As content professionals, we often think about how content can better explain what and why our company does, not to mention how. But, we don’t give the same consideration to our own content team or function. That’s understandable on the surface. Content leaders and teams are strapped for time as they face urgent demands for content that is increasingly sophisticated and compelling. But, I’m convinced that branding and positioning your content team is one of those not-urgent-but-very-important practices that is no longer optional.

Let me share four reasons why I encourage to position your content team. Starting today.

1. Educate Stakeholders Faster + Easier

One of the top 3 challenges that content teams face is educating stakeholders about content. You might think, “Well, we explain what content is, why it’s a business asset, and more.” That might be the case. But, have you taken the next step and put the following together in a compelling package?

  • What content is at your company?
  • Your team’s philosophy and approach to content for your company?
  • Your team’s capabilities and roles explained in terms of benefits to stakeholders?
  • At least one success story?
  • An indication of your team’s vision moving forward?

You see, educating stakeholders about content isn’t just about explaining that content is important. It’s about your team’s function and the specific benefits to your stakeholders. No one else, not even the greatest content thought leader in the universe, can do that for you. When you have not only the value of your content but the value of your team packaged well, you’re ready to tell anyone and everyone. Repeatedly. And, when adults have to be exposed to information at least three times before it sinks in, you increase your chances that your explanation will stick.

2. Encourage Good Stakeholder Behavior—And Prevent the Bad

With content work at large organizations, I often hear complaints about stakeholders and silos. The reality is silos will always exist, and you will never have completely perfect stakeholders. The question is less, “How can I make them disappear?” The question is more, “How can we set ourselves up to succeed despite working with many different people in many different parts of the company?”

Consider branding and positioning your team as a big part of the answer. Surprising? Let me explain.

In many sports, the best defense is a good offense. The same goes here. When you proactively set the tone, culture, and way of working with your team, you establish momentum that good stakeholders will appreciate and that difficult stakeholders cannot easily counter. If you look like you have your “stuff” together as a team, stakeholders will be less likely to question the fundamentals of your approach and more likely to engage with you on specific projects.

Even more practically, your stakeholders need to be told how to work with you. Your stakeholders are as busy as you are and cannot yet read minds. That means as part of packaging who your team is and why you do what you do, you need to address the fundamentals of how to engage with your team. We have conducted numerous surveys with stakeholders on behalf of content teams, and it’s amazing how often the process to engage with the content team is unclear or unknown. This starts with basics such as giving your team a name that stakeholders can actually remember (not human resources mumbo jumbo or content and design jargon) and a clear point of contact to start engaging. Don’t make the behavior you want from your stakeholders a perplexing mystery.

When you worry less about “fixing” your imperfect stakeholders and more about how to position your team to operate successfully with them, you encourage the right stakeholder behavior and ward off the wrong behavior.

3. Rocket Launch Your Content Team’s Engagement

Getting your team involved in defining your name, philosophy, principles, vision, ways of working, and more will make your team’s engagement skyrocket. Your team members also will feel more ownership over their contribution to the team and more responsibility for upholding the philosophy and principles. We know that employee engagement correlates with employee satisfaction and retention, so keeping great people on your team requires branding and positioning your team. You also will enjoy a range of other benefits to your content operations including but not limited to

  • Team members giving correct answers consistently to questions from stakeholders, which amplifies the benefits of 1 and 2 above.
  • Team members following processes appropriately and consistently, which boosts efficiency.
  • Team members using common vocabulary for content-related work, which makes conversations with stakeholders and executives more productive.
  • Team members feeling empowered to advocate for effective content decisions, which leads to better results for everyone.
  • Team members spending less time and energy on figuring out basic processes and more time and energy on solving complex problems or advancing innovative initiatives.

Your branding and positioning will evolve over time, so even people who join your team after you establish the initial branding and positioning can contribute. And having a foundation in place will make onboarding new team members much easier, not to mention fun.

4. Attract the Right Advocates + Talent

Branding and positioning your content team is the cornerstone of your content team culture. Your culture will attract people, whether it’s new members of your team or stakeholder and executive partners. Proactively defining your brand and position increases the chances you will interest the right talent and advocates who will be more likely to bring your content vision to life.

Are you convinced that branding and positioning your content team is important? Even very important? If so, then you’re probably wondering how to start. (I like the way you think.) You’ll find more resources to do exactly that here over the coming weeks and in our training in person or online. The best part? These resources and trainings are inspired not only by our experience at Content Science but also on best practices uncovered in our latest study of content leadership and operations. While you will need to explore what works best for your specific situation, our resources will help you make progress.

The Author

Colleen Jones is the author of The Content Advantage and founder of Content Science, a content intelligence and strategy firm that has advised or trained hundreds of the world’s leading organizations since 2010. She also is the former head of content at MailChimp, the marketing platform recognized by Inc. as 2017 Company of the Year. A passionate entrepreneur, Colleen has led Content Science to develop the  content intelligence software ContentWRX, publish the online magazine Content Science Review, and offer online certifications through Content Science Academy.

Colleen has earned recognition as an instructor on LinkedIn Learning, one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Content Marketing by a TopRank study, a Content Change Agent by Society of Technical Communication’s Intercom Magazine, and one of the Top 50 Most Influential Content Strategists by multiple organizations.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @leenjones or on LinkedIn.

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