Seven Habits of Highly Effective Content Marketers

Nov 29, 2018

We writers would like to think we’re miracle-workers transforming our clients’ budding ideas into brilliantly persuasive prose but we’re mere mortals, just like you. We don’t do our best work alone. We do it with the help of (drum roll, please) … sharp marketing pros.

In case you think this is about to become a blatant suck-up to Dear Client, let me say what I mean to do here. I want to highlight the traits of marketers who really understand great content  especially those who really get the value of top-notch thought leadership and know what it takes to create it.

I want to do this in hopes that it adds a little more grease to the wheels of editorial development makes it a bit easier and quicker (and therefore less costly) for author teams and marketers to produce content. Or at least makes things a tad smoother for business writers.

Here, then, is a writer’s idea of the profile of ideal marketers:

  1. They know the difference between thought leadership and commercial content. They never try to pass off promotional ideas as anything other than commercial stuff. They’re well aware, of course, that thought leadership content is marketing too, but they can explain its place on the marketing spectrum, much closer to generating awareness than landing new contracts.
  2. They can articulate the business case for every piece of content. The writer’s best marketing partner works hard to place each piece of content in its proper context as part of a broad, multichannel campaign designed to raise awareness of particular competencies in this or that industry, perhaps, or to seize the moment when a topic on which the company’s experts can speak authoritatively is about to make headlines.
  3. They don’t just jump to the next shiny object. Model marketers are “planful” meaning that they take time to craft coherent marketing campaigns that support the growth objectives of the business, and then stick with those plans. They leave room for serendipity opportunities, of course, but they resist the of out-of-the-blue ideas sometimes championed vociferously by senior experts.
  4. They acknowledge that it take time to create great content. Content-savvy marketers know that 2,500-word white papers don’t get written in two days or a week or sometimes several weeks, for that matter. They’re comfortable with the cadence of drafting of and iterating with authors. They respect the fact that top-notch business writers have full plates, and aren’t just sipping their mocha lattes while waiting for the authors to say “jump.”
  5. They have a firm grip on the editorial budget. Yes, the writer’s model marketer understands editorial times and therefore costs, but also keeps close tabs on how much each piece is costing. They ask for estimates at the outset (realizing that they’re estimates, not fixed-price quotes), require good communication on hours consumed, and on larger, longer-duration projects, they will work with writers to develop and manage against cost trajectory reports before and during projects.
  6. They understand they’re the third leg of the content creation stool. They’re the writer’s perfect wingman a collaborator on some of the first-pass approaches to the content, a project manager to ensure that things are running on time, an intermediary with editors and designers, and a broker of interactions with the authors (the third leg of the stool).
  7. They stand up to powerful, opinionated authors. Model marketing managers don’t reflexively side with the managers and partners who probably sign their paychecks. They have quite enough credibility and confidence to counter the sometimes mercurial and, shall we say, forceful decisions of experts whose expertise isn’t in writing. They push back with strong business arguments, providing cover for writers who often don’t have the authority to do so alone.

I could go on. Top marketers don’t play copy editor. They’re super-proactive. They’re always looking to improve their craft. They’re relationship maestros, working with plenty of quirky creative types while winning and retaining the respect of data-driven executives.

So a big shout-out to all you marketing pros who already check all of the boxes above. You know who you are. My colleagues and I know who many of you are. Now please get lots more of your peers to play in the same league as you do.