I recently heard Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, speak at DemandCon. He spoke about marketing departments hiring former journalists as Content Directors for their organizations. He gave several examples of valuable insights that trained journalists bring to the role of Content Marketer. To watch Joe’s entire presentation visit the DemandCon BrightTalk channel here.
As moved as I was by Joe’s presentation I began to reflect on my own career and path to success as a content marketer. I do have a marketing degree but I spent most of my actual work career as a project manager, professional services manager and pre-sales engineer. I think all of these areas provide skills that could be leveraged by the marketing department to create good content. As guest authors on blogs, to contribute to or author white papers and they are invaluable resources in the creation of case studies. I will give you a few examples of skills I picked up in each of these roles that prepared me to be the content marketer I am today.
As a general rule project managers are skilled documenters. They are responsible for keeping their projects on-time, in scope and under budget. Because they rarely have direct supervisory responsibility for those under them they have to use well honed people skills and wide array of motivation tactics to keep their teams performing in harmony. They also must constantly balance the needs of both internal and external customers. I truly never had such a challenging job as the 5 years I spend managing IT implementation projects.
Why those responsible for content marketing should get to know their organizations project managers? Because they know what happens after the sale. They can review your content marketing materials with a finely honed BS meter. They have tremendous contacts within the organization to the deepest Subject Matter Experts on any given topic. They know where the product guys and gals go for lunch and what kind of beer the Quality Testing staff drinks.
These are the road warriors of any B2B organization. They are the folks who are tasked with going to whatever remote area your customers data center, warehouse, etc is in and physically implementing the product. Whether that be software, hardware, a conveyor belt these soldiers of your industry have seen more Hampton Inn’s that anyone else and they are the “face” of your organization to end user.
Marketers need to know them because they know what customers say about your organization during the implementation, what the hidden benefits of your product are and what ends up making the biggest difference to customers in the end. They know what your customers say about your competitors that you are either replacing or got selected over. Once a Professional Services person has been on site with a client for several weeks they often develop a closeness that can’t be duplicated. I once spent 9 weeks at the same company in rural Wisconsin doing a proof of concept. When I was done with that implementation I knew more about the internal politics of my customer and their buying process than many of their internal staff because the CIO’s secretary who arranged my hotel and travel was very talkative. We used feedback I picked up from that client to reshape our whole ROI model and value proposition for all deals within that industry.
If a Content Marketer wants to float some possible messaging, a new product brochure, sales deck out into the world their best friend is the Pre-Sales Engineer. Pre-Sales are the technical grunts that travel around to most product demo or second tier sales meetings and sit silently waiting to expound on the deep intricacies of the product when the Salesperson has run out of blurbs and drivel they memorized off the slicks that marketing provided them. In most meetings that means the Pre-Sales person spends the first two-thirds or three-fourths of the meeting sitting and watching the crowd. They are lying in wait for the moment when the sales rep says “would you like to see a demo”.
Why is this valuable to content marketing? Because Pre-Sales is trained to listen to what departments / pain points are represented in the meeting and then when it comes time for their demo to make sure they include some sort of example or benefit for everyone in the room. “Jane, I remember you mentioned you are from inside sales. I wanted to make sure I showed you the workflow component of our application which allows you to quickly enter data one place and have it populate the CRM and ordering system. It sounds like that is a two step process for you with your current application”. Once you get a vigorous head nod from a department or a request for a follow up case study / white paper on a particular pain point then you know you have hit pay dirt.
If Pre-Sales is actively involved in contributing to your blog or is aware of your editorial calendar they can help engage these departmental attendees and evangelize engagement in your community.
I would love to hear examples of other Content Director working across their organizations to get content contributors in unexpected places. Please comment below!