We like labels.

Spend any time reading comments on YouTube music videos (yes, I have too much time on my hands) and you’ll see pitched battles between genre fascists: ‘You wouldn’t know grime if it came up and smacked you on the bottom, this is UK rap.’ ‘It’s not hardcore you megahead. It’s proto-junglist avant-garde breakcore.’ ‘Get knotted you plonkstain, this has the rhythm of skiffle but is actually jazz folk blues.’

People spend hours arguing the toss because of tempo, drum patterns and vocals.

Labels are helpful to an extent. You don’t want a romantic candlelit dinner spoilt by a playlist that pits industrial gabba against Sade’s greatest hits. A sultry soul collection is far more appealing. But genres can be a negative, too. If people only made ‘rock’ or ‘pop’ or ‘dance’ music, we wouldn’t have half the musical innovation online today.

In marketing, we also tend to silo our activities. ‘Digital’, ‘Inbound’, ‘Outbound’, ‘Experiential’ etc. etc. ad infinitum. The definitions may be clearer, but they can still hinder our thinking.

Inbound marketing – i.e. creating content to attract prospects to your business – has a branding problem. When you position content as ‘inbound’ you define it as a piece of work that will attract someone to you. It will, as the name implies, do the work, draw someone to your site. The site will then do the work to convert them.

But this underestimates the power and potential of that content.

Content is inbound. But it can also be outbound and direct. It can be a reason to connect with that prospect. It can be the piece of work that tips a sale over the edge. It can form part of a pitch deck to clients or become a leave-behind for sales meetings.

This feeds into the real point I want to make: everyone in your business must be thinking content-first. One challenge here is mindset; another is process.

Inbound marketing

Publish a blog a week for 12 months and you’ve created a library of useful content. Outside marketing and the CEO, who else within the business knows it’s there? Do sales? Do the account managers? The web devs?

How many of your team know what you’re talking about on your blog? How many people have easy access to your content resources? How easy are the blogs to find and share?

When it comes to content, every employee is a potential brand ambassador. You just need to arm them with the tools to fly your flag properly.

So…mindset. From the outset you – or your content agency – need to get the team together to explain the inbound marketing plan. Why you’re doing it, how it works, the kind of things you’ll be talking about, the benefit to them. Everything.

You need the whole team to be sold in on the inbound idea. And they need to know what and how they can use the content you produce. Once they know how content works, they’ll start thinking about how they can use this new resource in their daily work.

The hope is this will also spark some thinking, too. A bought-in and engaged workforce will contribute editorial ideas and perhaps even write some bits themselves. The more people engaged in the process, the better the output will be.

The process can differ from company to company, but it’s about how you communicate the content to the team, and how you make it accessible. One simple touch is to send an email to the team letting them know what went up on the blog at the end of each week.

Another is to create a simple spreadsheet of blogs around specific topics. If someone in biz dev has a chat about ROI (for instance), they can head straight to the ROI section, find a relevant piece of content and follow up the call with that piece.

These are small but effective touches that create that warm fuzzy feeling in the prospects’ cold, chiseled hearts.

To summarise, then. Your content is a mashup of genres. Your employees are DJs. You need to make sure their record boxes are organised neatly so they can drop the right tune at the right time to make the crowd go wild.

And if that’s not a clear message, maybe this is…

We do content marketing strategy and creation for knowledge-driven agencies, B2B SaaS providers and membership organisationsLearn more about what we do.

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I’m the Head of Content for Future Content and the man in charge of words. As a former journalist for a number of publications, from Chat to MailOnline to that’s Shanghai, I have a wealth of editorial experience and a way of making words do good.

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