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Are Content Strategists The Most Important People You’ll Hire?

Content marketing is getting harder. To realize the benefits of good content, marketers have had to improve their ability to create and manage content, target audiences and assess results. Complexity and opportunity have combined to make the content strategist a critical hiring decision for most marketers.

Content marketing is getting harder

Content design director Monica Bussolati argues that all content marketers should rigorously follow a five-step routine:

  1. Create clear, actionable target-audience personas
  2. Develop a content strategy
  3. Identify the right performance measures
  4. Creatively repurpose more of your existing content
  5. Use collaboration, marketing-automation, curation and search-analysis technology

This is a daunting list. While it was never that easy to use content to market products and services, low barriers to entry and an abundance of content make the strategy role a critical one.

Complexity and opportunity

The content strategist must understand audiences, tie requirements to a content plan, measure effectively and then use advanced tools to fine-tune both repurposing and dissemination. Marketers are looking for people who can do all these things, at a time when many of the tools and practices are rapidly evolving.

The good news: the value of well-planned content marketing is clear. Platforms like Google have spent years refining algorithms to favor sites whose content is found to be relevant, timely and of good quality. These search engines want to return results that matter to their users.

An effective content strategist will lead the way in developing content that appeals directly to the needs of a set of target audiences. But the role extends beyond content development to include analytics, social media strategy, fostering two-way conversations and more. Finding the right person to lead those efforts can be a significant challenge.

The right hire

The content strategist role is a blended one, with skills and experience drawn from disciplines that until now have been managed separately, even independently. 

Certainly, many people who are now called “content strategists” came from functions that touched upon content. In that sense, their prior skills and experience are being put to use in a larger setting.

But content strategy is organized around customers, not formats or functions. A content strategist who continues to think of the role as an extension of news, advertising or marketing misses the cross-functional cooperation required to organize around customers.

Marketers who treat content strategy as a way to push messages to consumers will probably continue to rely on established formats. That misses the two-way communication opportunity available across multiple platforms.

Content strategy is new, and making it work requires a consumer focus. In hiring for the role, marketers might favor candidates who have worked with customers over those who have worked with content or various production and assessment technologies.

So yes, content marketing is getting harder. Marketers must continue to improve their ability to create and manage content, target audiences and assess results. Hiring the right content strategist, though, can help marketers navigate the complexity and opportunity that characterize this new environment.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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