When our colleagues do (sort of) know what we do, they treat us like we’re just off creating “cute” videos and blog posts that just keep people entertained until they can come in and do the real work, or they fail to see our contributions because they’re nested inside much larger campaigns. If content is at the heart of all great marketing (and I believe it is), then why do so few people inside and outside of marketing understand what content marketing is and how it creates value? I could do that.” The same goes for design and video. You can do this by building a relationship of trust with your superiors, perhaps pointing to statistics that show just how big Fast Company’s reach is, and making your work processes more transparent. “In some teams, just creating content is the end goal—if it gets used, or visitors can find it, isn’t their problem.” The Solution: To avoid arguing about subjective opinions on what is and isn’t valuable or relevant, tie all content back to the company’s strategic drivers. In the end, if your boss admits that he’s most interested in releasing more content this quarter than last quarter, then that’s the metric you should be paying closest attention to. I fired back that people probably wouldn’t give the webinar the time of day if they hadn’t first had experiences with the brand via social, blog posts, and ebooks. But for other executives, it’s a message you’ll have to impart again and again.” Some of this is our fault. We can do a better job of translating our results into language our bosses care about. “Rockstar content teams are contextual masters,” says Lucas.
If you’re like many content marketers, when you tell your mom your job title, she reacts with a perplexed smile and something like, “Oh, so what do you do?” An explanation fit for a layperson only yields a brief, labored expression before giving way to an epiphany: “So you’re a writer?”
“Yeah,” you say, realizing that your mom is probably picturing you hunched over a vintage typewriter in a New England cabin, decked out in beatnik attire, while tapping out your great American novel and trying to figure out how you’re going to pay off those pesky student loans.
Not that you can blame Mom. After all, the term “content marketing” didn’t even exist 10 to 15 years ago. Unfortunately, many of us get this same reaction from folks in our own department.
When our colleagues do (sort of) know what we do, they treat us like we’re just off creating “cute” videos and blog posts that just keep people entertained until they can come in and do the real work, or they fail to see our contributions because they’re nested inside much larger campaigns. It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly how our ebook or whitepaper contributed to the stew.
If content is at the heart of all great marketing (and I believe it is), then why do so few people inside and outside of marketing understand what content marketing is and how it creates value? You and I know that our work permeates everything the department does, influencing and converting prospects in subtle but powerful ways. So why is it so hard for others to see that?
Here are five reasons content marketers are underappreciated, plus solutions for getting those who matter to see the value in what we do.
1. Everyone Thinks They Can Write, Design, and Shoot Video
Except for the most self-aware, everyone thinks they can write. They can crank out an email (albeit a terrible one) in three minutes flat, and they get lots of great responses from their friends on their personal social media accounts. So naturally, when they see your well-crafted article that just happened to be awesome enough to be published in Fast Company, some think, “Yeah, big deal. I could do that.”
The same goes for design and video. People assume that just because they can throw together a bunch of clipart in PowerPoint or get 150 likes on a video they shot on their iPhone of their daughter making her first soccer goal, our design or video work must be just as easy—more play than work, in fact.
The Solution: Accept that some of your colleagues will naturally appreciate the difference between writing for a personal blog and crafting truly useful content that fits the brand voice. Others won’t. You can blame it on the internet and social media being the great equalizers, giving every individual a platform, a voice, and a bit of overconfidence. Unless the skeptics happen to be in a position of authority over you, just embrace your inner Disney princess and “Let It Go.” Your focus should be on making sure you have the support you need from above. You can do this by building a relationship of trust with your superiors, perhaps pointing to statistics that show just how big Fast Company’s reach is, and making your work processes more transparent.
“My personal solutions,” says Vincent Orleck, CMO at BRANDish in Phoenix, Arizona, “are to either A) align myself with others who see the content value similarly to how I do, or B) guide those who don’t see it the same way in a direction that allows them to essentially ‘create’ the same content themselves so they are bought into it on their own level rather than me convincing them to do so.”
2. People Don’t Understand What Our Work Requires
We make it look easy. The hours of focused attention that we have to carve out of a distracting workplace aren’t always apparent to others—especially when we have to lock ourselves in a conference room or work from home in order to escape the constant interruptions and concentrate well enough to write. (The biggest office pet peeve cited by marketers in a recent survey? Co-workers who talk too loud. This may be why 53 percent of those polled expect most workers to be remote within just a few years—which will only make our perception problem worse.)
Even while we’re at the office, clacking away at the keyboard, composing the best blog post customers have seen in years, it outwardly looks no different than someone responding to an email or updating social media. Like synchronized swimmers, the effortless grace that is seen by spectators above the water masks the frantic effort that’s taking place beneath the surface.