Despite a few famous examples of employees at companies creating content, most people we speak to think content marketing is the preserve of C-level ‘thought leaders’ or hired content professionals. At best, a savvy marketer with some copywriting skills gets a go.
But the net must be cast wider. So the questions are simple: who and why?
While it’s no bad thing to hear from the boss (whether you like or hate the term ‘thought leadership’ is another thing – we’re betting you’re no fan), or use professional content creators like Collective Content, by discounting the voices of others in your organisation, you’ll be missing out.
Here are some examples where being inclusive can really pay off:
Customer service staff – This can mean those in a call centre, those on the shop floor or many other types of employee. A mobile network operator we know will defer to the product knowledge of a retail expert on the high street – who, by the way, is young and great at doing a demo in a 60-second video. The upside? Your customers hear an authentic, in-the-trenches voice… people who are naturals, not media-trained to blandness. You also prove that your people know their stuff.
Engineers, designers, line workers – In some sectors, let’s say technology (a vertical we know well), those who create are often behind the scenes. Think developers, project managers, designers. Even if they get to speak in their own voice in a blog or podcast or somewhere else, these might be hard to find or hear. But your customers care about these people. These are the geeks and the thinkers who are already shaping our two-years-from-now lives. Give them some assistance – an editor, for example – and let them shine.
Longest-serving employee – This isn’t always relevant but take the example of Ginny Bahr. Never heard of her? She was working on Madison Avenue when the Don Draper era began in the 1960s. She’s still there now – as agency JWT’s longest-serving employee. OK, this might be more interesting to those of us in media and marketing, but who wouldn’t want to hear her? In an era of storytelling, imagine the stories she could tell.
Favourite partner – This person would be, by definition, from another company. Ask yourself whether there is an organisation that works very closely with you. Is there someone on the outside, but still ‘part of the family’, who will vouch for your organisation and knows all about the way you work? There are potentially other partners out there, and they would like to know what it’s like teaming up with you. This is one way to tell them through honest insight from an outsider.
That’s unfortunate. Besides all the good things your customers will get from any of the above groups taking part, there is also a quiet benefit to the employees. Those who take part will feel more highly valued and central to your organisation. The whole exercise will raise their profiles too, which is no bad thing.
There’s also a good chance their peers will feel like, next time it could be them. Yours will be the type of culture that doesn’t just expect the highest-paid person in the room to talk.
Help your people create, while being clear about ground rules and expectations. Over time, this will spread the love around your organisation and open up the opportunity to start a lot of new customer conversations.