How to Build High-Performing Content Teams with AI and Expertise

Learn effective strategies for building and managing a content marketing team, including tips on setting a content strategy and hiring the right talent. Additionally, the post delves into the role of AI in content creation and the importance of aligning marketing efforts with company objectives.

January 22, 2024

What are some of the functions that you are looking for when you are starting out and building a team in the content marketing space?

Great question! I like to take a step back, and instead of looking at the function and the roles we want to hire, I look at what we need content marketing to do. At the base of it, there are three main roles, functions, and actions that need attention. First off, set the content strategy. Where are you going to go with the content? Who are you talking to? Who is your audience? What are they going to resonate with? All that great stuff and line it up with the company objectives. Then, you have your content creation bucket. These guys are going to be the builders. They are the ones who are going to make it happen for you and create all that amazing content that you get out the door and distribute, things like paid ads, social media, and anything that is going to get your content in the hands of your audience.

How do you know the right kind of person to hire? Are you looking for subject matter experts? Are you looking for career marketers? Are you looking for writers? What have you found to be the magic mix when you are getting those creators and builders in the door?

I have found that it really depends on a few factors. The first one is the space that you are in. It might be a space that is extremely niche. There are a lot of intricacies. As many articles as we can read online, you are just not going to get the same output as you would from someone who has twenty years of experience in the space. That is an area where you would really want to look to hire someone with that expertise. If it is something that is pretty impossible to fake and your readers will pick up on that, or if it is not something that is going to resonate with them. If it is not speaking directly to them or if it is going to sound inauthentic. That is definitely a scenario where you would want to hire someone to come in. Otherwise, if it is something that you have a lot of subject matter experts around the company and it can be from your CEO or product manager. Product marketers are always a really great resource. Anyone who is there to really be knowledgeable within the space and share that knowledge and they have a lot of experience all the time, so you can tap into them and use them to either create content or do some ghostwriting so that you are hitting that tone in terms of authenticity and the content you are creating is really going to hit the mark with your audience.

As far as builders and creators staying in the same vein, how is AI playing a role? Is it taking the place of someone? How are you feeling now about generative AI in content creation?  

Boy, did that hit the scene? I really had a lot of marketers moving and a lot of ones questioning how we are going to fit this in. They wondered if their job was at risk. I had read articles online about some companies getting rid of their entire SEO teams, which was a pretty bold move. But, when you really look at AI, it is an impactful technology. We have had this come and go before. I try not to date myself too much, but I still remember having heated arguments with our CEO about the use of Twitter. When that was still controversial, and no one was using it, they wanted to stay away from it. They did not want to engage and did not want to put messages out there. Look at us now. Twitter itself has evolved to become a whole other company, but that is another topic of discussion. As you look at technologies like AI, it is really fortunate that we are able to use this now as another tool. As we are talking about building teams, sometimes you do not have the budget to hire someone for each of those three actions that we spoke about earlier. Maybe you might need to hire just that one person to come in and take over all three creation, strategy, and distribution. When that happens, having a tool like AI can really help them with their workflows, create content, and brainstorm. I would say today I have yet to see something come straight out of ChatGPT that I thought was ready to publish and print. While the evolution is happening, there is still room for content creators to go in and review the content, edit it, make it their own, and get it out the door or use it as a tool.

There is another AI tool that my team uses frequently. When we are doing our video series, we take it, throw it into the tool, and we are able to spin out multiple pieces of content in hours. It used to take days to do that. Then, we are able to do more with less and use our team more strategically. We can point them to other projects and use AI to help us automate the rest of it and create content. The tool is called Summarize with AI.

When you are building a team, how do you stay within budget and narrow down who you are going to hire? How do you plan for the future? What is the breakdown of how you take a budget and turn it into roles and action items for the team and grow the team?

I always start with the company objectives because that is what is going to dictate a lot of how you build your team. If it is a company that is more focused on getting that brand awareness, you must focus on distribution so that you can get all the content out there. A company that is more focused on leadership and being a category creator is really setting its mark in a particular industry. That is when it is more about leaning in on research reports, creating the content, and defining your point of view as a company. That takes a much different lens and skill set than it does for getting the word out there. So, objectives are always the first stop.

The budget has got to be second. If you do not have a healthy budget, I have found that you should hire a highly skilled content marketing manager because they will be your mission control. They understand what content needs to be created, where it needs to go, and who you need to talk to. Ideally, you are able to have some budget and even use some tools like AI. That person can ensure all the buckets are being filled and you hit your objectives accordingly. Most teams can then demonstrate success, continue to hit the objectives, and maybe even get more budget and another team member eventually.

How do you pitch to management to allocate additional budget to expand the team?

I like to paint a picture for them of what could be. If we were to bring in someone who is dedicated to video, we could create videos and get them out into the seller’s hands. One of the most valuable ways to approach it is to bring data into the story. Bring in some of the results that you are seeing from the content that you have already created and put out into the market. You can show you are having traction. You are demonstrating success. You are marking off those objectives and hitting the targets, so we should be doing more of this. As we can do more, we will continue to see some success.

If you do not have the budget to build the full team you dream of and start exploring freelance or outsourcing, how do you balance that? How do you manage that? What roles do you typically outsource? How does that play into the team dynamic?

I have found the most success with outsourcing to writers and content creators. There is a lot of expertise in that area. It is rich with freelancers who are experienced in your niche and your target market. They have created assets that are similar to what you are creating, and so they have a lot of work like that under them. They know very well what is working and what is not working for a variety of businesses, too. They are not just working for you. I find it is a great wealth of knowledge and insights, and you get a peak of what is working for other companies, too. They have the ability to create the content, and they do not take a heavy lift in terms of management. You can create a brief, send it to them, and they are good to go. I have found a lot of benefits there. There are some video freelancers that work well, too. It really goes back to that company objective. I am in a company where video is very valued, and we have a very skilled video team. We keep a lot of our creations for that internally, which is great because they love consuming the videos and want to be close to them. I am not going to deny them that experience. We want full access to the video team, but it is a little harder to do if it is a freelancer. It always depends on your objectives, but I have found the most success with outsourcing to writers.

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