Having led more than a dozen content teams in the last 15 years as a consultant has given me a unique perspective, allowing me to see what works, what doesn’t and who I couldn’t do without. I’ve learned that great content marketing is a force multiplier for brands of all sizes.
My start in content marketing came in the early aughts, when I created an email newsletter and a blog for the outdoor industry. Since then, I’ve lead content teams for brands of all sizes and types, from agencies to small businesses in the healthcare and fitness verticals to startups in fintech, apparel and eyewear, and technology. What I’ve found is that the output of content marketers far exceeds members of most other teams. This relates to the former wearing many hats and having many touch points throughout the brand.
For example, a large fintech client I worked with in April culled a content marketing team member who was responsible for everything from working with the leadership team to craft messaging to writing video scripts, writing and editing blogs, leading the creation of learning hub content, and facilitating meetings between design, content, marketing, and events.
Losing a content marketing force multiplier can have an outsized impact.
When a raft of layoffs swept through the company, however, her position was eliminated. Things changed in an instant;
- Meetings between teams were canceled.
- Weekly leadership team videos were scuttled.
- Website content was placed on hold.
- External communications (i.e, press releases, media responses, etc.) ceased to exist.
- Internal communications channels (i.e., Slack, Teams, etc.) were largely idle.
- Sales and events employees lost a primary point of content.
Additionally, her loss meant individuals on multiple teams couldn’t operate or interface easily, in addition to a 48% loss in the output of content. How could one person prove so critical? She was far more than a leader on the content team. She was a primary facilitator for people across the company.
When the CEO, who normally joined me to record the interviews in a Q&A style interview, didn’t receive his script over the weekend, he messaged me Sunday evening.
“Hey,” he wrote in Teams. “I didn’t receive the script from Emma (not her real name). …She hasn’t returned my emails. Can you see if you can reach her?”
When I informed him that she was let go the previous week, he didn’t respond. But, I heard from his VP of marketing, who was my main point of contact, that the CEO had no idea that the senior director of content and audience had been let go. He also, I later learned, had no idea how large of a role she played within the 3,400-person company.
How to content marketers became force multipliers
The explosion of digital marketing over the last two decades has led to a vast, rapid expansion of digital content being published on the Web. This has had the effect of content teams growing in size and importance, as all areas of brands work to design, create, share, and amplify content on their websites and their social media pages.
Members of the content team are often front and center in this process, with many—like Emma—having a direct line to all areas of the business. This means that, unlike most other areas of a brand, key content personnel play an outsized role in ensuring that disparate parts of the business communicate well together and with the outside world.
Whereas most employees work in areas areas of the best business where the interactions are mostly between and among leaders and their direct reports—what I call the one-to-one role—content leaders interface with multiple areas of the business, occupying a one-to-many role that’s as unique as it is important.
Therefore, leaders across the company must make doubly sure that, during downsizing, they take steps to counter the losses of content marketers, especially those in leadership roles, lest they be caught flat-footed like my client, the CEO of the fintech startup.
“Had I known the [important role Emma played],” he said, before cutting himself off mid-sentence, on a private Zoom call with me. “Needless to say, in the future, I’ll make certain that we have [safeguards] in place to prevent the disruptions like the one caused by her loss.”
Has your brand felt the impact of losing a content marketing force multiplier?