Content Marketing Traits That are Crucial to Success [Infographic]

With 71 percent of marketers increasing spend on content marketing in the coming year, there’s no doubt that this job title will be in demand for some time to come. But what are the skillsets and characteristics of a rockstar content marketer? (Or if you’re lucky enough to have an entire team of content marketers, then what are the key disciplines needed amongst that team?)  The following infographic provides the anatomy of this “dream” content marketing person:

anatomy-of-a-content-marketer

Below, we will dive deeper into each of the skills or traits, starting at Strategic Thinker and going clockwise.

Strategic Thinker

anatomy-gears

56% of B2B marketers do not have a documented content marketing strategy, and this is definitely a problem, Marketers must have a strategy in place to produce content that is cohesive and actionable. The perfect content marketer will have a list of several goals and make sure that every piece of content drives towards that goal. Some examples of goals can be:

  • Increase site traffic, brand awareness or lead generation
  • Educate prospects on your industry or product benefits
  • Improve search engine optimization or customer service
  • Build customer trust, rapport, loyalty or industry credibility

Process-oriented

Content marketing processes are required to scale your operations. This spans from workflow to publishing to promotion to analytics. Within a content marketing process, there must be:

  • Defined roles and responsibilities for direct and extended members of your team.
  • A path that every piece of content must follow, or at least a staged gate process for decisions to be made about how a piece of content is planned, produced and promoted.
  • An editorial calendar to track content through its various stages.

To learn more about content marketing processes, check out these expert tips to manage your process.

Creative Thinker

anataomy_creative

Too many people are in a state of content shock as they continue to get bombarded by obscene amounts of ebooks, blog posts and other vendor content; therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that your uber-content marketer have the ability to be creative.  (don’t worry, I won’t say “think outside of the box”)

Design Skills

According to Ekaterina Walter, author of The Power of Visual Storytelling, the brain processes visuals 600,000 times faster than text.  Bottom line?. . . If you can communicate your message through a picture or video, then do it.

It is important to think visually, and more importantly, put these visions into eye-catching graphics, infographics and images that draw a connection to your main message for your audience. Content should always include an element of design, so the ability to create these elements using applications such as PowerPoint or Adobe Creative Suite is essential. Examples include:

  • An infographic on Copyblogger, “22 Ways To Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue,” demonstrates the power of imagery to communicate a message. Instead of a basic list, Brian Clark created images for each of the 22 ways.
  • The ability to repurpose a blog post or eBook into a sharable, compelling SlideShare is essential. This makes long posts or books more digestible for your audience.  Learn SlideShare best practices from Todd Wheatland.  Also, check out these super SlideShares:

Video Skills

Video editing is a great skillset to have as a content marketer and will only become more important in the coming years. Currently, YouTube has over 3 Billion video views per day. Uploading videos to a company channel is a great way to reach to your audience.

Cisco predicts that by 2017, video will make up 69% of all consumer internet traffic. So what does this mean? If you don’t have video editing skills you might not be able to reach the majority of audiences in just three years. Take a look at Content Marketing Institute’s Succeed with Video Content Marketing: 5 Tips and a Case Study to start your education. Also, check out these great uses of video for inspiration:

Energetic and Influential Promoter

anatomy-influential

Social Media Know-how

Too many marketers fall short in marketing their marketing; and “promotion” is the process step to address this short-fall.  However, simply composing tweets or posting on Facebook is not enough. The perfect content marketer knows:

  • Which channels to publish to according to their business and industry.
  • The best time to publish for each platform.
  • Who to reach out to make sure content is amplified across several networks and to a wider audience.

Influencer Marketing

Speaking of reaching out to people, you have to get your content in the hands of the right people. Establish meaningful relationships with key influencers in your industry. These influencers will share your content with their networks and soon enough, your reach will expand. Here are some great resources to learn more about this important facet of promotions:

Analytical Thinker

anatomy-analytical

“Be the Analyst”

  • Don’t just communicate facts and figures. . . Speak your mind, contribute your insights and voice your opinion.
  • Ask “so what” about everything you produce in an effort to ensure that what you’re communicating is of value and action-oriented.

Measure, Measure, Measure

The best content marketers are constantly measuring and evaluating the impact of their content to: 1) improve return on their investment; and 2) better demonstrate their impact on the organization.  Which best describes your company’s content marketing measurement tactics?

  • Mostly vanity (e.g., social shares)?
  • Engagement metrics?
  • Metrics that determine your team’s impact on marketing or sales’ pipeline?

