Content Marketing Is A People Business
The recurring themes you see when talking about successful content marketing is people, their skills and specifically teamwork.
With this in mind we wanted to share how you’d make sure you recruited the right and best content marketers for your company or at least reduce the risk of making poor choices.
We also wanted to think about the Content Marketer being recruited, how would you ensure you’re prepared for an interview, what might you be asked and what might you want to know about the company you’re thinking about joining?
We’ve broken our advice into 4 parts
- Knowledge and experience
- Personality fit
- Interview and test
Content Marketing Knowledge and Experience
We know what we want from our team but wanted to cast the net further out to see what was typical for a Content Marketer. To help we have taken a look at Job Descriptions and LinkedIn profiles at the skills that are required and declared. There are recurring themes in Content Marketing around:
Content strategy and planning: It’s an obvious a big part of the job whether acting as a project lead or team member. This means a comprehensive understanding of the content marketing channels is essential along with tools and data.
SEO: Knowledge and experience of SEO concepts, tools and data are a core theme, which given the consumer demand for content that captures organic search demand and the ROI, it’s unsurprising. There are also a lot of SEO’s that have moved to become Content Marketers.
Social media: The channels, data and opportunity for earned and paid media is a significant part of the Content Marketing mix and social has a significant part to play in keeping a company’s brand and product ‘front-of-mind’.
Copy / Proofing: The written word is central to all content marketing campaigns, which means you’ve got to love all forms of copywriting and have an ability to manage the sign-off process from brief to sign-off, including proofing.
Visual Design: Pictures, graphics, and video in addition to having a grasp of how good visual design works generally.
Brand Design: The bigger the company the more guidelines there are that define and provide a framework in which content needs to be produced.
Research: Before great content there’s often great research, where finding the audience, demand, traffic potential, hooks, detail and angles that can focus energy, spark and fuel ideation is as important as the final output. This for the content marketer often means being comfortable around data and software like Excel and Sheets.
Content Briefing: Good brief writing takes skill and should not be considered a low level skill.
Without the brief there is no content. The better the brief the more likely the creative will return content back that meets your objectives.
Outreach: Publish and they will come is obviously not often true and the ability to identify your most effective channels, media and people to engage with is part of the content marketing process and a skill that can be refined through-time.
Measurement: For too many this is an Achilles heel. Without it though you’re facing a world of professional misery. It’s essential to know what to measure, how to measure it and what the data means.
Internal Communications: Content marketing is a multi-person / team enterprise, spanning the whole marketing organisation. Then of course there’s the small matter of communicating with and supporting other departments. Being able to communicate professionally and be a great team player is a given for a content marketer.
Platforms, tools and data: All the way through the plan, create, promote and measure cycle there are content marketing software platforms, tools and data. A content marketers familiarity, and depth of experience with marketing technology is an essential part of the job. Not only is it useful that they can use your technology, ideally they’d make you aware of opportunities to evolve or solve specific current challenges with software.
Internal Reporting: How are we doing? Everyone wants to know and will expect to be informed in an appropriate and professional way.
That’s a diverse spread of capabilities. Have we missed anything? Knowing what you’re looking for if you’re recruiting and what your strengths and weaknesses are if you’re being recruited is a great start to building an amazing team.
Knowledge and experience are great but it’s not enough. Your personality also needs to fit and depending on the role being discussed, personality traits might include:
- Ability to follow a defined process
- Not get distracted, start and finish task
- Be goal orientated
- Be flexible
- Be highly productive
- Be flexible and innovative
- Be sociable
- Be encouraging
- Be reliable
- And a general force for good
We’ve spoken to recruitment experts about the challenges of finding the right people for your team and behaviour and values also feature strongly.
Underneath we all need to share the same behaviours and values. If not, there are likely to be challenges somewhere along the line. Gabby Shaw, ADLIB Recruitment
Which brings us onto a sensitive area. Assessments.
Myers Briggs is the world’s most popular personality test. With an accuracy of over 90%, the test defines you as one of 16 personality types. Each type is able to assess how are at:
- Directing and receiving energy
- Taking in information
- Making decisions
- Approaching the outside world
Knowing and understanding these types are relevant in our professional lives and you always want to ensure we have the right balance of people in a team and the members in our team are being asked to do what they are naturally geared towards doing.
For example, the ENFJ is summarized as “warm, empathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Find potential in everyone, want to help others fulfil their potential. May act as catalysts for individual and group growth. Loyal, responsive to praise and criticism. Sociable, facilitate others in a group, and provide inspiring leadership.”
Assessments tools don’t give a direct route to getting the right person, but can give you a different insight about candidates to explore and add into your recruitment mix. It also makes for a memorable experience for the candidate (if managed well!), so is great for your brand too. What’s stopping you?! Cath Wilson, Exec & Development Coach, HR Consultant
Whereas the ESTJ is summarized as: “practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Take care of routine details. Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also. Forceful in implementing their plans.”
There has been a lot written about the issues with hiring staff using personality tests. Caution is certainly advised and they should never be used in isolation. As a way of thinking about the types of personality you think would match the role you’re recruiting for they are certainly useful. For example, would you want to hire a person for a role that involves following a specific process when they struggle with following process? Or in a role when you require them to be innovative and dynamic problem solvers when that’s a long way off being a role where they are likely to thrive.
So for example, if you’re recruiting into an established team with established processes that you’re not looking to innovate on or change you might want some of the characteristic of an ISTJ into a Job Description. You might also want to test whether they have evidence of these traits at interview, through references and you could even make them do the test as a supplementary layer, whilst of course being aware of its strengths and weaknesses.
