and mid-sized marketing organizations. (*Disclosure: that’s my referral link to Coschedule.)
Qualities to Look for in Team Members and Agency Partners
The people who work together to create and promote your content should possess qualities.
- Creativity and enthusiasm.
- Strong research and organizational skills.
- The ability to communicate with clarity, accuracy, and interpersonal warmth.
- Capacity to develop and share a compelling story.
- A willingness to work in close cooperation with other people.
- An understanding of your business and its needs.
- The ability to learn quickly and adapt to new online trends and software developments.
If you feel potential team members – whether a direct employee, freelancer, or agency – don’t have these qualities, they may not be the right fit for your content marketing team.
How Are You Building Your Small Content Team for Big Content Marketing Success?
Are you trying to hire full-time employees, recruit other departments to help, or work with an agency? Share your experiences in the comments below.