No doubt there are numerous resources online about content marketing metrics, but here are just a few to get you started:

  • Rob Yoegel of Gaggle provides actionable tips to keep in mind when measuring content marketing, including:
    • Know when to measure content production and performance
    • Pay attention to where your customer enters the sales funnel
    • Know where your traffic is coming from
  • Tony Jaros of SiriusDecisions recommends that B2B marketers specifically measure their content based on these three metrics:
    • Content utilization
    • Content production time
    • Impact to sales

Witty and Humorous

anatomy-humor

Inject humor into your content. Nothing makes a piece of content stand out more than when its funny and/or witty.  This will also greatly increase the potential for your audience sharing the content with their peers; for example:

  • Marketo’s blog post “You Know You’re a Content Marketer When…” This post uses memes from popular movies and TV shows to exemplify the many habits — and struggles — of being a content marketer.
  • “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise”  from the movie Carrie. The makers of Carrie prank patrons of a coffee shop by planting actors pretending to have telekinetic powers. The result is a hilarious clip of screams and surprises.

Skillful Writer

anatomy-writer

 Creator of irresistible and alluring titles

Remember when I said that readers are in a state of content shock? Well, creating an attention-grabbing title that is both relevant and decent can in many cases make or break your post regardless of your posts actual content.  The best content marketers should have the ability to create a title that will not only entice, but compel readers to click.  Here are a couple of titles that I like:

Ability to Tell a Story

Instead of using words for this talent, let me simply provide some great examples of this:

Attention to detail

Every sentence — and every word — counts. The best content marketers know that to keep their audience interested, every element of their content should be precise. Without this attention to detail, content can come across as disjointed and lacking purpose.

Spelling and Grammar

Good spelling and grammer may seem like an obvious trait for a content marketer; however,  many of us still make mistake’s. Don’t misspelll words or defy simple grammar rule. You’re reader’s will notice them. (Yes, the mistakes in this section were intentional.) As much as it pains me to call-out another content marketer’s spelling mistakes, let me refer to an article in the Huffington Post entitled “The Ten-Second Race to Content Nirvana” has two spelling mistakes in the very first sentence. The first comment at the end of the post points out the error in the article, which ironically is about creating quality content. (Don’t hold back if you find errors across this post.)

HTML skills

Evolving technology is making it easier to create content on the front end. But having a basic knowledge of HTML can help take your content to the next level.

SEO Insight

Content marketers should, no doubt, be primarily focused on content quality for your audience, but don’t underestimate the power of also optimizing content for search engines. For tips about SEO when curating content, check out our list of SEO Do’s and Don’ts.  Also check out what Cyrus Shepard of Moz had to say on the topic of “How to Survive the Google Tornado” during a session I sat through at Marketo’s recent Marketing Nation Summit.

Street Smarts

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Product and Industry Knowledge

It goes without saying that great marketers know what they are writing about.  Knowing your products can be especially difficult for marketers in the technology industry. (e.g., understanding the intricacies of how a semiconductor chip works when you’re marketing to engineers)

  • Work with other functional areas of your company(e.g., product management, product marketing) to get a better understanding of your product.
  • Attend industry events(in-person and virtual) to get smarter in your industry
  • Set up Google Alerts on your company, your products and your competitors.
    • This will not only help you generate ideas, but also alert you when there is news in your industry that you can capitalize upon. (i.e., ideation)
  • If you’re a Curata customer, tap into the power of the self-learning discovery engine to bring you the latest and greatest content from across the Internet on your topic of choice.  Also a great source of ideas for content inspiration as well as a way to follow your industry’s top influencers.

Customer Insight: “Be the Customer”

More important than knowing what you’re writing about is knowing who you’re writing for. Content marketers understand their customers in order to create content that answers their most important and burning questions. They understand:

  • What customers want to learn.
  • What customers already know.
  • How customers are finding content.
  • How customers are consuming content.

Where can you get this insight?

  • Directly interact with your customers. (e.g., go on sales calls with your reps; sit on phone calls conducted by your inside sales team; conduct interviews with your customers as part of a blog post.)
  • Go where your customers go. (e.g., read your customers’ blogs; attend events that they frequent.)
  • Use existing research. (e.g., check out any voice of the customer studies that your company may already be conducting such as Net Promoter Score research or product marketing surveys)

Read, Read, Read

Although content marketing is all about creation and writing, reading about your industry, your market, your customers and how to be a better marketer might be just as important; for example,

Collaborator

anatomy-collaborator

Internal Collaborator

  • Within your company: Team with other functions across marketing(e.g., product marketing, field marketing) and across your organization(e.g,. sales, product management).  Great collaboration will supercharge performance across all parts of the content supply chain:
  • Within your content marketing team: As great as it would be to have all of the skillsets mentioned in this post embodied by one person,  in reality there will be an entire team of people with different disciplines; for example, editors, writers, SEO specialists, designers, etc. The most effective content will be the result of the harmonious interaction of all of these disciplines.

