“What roles do I need to be successful with a content marketing approach?”
Several years ago, I started thinking about how to categorize content marketing roles. Given so many moving parts in effective content marketing programs, it’s imperative that everyone involved knows who is responsible for each task, and that all the most essential tasks are documented in your content marketing strategy.
I originally wrote this post a few years ago to answer one of the most frequently asked questions I heard from large enterprises and large “small” businesses. Though progress has been made in structuring content-focused marketing teams, too many organizations still use traditional marketing teams to tell stories to create and sustain business opportunities.
Our call to arms still centers on creating and growing owned audiences, and it’s clear that our marketing teams may be, well, a bit too dated to keep us competitive over the next decade.
Our marketing departments are too dated to keep us competitive over the next decade says @joepulizzi.
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While there is no perfect structure for a marketing organization, it’s apparent that marketing departments are transforming themselves into publishing organizations. And with that transformation comes a shift in the key business roles that marketers must now fill.
NOTE: Don’t think of the list below as new job titles, per se, but rather as the core competencies that need to be accounted for across the enterprise.
1. Chief content officer
This is your content ambassador, also known as an organization’s chief storyteller. This person should be responsible for setting the overall editorial/content marketing mission statement and integrating all of your content. As every silo (PR, email, social, search, etc.) starts to create and curate content, it is the CCO’s responsibility to make sure that the stories remain consistent and make sense to the audience(s).
In addition, the CCO must understand how the stories translate into results that address the organization’s business issues (e.g., driving sales, saving costs, or creating more loyal customers).
2. Managing editor
Half storyteller and half project manager, the managing editor executes the content plan on behalf of the CCO. Whereas the CCO focuses on strategy, the managing editor’s job is all execution, working with the roles below to make the stories come alive (including tone, style guides, and content scheduling).
3. Chief listening officer
The CLO functions as the air-traffic controller for social media and your other content channels. This person should listen to the groups, maintain the conversation, and route (and/or notify) the appropriate team members who can engage in appropriate conversations (customer service, sales, marketing, etc.). This feedback mechanism is critical to your content actually making a difference for your customers. The CLO also needs to keep tabs on how the content is performing on owned media sites (like a blog), and get that intelligence back to the CCO and managing editor.
4. Director of audience
The director of audience should be charged with monitoring your audience (buyer personas), making sure all content creators are intimately familiar with the audience members’ characteristics, their passion triggers, and what actions you want them to take. The director of audience should also be responsible for building subscription assets (direct mail lists, email lists, social media) that can grow and be segmented as your content mission matures and expands. If it makes sense, this person can also oversee the marketing-automation platform for your organization.
Prepare to be Ignored if You Don’t Have Subscription Goals
5. HR for marketing
As every employee and stakeholder becomes a more integral part of the marketing process, it is increasingly necessary for marketing to work closely with human resources to make sure that employees understand their roles in the marketing process and to help your organization leverage your employee audiences without creating conflicts or confusion.
Marketing and HR begin to heavily overlap as employee performance becomes increasingly tied to marketing (i.e., in the form of content performance).
6. Channel master
Wherever your content is headed (social media, email, mobile, print, in-person, etc.), the channel master is responsible for getting the most out of each channel. What works best on SlideShare? When should you send your emails, and how frequently? What is the ratio of owned vs. curated content to distribute on Twitter? Who keeps track of mobile strategy and execution? Your team will look to the channel master for these and other answers.
This person also should be responsible for curating the current content assets for distribution.
7. Chief technologist
Given the convergence of marketing and information technology, you need at least one (maybe more) individual whose sole purpose is to leverage the proper use of technologies in the content marketing process. The person is responsible for staying on top of these ever-increasing changes as they relate to the storytelling process — from calendaring and approvals to marketing automation, freelancer integration, and emerging technologies.
This role could be combined with the channel master if you have a small company, but larger enterprises will likely need to keep the two functions distinct.
8. Influencer relations
The role formerly known as media relations has evolved into a manager of influencers. This person’s responsibilities should include developing your hit list of influencers, maintaining direct relationships with them, and integrating them into your marketing process in the most impactful ways.
An 8-Step Process to Use Influencers to Elevate Your Brand
9. Freelancer and agency relations
As content demands continue to evolve (and increase), your organization’s reliance on freelance talent and other external content vendors will grow. Organizations need to cultivate their own expert content teams and networks, and it is this person’s job to negotiate rates and responsibilities so that all members of your team are united in their work on behalf of your marketing program.
I see this role evolving out of the “procurement” department, but with a larger focus outside of financial issues.
10. ROO (Return-on-objective) chief
This person is responsible for ensuring an ongoing return on marketing objectives and communicating why your business is developing content assets in the first place. Do you have an analytics person in your organization? If so, give that individual a raise and make sure he or she understands the core objectives behind your content marketing. The person in this role is the CCO’s best friend.
Yes, we are selling products and services, but the way in which we do that is changing faster than we ever anticipated. This means focusing on content as an asset, which, in turn, means that our marketing departments will continue to evolve. Putting the above roles in place now will help make sure the rest of your enterprise is prepared to evolve right along with them.
What additional roles are you seeing emerge on the marketing landscape? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute