How to Onboard New Content Teams So They Can Succeed with Your Content

So much can go wrong when you don’t empower a writer or a new content team to understand your industry, your standards, and what you expect from them.  If you don’t properly onboard a new team you’ll find that: 

 

  • Revision cycles take forever and you need more of them
  • Writers have loads of questions and can’t get started quickly
  • There’s miscommunication; details are missed
  • Content ends up not being a match for your marketing goals
  • Content doesn’t perform very well
  • Everyone gets frustrated, annoyed, and burned out

A package of references will help make sure they can produce content that matches your business goals. This is what you should prepare and provide:   

 

Style guide 

This document should detail how you want your brand to sound (casual, formal, human, confident, bold, and so on), what punctuation and grammar to use, how to handle capitalization in the title and subtitles, and more examples of do’s and don’ts. (Here’s how to write a style guide). You could take this one step further and provide an editing checklist for a writer to work against when they proof their work. 

 

Corporate terminology list 

This is just a list of the terms and jargon specific to your company, with definitions and examples of what to not use. No need to include industry terms in there because those should be well-known terms. It’s also useful to include acronyms and when/how to use them. And don’t forget to use proper capitalization so your writer can duplicate that. 

 

Branding guidelines 

Sometimes companies collapse this with a style guide but it’s different. This is about how your brand looks and feels.  It should include info about logo usage, color palette, typography, how to use imagery, and a bit about voice and tone. (The latter is the only place you may see the overlap). This is less important for writers, but critical for designers of all kinds.  

 

Any references you want your content team to be aware of should be compiled in a list. For example, top competitors, top thought leaders, any industry references or summaries, or related tutorials or videos. 

 

A written introduction to the company and description of your product/service 

When a writer or an agency is new to your industry, there’s a substantial amount of work involved in coming up to speed. Even if they know the industry they do not know your company and your tool. If you can provide them with a packet of information (solution briefs, positioning guides, messaging documents, or tutorials) it will save them hours of research and provide them with references they can go to over and over again when creating their content. 

 

Access to your project management tool 

I hope you’re already using a PM tool to organize and drive your content calendar and if you’re not you should reach out to me. But, ideally, you can also add your vendor or content developer to the board in order to share decisions, track status, assign owners, and drive your process.  

Along with this, be clear with your writers how you will communicate with them. Teams? Slack? Exclusively in the PM tool? 

 

Fully built buyer personas 

These are crucial for a writer to understand how to write for your audience. A buyer persona informs the type of content you want to create, the tone and style of your content, the level of depth (high level or technical), the topics themselves, and the way you articulate those concepts.    

 

A list of SMEs 

SMEs are a necessary part of a content program and you need to find a few who are happy to talk to the writers (and make it a part of their jobs to do so).  Probably these are product marketers, thought leaders, or practitioners such as account managers or engineers.  These are people who can help build out topics, provide information, and provide reviews.  

 

Creative brief

And finally, for each piece, you need to provide a creative brief guiding them on top points to hit, SEO keywords, title suggestions, and links to include

These are your sections.

  • Topic summary – the gist of what you want the piece to be about
  • Title ideas – these help give them guidance and perhaps you have a title that is mandatory for whatever reason
  • SEO keywords to use – based on research. Ideally a fairly good search volume but low difficulty. 
  • Target audience – which of your target personas are you writing for? 
  • Stage in the funnel – is it an awareness piece, consideration, purchase, or post-purchase? 
  • Byline – who is getting credit for this blog post?
  • Angle – what is it you have to say that’s different in the market? This requires a bit of competitive research.  
  • Key points to make in the post, which can take the form of an outline with SEO-optimized headers and subheaders if you want to take it that far. 
  • Takeaway – what do you want the reader to know/learn/do?
  • Call to action (CTA) – It is ‘contact us’? Subscribe? Book a consult? 
  • Subject matter expert (SME) name and contact
  • References – any links to relevant external content
  • Internal links to use in the post because internal linking is so important 

 

Your content program will run much more smoothly if you spend half a day putting together these resources. 

If you need help with this, contact me here

Also, feel free to download the creative brief for blog posts here. 

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