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7 Things You Need to Have a Productive (and Happy) Content Marketing Team

I love talking and waxing philosophical about productivity. Knowing how we work is so essential if we want to create that resonant content we crave – and feel like we are all making a positive difference.

But I realized recently that I think a lot about my individual productivity instead of the productivity of the team. Of course, working together as a team is ridiculously important – and it’s one of the reasons I’m interested in Agile marketing.

While individual “tricks” continue to be useful, what does your team need to make sure they are working in the best possible way?

This list below is a mix of specific tools as well as more intangible things you need to have so your team can focus on the creation of the work instead of the process behind the work. I realize technologies are missing from this list, but those collaboration and workflow tools will be exceedingly helpful once you have your team and processes.

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Your why

Notice how everything starts with why? It does. And, in this case, your why is your basic strategy for why you are doing the work you are doing and how you are going to measure whether it’s working – or not.

While a strategy can be detailed, your team needs consensus on at least these three things:

  • Who are we educating/helping? (Note: I did not say “targeting,” as your goal should be helping. Creating a persona is one way to do this.)
  • How can we help them in a way in which no one else can? (This is your content tilt.)
  • How will we know we are successful? (These are the business goals for your strategy.) Note: You also need to understand how you’ll measure success and report back to your team.

Documented workflows

Not only do successful teams document their content marketing strategy, but they also document their workflows. If you aren’t familiar with workflows, they are the process your content follows and the people who are needed in its creation and production.

If you’re constantly asking, “who is doing what,” “what do I do next,” or “why is this taking so long,” chances are you need to dig in to your workflow.

A shared understanding of the stories you want to tell

Have you had those conversations with your teammates where you brainstorm on a piece of content? You think you’re all on the same page, but really, you all are thinking something a bit different? If so, I’m sure you can relate to this image:

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My favorite tool to do this is the user story, which I finally understood after attending Andrea Fryrear’s ICC workshop on Agile marketing. Yes, user stories are something Agile teams rely on heavily, but they are useful for any type of team creating content.

Below is an example of a user story – and I highly recommend you read the entire post from Andrea to learn about this handy tool. But, in short, user stories are a way for you to document your content ideas so everyone gets closer to that shared understanding. And, then, even better, you can prioritize these stories and knock them out one at a time.

Problem owners

Do you ever want to scream because someone on your team – or unrelated to your team – has just one more change (and maybe it’s a big one)? Eva Jackson suggests assigning a problem owner to every single project. This is the person who is not only responsible for the piece, but it’s also the person who has the final say.

3 words

One exercise I like to use to get people on the same page is to define the three words you want your editorial to encompass. As many of our spaces are crowded, defining these three words helps you differentiate your brand by deciding how you want to say something.


OK, now we’re moving from the tangible to strategic practicality, but I think these last two elements are just as important as the others.

If you are leading a team, set a good example and don’t answer email all day (and night) – and don’t always put your team’s needs first (I cringe a bit when I say this). But living in your inbox and on your phone isn’t good for anyone. It can be tough for others to unplug if they don’t see their team leader doing this.

Just because you can be available doesn’t mean that you should be. One way to get some much deserved and needed quiet is to set office hours. This is an approach I borrowed from Cal Newport, author of Deep Work. Not only is this a great approach for an individual, but it’s so useful for a team as well. Instead of thinking of any non-meeting time as unscheduled, I now block out chunks of time to write or create presentations. I don’t automatically make myself available — and I encourage others on my team to do the same.


Status reports – snoozer. While status reports may seem like an unnecessary task, they are key to making sure your team continues to make progress on what you decided to work on. Status reports don’t need to be onerous. A simple report keeps your value front and center, and it lets others on the team reap the benefits of what is working well.

As I recently mentioned, I send a monthly update to the CMI team … except for those couple of months when I didn’t. To my surprise, people on the team asked where the reports were. I followed up to ask why these reports are useful and then simplified my format so it was easier for me to create and people received what they wanted.


Over to you, titans of teams. What other things do you think any content marketing team needs to work effectively?

A team that learns and plays together stays together – and there is no better place to do this than at Content Marketing World. The best changes happen when entire teams attend, so ask about our group discounts. You can also catch Michele presenting about how to create your ultimate content marketing team. Register today and use code BLOG100 to get $100 off main registration.

Source: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com


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