When companies first decide to ramp up content marketing, enthusiasm is through the roof. Young go-getters see opportunities to gain visibility and recognition, both in the company and their industries. They churn out articles, ebooks and infographics with the crazed determination of a honey badger. Meanwhile, senior staff begrudgingly works content creation into their schedules. Sometimes they get why they’re doing it. Other times they don’t.
Fast-forward a few weeks or months. Everyone’s super busy doing the day-to-day stuff, focusing on high-priority deliverables. Guess what gets pushed to the backburner? Anything non-billable, including the content you need. In addition to writing, editing, reviewing and proofing what does come in, you’re balancing a full workload and are now tasked with getting content marketing back on track.
Don’t panic. A few incentives may turn things around. The following are a few ways I’ve succeeded in motivating the unmotivated.
You appreciate getting content and the time your colleagues put into creating it, so why not let them know every once in a while? This is especially important for people who don’t have writing in their job descriptions.
No need for grand gestures. For a while I was offering chocolate in exchange for articles. It started innocently enough, with those miniature chocolate bars you give out for Halloween. When schedules were particularly tight, I would up my game to full-size. It worked for a lot of people, but one of my contributors just wasn’t biting. Turns out, she wasn’t a huge fan of chocolate. What she did like was cheese. And we had a Trader Joe’s right across the street. Problem solved.
In the interest of full disclosure, our Operations Manager here at Suite Seven bought me “the good coffee” in exchange for this article. Point is, get to know what your writers like and send a little something thoughtful their way to recognize any extra effort they’ve pitched in to help your team.
Scratch their backs
Writers need to trust editors to make content better. If they feel their work is being butchered, subsequent articles are a no-go. Promise you’ll assign their preferred copy editor or proofreader to do the work – but only if they hit their deadline. That can make all the difference.
Squat at their desk, office or cubicle
Avoidance is next to impossible when someone has to physically look you in the eye. Be in their space when they return from a meeting and ask in person for an ETA on the content. Be forewarned – many people find this a bit intimidating. You can be assertive and still be polite about it.
Exercise behind-the-scenes diplomacy
When deadlines are slipping, it’s okay to tell the boss. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way. The conversation you want to have is around empowering the employee to write by shifting some of their other work. Do NOT raise a red flag unnecessarily, be a tattletale or point fingers to get anyone in trouble. Your goal is to be supportive. You need these folks on your side for the long haul.
Bring your numbers to the table
What happens if your premium content performs best on Tuesday, but you’re not getting what you need until Wednesday? Perhaps that juicy ebook you planned to offer in the monthly newsletter was given the “low priority” kiss of death. It’s worth taking a few minutes to show internal teams that content marketing is working for your company and share which tactics are most effective.
Request a few minutes on the big monthly meeting schedule and email a weekly performance snapshot. Sometimes hard data is all it takes to convince the skeptics and reinvigorate the believers, and you’re pulling the reports anyway.
Don’t force it
If someone’s on the schedule to write for the blog but struggling with the topic, give them an out. Start talking about what you were hoping to get out of the post and let them poke holes in the idea. A fully baked article will often emerge from the conversation with a knowledgeable, passionate perspective.
Finally, keep in mind that not everyone is a writer. If you find yourself consistently investing too much time editing or rewriting someone’s work, don’t give him or her any more writing assignments. It’s a lot less frustrating for everyone and causes fewer hurt feelings.