7 Steps to Turning Large Companies into Content Marketing and Blogging Machines

by Marcus Sheridan

About a year ago, I started creating a vision in my mind whereby employees of larger companies around the world would see themselves individually as teachers, marketers, and content producers for their perspective company/employer.

I literally sat back and imagined employees from every imaginable branch of a large corporation—be it customer service, sales, marketing, engineering, HR, etc.—taking the time to teach the rest of the world what they do, how they do it, and why it’s important.

In my mind, if companies were spending hundreds of thousands in payroll to have employees answer consumer questions day in and day out (with their normal duties), why couldn’t those same employees produce content? Why couldn’t they shoot videos when they saw a teaching moment? Why couldn’t they write articles that would make for the perfect information piece as part of the company blog?

As I shared this vision with a few folks in my field, many said it couldn’t be done.

“Employees can’t write.”

“Employees don’t really care about marketing.”

“You’ll never get buy-in.”

Blah, blah, blah.

In many ways, HubSpot was one of the first medium to large sized companies to empower all their employees so as to be content producers.

Notwithstanding the naysayers, I moved forward with this vision in my head, which is why when a company like Block Imaging called me last year for help, I immediately suggested we embrace a company-wide culture shift—one where everyone would not just understand the principles of social and content marketing, but they’d also clearly see how they individually could make a difference and use their skills and passions to benefit the entire organization.

After having explained this vision to their CMO Krista Kotrla, she had the audacity to dream big as well and pitched the idea to management. (Read an excellent interview with Krista here)

Considering Krista had essentially been on a deserted island before that and left alone to produce all the web content, she understood just how much of a change this program could have on her company as well as her personally.

Believing in the teaching abilities of her fellow employees at Block Imaging is just one characteristic that makes Krista Kotrla such a visionary in her field.

To make a long story short, after I met with the entire staff and gave the vision of what Krista and I saw to be possible, everyone bought in. Bloggers and content producers came from out of the woodwork and the magic began.

Today, less than a year into this “shift,” Block Imaging’s blog has become the voice on their industry. It has also skyrocketed their brand recognition and lead to a significant uptick in sales.

Even better, they’re just getting started.

Since that experience with Block Imaging, I’ve created an entire business model around going into organizations and teaching the vision that is a “culture of content marketing.” From basement waterproofing companies to government contractors to law firms, I’ve had the incredible pleasure of overseeing and being a part of this shift—regardless of the industry or sector.

As mentioned in a previous article here on TSL, the sales staff at US Waterproofing is a great example of a company with a content marketing culture.

To say the last year has been an incredible ride would be an understatement. Furthermore, I can’t wait to show, in detail, the results these organizations are getting as time rolls on. But for now, I want mention 7 keys to establishing these content marketing cultures within larger organizations, and I look forward to hearing your further thoughts below in the comment section.

1. Complete Buy-In from the Top: I’ve got one main rule when a company calls me to speak/consult with their organization about social and content marketing—there must be buy-in from the top. Why? Because if management doesn’t see the vision, 99% of the time the efforts will fail. A trickle-down effect of good or bad will absolutely occur based on the decisions and attitudes of management.

2. Educated Management: What is SEO? How does Google actually work when it comes to search? How do consumers use Google to research, shop, and buy products? What type of questions do they ask? What effect does great content have on a company’s sales process?

All these questions and more need to be understood by management if there is going to be content marketing success, as “professional ignorance” is simply not an acceptable alternative if greatness is to be achieved.

3. In-house Summit/Workshop: This is the step most companies completely miss. Sometimes management understands the power of content marketing but their employees have no clue—nor should they—at least until someone teaches them the “why” of all this stuff.

The entire purpose of an in-house summit is to help all employees understand exactly how content marketing works, how it will benefit the business, and how it will impact them directly. Once employees understand this, and are all on the same page, then the magic can happen.

The bottom line is that a culture of content marketing will never be established with uneducated employees, top to bottom. In this competitive world of business, ignorance is NOT bliss, nor does it equate to success.

4. The Imperative that is a CCO: I’m going to be talking more and more going forward about the power of a Chief Content Officer for an organization but let me just say that all cultures need leaders, and if a company is going to embrace a culture of content marketers then a CCO is essential.

The definition of a "CCO", as described by the renowned Content Marketing Institute

Over the last year, I’ve trained and hired multiple CCOs for organizations around the globe, and the impact this one position can have on a company of 10, 100, or 1000 is absolutely astounding.

5. An Editorial Calendar: Like everything else in this world, until something is written in stone, it’s likely not going to happen. To explain it simply, an editorial calendar for content marketing has 3 essential elements:

  1. A blog post title (generally speaking, there should always be 25 blog post titles in the queue)
  2. A publish date
  3. A responsible author

Most of the companies I work with always have at least 3 months of content, dates, and authors laid out in advance so as to ensure consistency over the long haul.

6. Continual Training: What do consumers want in a blog post? How should it be written? How can we overcome the “curse of knowledge” as teachers? What are some do’s and don’ts with video?

These questions and more should be discussed by the CCO and management with employees as they attempt to embrace the content producers/teacher mentality.

7. Continual Awareness: A content marketing culture is meant to be permanent, and so to keep the benefits of content marketing at the forefront of employee thought, here are the types of “victories” that should be made known to the organization on a regular basis:

  • When a blog post or video goes viral.
  • When a blog post, through SEO or social, generates a lead that turns into a sale/customer.
  • When a blog post ranks high for a particular keyword phrase.
  • When a consumer/reader makes a positive comment about a piece of content.
  • When a sales person has an experience whereby a piece of content quickened the sales cycle by having a positive impact on the prospect.

As you might imagine, the possibilities here are endless, but employees need to hear about all the success that is happening as a direct result of their content marketing efforts, and individual recognition/awards is a big part of this.

(Note*** Most companies I work with have a monthly content marketing success newsletter whereby most of this “recognition” occurs.)

Your Turn:

I’ve tried to keep this list to the essentials of CM success but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Has your organization done any of these things listed above? What have been the results? What have been your struggles? What would you add to the list?

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