By Ann Gynn published October 28, 2020 Est Read Time: 8 min

How to Get Big Results From Small Content Marketing Teams

Most content marketing teams are small.

About half of B2B and B2C marketers report content teams of one or fewer full-time employees, according to CMI’s annual research.

With few hands on the content marketing deck, everything your team does should perform.

Put these three tips into practice to get results – no matter how many people you have (or don’t have) on your content marketing team.

1. Document your content marketing strategy on a single page

If you’re a frequent reader of Content Marketing Institute articles, you know what I’m about to say. A documented content marketing strategy differentiates the most successful from the least successful content marketing programs, according to the research.

Too often, teams jump right into creating, distributing, and (sometimes) promoting content without pausing to build (and write down) a strategy. And some small teams think writing down a strategy isn’t necessary because they already know what it is.

Those lines of thinking, though, result in time-sucking, ineffective content marketing. Think of it like driving to an unfamiliar destination without a map or GPS. You might get there, but you’ll probably waste time on unnecessary turns, stops to ask for directions, and backtracking.

Failing to write down your strategy results in time-sucking, ineffective #ContentMarketing, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

You must write down a content marketing strategy, but it does not have to take a lot of time. Answer these simple questions to create a one-page strategy (it’s OK if it takes up the front and back of a page):

  • What are your business’s purpose and goals?
  • Who is in your target audience? What are their interests and needs?
  • What are your content marketing objectives? What do you want your audience to know, think, or do?
  • What are your primary content topics? This is where your industry and business subjects overlap with your audience’s interests and needs.
  • What type of content do you create? Identify the formats possible within your content marketing program such as blogs, videos, infographics, social media, etc.
  • Where will you publish this content?
  • At what frequency will you create and publish this content? (Be realistic. It’s better to increase frequency than to decrease it down the road.)
  • What are the measurable goals for your content marketing program? Translate your content marketing objectives into quantifiable measures of success. Don’t forget to include a time frame to complete each objective.

For the fictitious Safe at Home Brand, a one-page strategy might look like this:

Documenting the content marketing strategy is a huge step, but don’t stop there. Make sure to post it somewhere so you see it every day. Distribute it to all stakeholders. Then, add check-in appointments to your calendar based on your time frame to see if it’s working (or what isn’t working). Also review your goals and objectives again based on internal triggers (e.g., a new business direction) and external triggers (e.g., COVID-19).

2. Make the most of the content you’re creating

You work hard to create the content. Here’s how to make that content work harder for you.

Break it into smaller pieces

Emily King detailed how her company atomized its content in the article How to Atomize 1 Killer Piece of Content into 10.

They took an exclusive e-newsletter article and turned it into 10 pieces of content – some that required no additional work and some that required more effort. It still took less time and used fewer resources than if they had created 10 content items from scratch.

Here’s a visual representation of what they did:

In the planning stage, think about what the best content you can create for your audience is – and how you can turn that into multiple additional pieces. You can do that by answering these questions:

  • What topic would resonate best with our target audience?
  • What unique angle could we take?
  • Who would be the sources?
  • What would be the central piece of content?
  • What other content could be created from it?
  • What additional work would need to be done to create the other pieces?
In the planning stage, think about how you can turn one piece of #content into multiple pieces, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

The last question is critical to efficient content creation. For example, let’s say you decide to create a long-form article as your central piece and create a five-minute video from it. If you plan for it, you know that when you conduct interviews for the article you also should record them for video. If you hit on the video idea after writing the content, you’d have to go back and ask the source for a second interview.

Repurpose your content

If you follow the Pareto principle, 20% of your content delivers 80% of your results. Your percentages may not be exactly that, but I bet the concept does apply to your content marketing: Some of your content delivers big, but most of it does not.

Do more with the content that delivers big. These questions will help you figure out what to do and how to do it:

  • Which content performed well?
  • What format is it in?
  • Should it be republished as is?
  • How could it be updated or tweaked to be current and relevant?
  • How could it be repackaged for additional channels?

The Content Marketing Institute blog follows this repurposing practice in several ways.

Articles that perform well – and are still relevant – return to the blog a year or so later with the label “By Popular Demand.” These articles are updated as necessary (e.g., add more recent statistics, correct titles for source, replace outdated links).

CMI knows its audience responds to “best-of” content. At least once a year, the team curates a new article with excerpts from recent top-performing articles. Most recently, we created new articles with tips and ideas from the top five pieces in several content categories.

Finally, you can extend the reach of your event content to a new or expanded audience. CMI takes some of its in-person and virtual events and turns them into blog posts. Writers watch the sessions or read the transcripts, then add their own context and perspective. For example, Dennis Shiao made Michaela Alexis’ 2019 Content Marketing World session the basis of this blog post:

3. Put it all together

Processes and workflows rarely excite creative content marketers. Yet, establishing a few systems should give you more time to spend on creative development (or other tasks that are more interesting to you).

Make a master tracker

If you have an editorial calendar, that’s a great step. If you create a master tracker – an editorial calendar on steroids – that’s even better.

Documenting your process, from content ideas through publication, in one place – and making it accessible to all stakeholders – saves time. You won’t have to dig through emails or other messages to figure out what’s been done, what still needs to be done, and how effective it is.

Your master tracker should include:

  • Production process (assignments, reviews, approvals, deadlines)
  • Related content elements (keywords, headlines, metadata, etc.)
  • Goals and metrics (dated and updated regularly)

Create all related content at once

You’ve finished the article, infographic, or video. But that isn’t the end of your content creation. You’re still going to need a headline, meta description, calls to action, etc. Write all those content accoutrements when you create the original piece.

Write your headline, meta description, call to action, etc. at the same time you create the #content, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Your related content elements could include:

  • SEO-focused URL (keywords)
  • Headline
  • Meta description
  • Tweets
  • Social media headline options
  • Call to action
  • Preview text that appears in an email
  • Excerpt for newsletter

It makes sense to create all of this right away. You’re already in the mindset of that content – the topic, the purpose, the interesting sentences, etc. If you wait to do the related content elements, you likely will have to reread or view the original piece.

Save time and sanity

Making your small content marketing team even mightier requires creating a maximizing framework. By creating a one-page strategy, doing more with the content you’re already creating, and developing one-stop implementation resources, you’ll save time, keep your sanity, and deliver bigger results for your business.

You can watch Ann Gynn’s presentation that led to this article, or 4 Steps to Writing Faster, with Content Marketing World on demand. You get access to all the breakout sessions and keynote speakers from CMI’s biggest event of the year. Sign up today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Ann Gynn

Ann Gynn edits the CMI blog. Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves. Follow Ann on Twitter @anngynn or connect on LinkedIn.

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