External Collaborator

The best marketers understand that partnering with other players in your industry can help increase your credibility and bring in new perspective. This will result in greater value for your audience, and may even result in you better leveraging your resources.

Innovative

anatomy-innovation

Persistent

Don’t let small obstacles stop you from creating quality content. If you hit a roadblock, keep trying or come up with a new solution.

  • Can’t get an interview with a key source? Track down a contact on LinkedIn that can make an introduction for you.  If you already have their contact information and they’re not responding, keep calling or emailing them.
  • Don’t know how to use Photoshop? Learn it.

Fearless

  • Content marketers cannot be afraid to fail. In the history of content marketing, ideas and technologies have come and gone. The next big trend in content may be something you already thought of, but are afraid to voice your opinion or insight.
  • Take risks. Push the bounds to stand out from the crowd.  If you make mistakes in the process. . .learn from them and move on. Whether it’s an edgier title or a new format, it may help generate more traffic and make your content stand out from other companies in your industry.

Resourceful

Let’s face it, we’ll never have enough money do to everything that we’d like to do in content marketing. The best marketers will make the most of what they have.

  • Don’t have enough time to write? Be resourceful and hire an agency or a freelancer that you trust and will best represent your voice and your audiences’ needs.
  • Having trouble finding the time to write that big ebook? Use PowerPoint slides to get your message across or simply write a long-form blog post.
  • Repurpose content from that great ebook you wrote 6 months ago by creating blog posts, infographics and a SlideShare from the original content.

Do you (or your team as a whole) have every trait of the “dream” content marketer? For more on what employers are looking for when they hire a content marketer, check out these content marketing interview questions.

Still missing a body part? Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this rapidly maturing discipline.  Just remember that happiness is in the journey and not the destination.

michael@curata.com'

Michael is the CMO of Curata. He is responsible for Curata's marketing strategy and all related activities. Michael has over 25 years of marketing and sales experience, having successfully launched and sustained three start-up ventures as well as having driven innovative customer creation strategies for large technology organizations. (e.g., IDC, Kenan Systems, Prospero (mZinga) and Millipore). Michael received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as a BS in Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MS in Engineering from Northeastern University. You can reach him on Twitter at @michaelgerard.

  • http://www.cyberink.co.za Andrew Marshall

    Thanks Michael; great article!

  • BrittBrouse

    I appreciate seeing an engaging infographic here, but combined with the depth of a thorough blog post. Good stuff!

  • http://www.patricia-weber.com Patricia Weber

    Ahhh if only infographics weren’t yet, a blog post within a blog post but instead, like yours, an abbreviated version in graphic form of the content. Thanks for the article.

  • http://www.zappytech.com Sven Markert

    Great article, Michael! Thank you! Did find a small typo for you to correct: the word “Decisions” in Tony Jaros of SiriusDecsions recommends that B2B marketers specifically measure their content based on these three metrics:

    • Michael Gerard

      Thanks Sven. Well, at least the typo was in the metrics sections and not in the “Spelling and Grammer” section. :-) Cheers!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/seanrehder Sean Rehder

    I work in the corporate recruiting world, these same traits apply to recruiting program leaders.

  • http://optilocal.org Nevyana Karakasheva

    Beautiful post, with great visual ideas:)

    I would add an interesting detail (maybe to your skillful writer category): “create a balanced content”, i.e. content that will appeal greatly to the targeted audience (the content should create experiences: identity, inspiration, social involvement, etc.), at the same time it should represent the brand/company in a desired light (the content should reflect the given company vision and values) and finally the contet should be also tailored to the chosen media – if not posted on the company blog (the content should mach the tone and writing style of the specific website).

    So there are three major interests one should meet and that makes for a really skillful content writer (or marketer – if he is to explain the assignment to a selected copy writer).

    Hope you agree:)

    • Michael Gerard

      Excellent points Nevyana. Agreed, skillful writer category would be best for these. You need to create content that will ultimately reflect a brand image that the reader will want to do business with.

  • esta h. singer

    GR8 post Michael! At times so challenging to smoothly define “Content Marketer.” Ability to connect with influencers is big; the ability to build relationships across people sectors (personas) and community groups is also key. My dad grew up in the Bronx; I attended school in Boston – lived there 25 years. Lucky to have both “street-girl” and “polished-girl” inside … I can get in/out/around and through anything. ; )

    • Michael Gerard

      I like your analogy of the “street-girl” and “polished-girl” mix. Quite appropriate from a content marketer perspective. Thanks for sharing Esta!

  • http://sanjose.fortuneinnovations.com/ Serena Wampler

    Really fantastic the way in which it was said in the post. In addition to that I found some overrated marketing trends. I want to know your views about that. Read more @ http://goo.gl/EIaOnF