We’d love to know what you think about Personality tests and which Myers Briggs types you think make the best content marketers in the comments.
Would you do the test here and share your job title and your type via the comments below if you’re a content marketer. Will there be a pattern and correlation between job title and type?
Interviews and Tests
The interview is still the most relied on method of finding a person, role, company fit and chemistry. During an interview you can discover the ‘fit’ by asking questions and trusting the verbal response, and asking questions and getting a demonstrated response. Here are ideas on questions:
20 Revealing Interview Questions To Help You Spot A Rockstar
What do you know about [company]?
Have they done lots of homework on the company, the market / competition, the content they’re producing, and the team producing it? The more the better.
What did you like and dislike about our content?
The politics of this are a minefield and insightful. Not only does it indicate the level of research that’s been done it also indicated things like how conflict might be approached, opinions debated and argued, how logical thinking might be applied, whether opinions are formed and whether they can be influenced.
What positive and negative words would your colleagues use to describe you?
It’s difficult to make the answers to this kind of question up and on the whole it’s answered honestly, which makes the responses interesting.
Which specific skills that you have, would you think we’d be mad to not use?
This is a good question as you’re able to check the response against the job description and see if there are any bonus skills you may not have required but would nevertheless be useful.
On a scale of 1 – 10, how good are you at [Content Marketing]?
Again, people are generally honest. What if the answers 5 but you add that you’re always learning and there are no experts. What does that say to you? Or if you give yourself a 10. Too good to be true or plain big headed. Either way, a good follow-up is asking where the knowledge and skill gaps are.
What are your immediate and long-term career goals?
There can often be a disconnect between the role and potential progression path of a candidate and their own expectations. Best to know now rather than later that they’d like to be Director of Global Content Strategy in a year and the CMO in 2 years.
What do you know that most content marketers would consider rare or hard to come by knowledge?
There are actually relatively few rare and hard to come by skills. This makes this answer to this question really interesting. Is content marketing about execution as opposed to rare knowledge or are there secrets to success that only a few people have?
Is it better to do things perfect and late, or good and on-time?
It’s not uncommon to meet people that get the first 80% of a task done in fast then struggle to complete the task because it’s never good enough or complete. Then there’s the do it fast and OK people that don’t really know what really good is and how to get there, and these are balanced with those who know how to make good happen and on-time.
Do you do things just-in-time or straight-away?
When you get a task do you start it immediately and get it out of the way days in advance or plan your diary to ensure it’s completed just before it’s needed? Procrastination is something most people suffer from to some degree, …..
Describe your hardest content marketing challenge?
What content marketing challenge was set that you struggled to achieve? What advice do you have when people are faced with difficult to achieve goals? People that have risen to challenges are more likely to rise to future challenges. Good strategies will include breaking goals down into smaller tasks and using team expertise to fill knowledge gaps.
Describe what often goes wrong in content marketing campaigns?
Having a good list of what often goes wrong is a great sign that you’ll be equipped to avoid the same gotchas in the future.
How do you like to come up with content marketing ideas?
There’s nothing wrong with whiteboards and brainstorming, but you also need to blend the ability to be data and insight driven, whilst all the time thinking about your strategy, objectives and audience.
How do you decide whether a content idea is a Go or No Go?
It’s easy to come up with a list of things to write. Putting them in order and deciding what to write first, last and never is a lot trickier.
When you’ve some great content, how would you go about promoting it?
Promoting content is in many ways more important than the creation. There’s a lot of great content that’s never read because of ineffective promotion. Having an understanding how to align a promotional strategy with the content and having a broad range of tactics in your toolbox is what to look out for here.
Describe a content marketing campaign that inspires you?
If you’re inspired by amazing work done by others it often inspires you to do great work as well, knowing how high the aspirational bar is a good benchmark of what is amazing / inspirational and what might be achieved. Plus it tells you whether they’re tracking the great work of others.
What parts of content marketing do you really not enjoy?
We all have our favourite parts of our profession, knowing which types of task you don’t like tell you about what you might avoid and what you might gravitate towards.
Backlinks or Internal Links?
It’s a question an SEO would love to talk about and if you’ve a content marketer that loves SEO they will talk about this with authority. If they don’t, expect an uncomfortable moment.
Software and data
Here’s a list of software. Which have you used, which do you like and why and what software is missing from the list that you love?
What’s 7% of 7?
If you’re numerate you’ll think about this for less that 10 seconds, if you’re not you’ll take longer, and if you can’t do it, numbers might not your friend.
Are you better at proofreading or editing?
The trick is to know that there’s a difference. Then there’s the issue of whether they’re able to proofread, edit or both?
Depending on the role being recruited for sometimes setting a test is a great way of being shown as opposed to being told. Here’s a revealing task.
[Brand] want their increase their contents visibility and traffic throughout the consumer journey. Present your opportunity analysis including your choice of channels and measurement KPI’s.
This will take ½ day to plan and 45 minutes to present so it’s a big investment in time for both parties. You’ll see how they think, their knowledge of consumer journey’s, channels, software, and of course their ability to present.
References are one of those parts of the recruitment process that needs to be done, but as opposed to sending an email and getting an emailed response have a phone call or coffee shop meeting. It’s much easier to be economical with the truth by email than in-person.
See whether they are a good leaver and whether the answers you got to key questions are the same, and whether there’s agreement on strengths and weaknesses.
A People Profession
Content Marketing is a people profession. From understanding people to create personas and content that resonates to working with people to create content that achieves goals. Having the right people with the right skills, personality and chemistry is essential. Getting it wrong is costly and we’ve the scars to prove it.
We hope this helps you recruit and be recruited for the best content marketing jobs ever.
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