Not Possible to Have a Full Team of In-house Content Producers, Explains Melisse Lombard
The quality over quantity debate has been a long-drawn one in the history of content. Content marketers constantly struggle with the very idea of putting out a whole host of content that may not necessarily meet their quality standards, but need to be out there potentially due to lack of time or resources or for the simple matter of scaling up faster than before.
Melisse Lombard, Content Marketer at Sound Off A Cappella, talks to Anirudh Singla, Founder & CEO, of Pepper Content, about this dilemma and much more.
1. How's your journey been with content? What really got you into this space?
I was a content marketer before that was ever in my title. I started out working at Nickelodeon about 17 years ago. I was part of the digital ad sales team there and worked directly with the director of sales strategy and brand integration. I was responsible for creating sales enablement content; content that hyped our digital properties and that our sales reps could then take out and use to sell ad space. So it highlighted all the opportunities for someone who is buying that space.
That got me thinking about audiences and creating content that supported a business. But then, I had always wanted to be a journalist, so I went to journalism school, got a degree in broadcast journalism, and was a video journalist for several years at Newswire. That role involved reporting, telling stories, pitching stories, interviewing people, shooting, editing, writing, producing, etc. It gave me a sense of storytelling and an idea of how content is all about people. And together, they propelled me further into the world of content. I moved to communications at a school where I was producing content for fundraising.
I moved on to become a content manager at a travel tech company, and really kind of moved more into the tech space overall. Over time, I ended up directing teams across different organizations.
For a long time, content marketing was just a tool to attract people to whatever destination you were trying to get them to. But now, we are coming to understand that content is also what keeps people there. It's what drives relationships and keeps the audience loyal to the brand.
2. Where would you put content marketing as a function?
I am not a fan of bucketing because I feel content touches every part of a business. Some of the smartest content marketers are thinking about how that one piece of content can extend across the business in many different ways. Content drives demand, thought leadership, and brand marketing. It can function like a superpower for a business if it's done well.
3. So what is your thought process when it comes to the quality vs. quantity debate?
I'm definitely a quality-over-quantity person. That's my philosophy. I think if you're producing a lot of content, but the quality's not there, there's no point. It's not going to have the same impact. You can produce one piece that generates more of an impact than a ton of pieces that are not done well. You can also extract additional content from that one high-quality piece that you produced.
4. What's your framework when it comes to building in-house teams versus building freelance or external teams?
I think in an ideal world, you'd have in-house producers because they're more embedded with the business. They are well-versed in its intricacies and quirks and have information one might not have if they weren’t privy to certain meetings and workshops.
That said, I have very rarely throughout my career had a situation where I had a full team of in-house content producers. That's just not possible for most content marketers. I've worked with some amazing freelancers and I aim to bring them into the fold as much as possible so that they get some flavor of the in-house experience and are able to kind of pick up on some of those nuances that they would more naturally have where they are in-house.
I am also a big fan of structure in the background, which includes building a set of tools, and a playbook that freelancers can rely on. At my previous company, we had a code of content that basically outlined our standards for all of our content. This included a style guide and a robust brief template. We were pretty structured. We had two editorial stand-ups a week where we went through briefs, reviewed them, outlined our goals, and ensured our writers were meeting our standards.
I think you’ve got to give everyone—both in-house teams and freelancers—the tools that they need.
5. If I were to ask you what would the perfect Salesforce-like software for content marketing include, what would you say?
It's funny because the content marketing tech stack has always been pretty long and fragmented. You're always using so many different tools. Even just on the measurement side, it's so challenging to try to bring all that data together.
So here goes. I think, first of all, you need something to plan content in. You need forms to gather inputs from stakeholders. You could have your content calendar in there and then sync everyone on your team, whether they are in-house or freelance. It can include an AI writing assistant and a whole host of SEO tools. Obviously, we’d need Google Analytics. A system to input all the data you gather from measuring your social channels or any of your other demand channels.
Ideally, you want everything to plug in together and work seamlessly. The software should also have the capacity to perform reviews and give feedback. I think it's a pretty complex mix of tools that fuel the marketing engine.
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