15/02/2023 • Marisa Crimlis-Brown
If you’re an in-house marketer, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get members of your wider team to contribute. Scientists, economists, financial analysts, engineers, whoever; everyone is so busy and let’s be honest, many team members have negligible interests in creating content for the marketing team.
But if you’re not using your people for content creation, you’re missing a trick. Firstly, people buy from people and secondly, it can be a crucial tool for your resident experts to help communicate your company’s USPs and demonstrate expertise. They are often the most useful part of differentiating your company from competitors.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to talk about this very topic, Getting great content out of busy people, with community expert and marketing guru, Joe Glover, on The Marketing Meetup.
When it comes to sourcing brilliant content, I pulled upon my years of experience, whether creating audio content for the BBC, publication and social content for the arts and educational sectors and lead generation pieces when working agency-side with B2B clients.
What I found from interviewing all these people, from scientists to record producers, is empathy will get you everywhere.
Many of these techniques lean on behavioural science or negotiation tactics, but really it comes down to human understanding and a little compassion.
Steal my formula with 10 key elements to get your wider teams and resident experts on board with content creation. Read on or watch the video.
Firstly, company buy-in is a great place to start, because so much can be avoided by a good corporate culture; an environment to encourage sharing and contribution from all members of the team.
This will have to come from a leadership level, but you can get things moving in the right direction. You’ll need a clear plan of what success looks like and at least a few followers to help build momentum and affect the change we’re after. A great way to do this is:
You never know where your next great idea will come from; though, often, it’s from your people. Be willing to listen when they come to you with insights, even if they don’t have business or marketing experience, they can be incredibly perceptive.
The companies that encourage this tend to see brilliant results. By way of examples, here are a few unexpected contributions from team members that have stayed with me:
The thing that links these ideas is an interest in audience needs from fresh perspectives.
Don’t overlook departments that don’t normally contribute to content creation; they will have valuable insights to share and can source content for you.
Where to begin? Go out and meet everyone. Listen to their day-to-day experiences.
It could be front of house, admin staff, security, catering, engineering, programmers.. anyone! Explore these departments, see what insights they can share around customers, process, pain points. This is customer research, it’s market research and potential content!
Next, get them to start sourcing content for you. Can they write down customer quotes for you or observations? If they’re interested in taking photos, could you upskill them? It won’t feel like extra work if you let them know what you’re looking for. People like to be helpful.
And, while we’re at it, get data straight from the source. Go explore where your interesting data is hiding. From financial teams to the catering department, there is so much brilliant data for you to explore. Just look to Monzo for their witty financial content - a masterclass in joining topical conversations online - or Spotify for inspo on how they spin your data into comedic content that gets attention.
This is a good, old-fashioned, behavioural science tactic. If you want to get useful content out of your colleagues, make it as easy as possible for them to help you.
Great! So how can you do this? Try:
Job titles, hierarchy, internal politics, leave any preconceptions at the door and come in fresh and curious – we’re all just people at the end of the day. Show them you’re interested in what they do, and that this is their opportunity to talk about their work and contributions to your organisation. This usually gets people talking!
Awkward conversations open doors. If you can embrace the discomfort, you’re winning. So, get yourself ready and take control. Just don’t forget your favourite ‘pump up’ song to get you energised or reward yourself with a treat afterwards. Once you’ve broken the ice, you’re well on your way to securing great insights.
This is so important. Show people they’re not wasting their time with you, as you’re already ready for the content session. Do your research on your subject beforehand.
Here, you can:
I know we’re all time poor, but I promise doing your research is never wasted time. It will give you control over the interview session so you can focus on the most interesting bits. Plus, it shows the subject that you’re actually interested in them. Win/win!
If you’re meeting someone who isn’t very keen to speak with the marketing team, I always find it helpful to start your session by letting them vent. This might sound counterproductive, but I promise, it’s a useful exercise.
Leave time for people to tell you what they think of the marketing, the industry, their day-to-day working life. Let them have a grumble if they need it. This is useful for two reasons:
What I’ve often found is those people that grumble the loudest often end up being your biggest brand champions. So let them get it off their chest, clear the air and start fresh. Help them understand what you’re trying to accomplish, and everyone will come at the task with renewed energy.
The most important bit! Big up the people willing to take time out to help you. Be generous with your praise.
Point to your contributor’s successes with sceptical colleagues who aren’t yet interested in helping you. Share congratulations and praise if their content is getting noticed.
If you didn’t use their content for whatever reason, be sure to tell them why and what’s the plan going forward. You don’t want them to feel they wasted their time in helping you.
If you’re still struggling to get people to contribute to content creation, maybe you’re not the right person to deliver the request. Here, I’ve seen great things from bringing in external support. It could come in the form of experts or consultants (everyone must listen to experts, right!). Or, if there isn’t the money or time for that approach, an industry peer or someone they like and respect from outside the organisation can work a treat. They might just need a new perspective or a bit of gravitas they’re not getting from you. Don’t be discouraged! Requests hit differently from others outside immediate working circles.
It all boils down to:
I’ve used this formula again and again, with everyone from economists to artists, students to accountants. And it works.
Just remember, your people are your secret weapon, so remind anyone who needs to hear it!
Watch the full video with more examples and a Q&A session with Marisa and Joe.
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