Do You Already Have Hidden Content Talent In-house?
It’s so easy to define employees by their titles and their current roles. You’ve got sales and service reps, people in prepress, a whole range of experts in manufacturing, planners and estimators, office staff handling accounts payable, IT specialists, maybe creative, and the management team.
You may even be quite the modern printing company and have a marketing staff. Most printers I know that do have on-staff marketing have one person in that role. But no matter how talented he or she might be, there’s no way that one person can churn out enough good content to satisfy the voracious, multiple marketing channels that printers should be using to promote their businesses.
Just think of the most commonly tapped tools used by printers: Website, direct mail, e-mail, advertising, mobile, and social, where you’ve got Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest, for starters.
A one-person marketing department can’t be expected to create and deliver high-quality content for all of the places you need to be seen in.
So you have a few choices for developing all of this important content. You could simply focus on the few channels where your marketing person is most skilled; this could be writing direct marketing materials, writing posts for online publications and writing a company blog. You can stick with this limited plan and see how effective these efforts are in getting more attention from solid prospects.
Or you could outsource some of your content marketing assignments to people who specialize in it, finding one or two who are pros in specific channels, like e-mail marketing or social media marketing. That’s how people like me make our living, but we require a liaison at your firm, because we can’t work in a vacuum. You need to be aware of that. You provide varying levels of oversight, inspiration, direction and education to outsourced content providers.
Talent Right in Front of You
And then there’s a whole other option many companies don’t even consider: their employees. How can you be sure you don’t have hidden content marketing talent right in your own company?
- What if your receptionist has been writing her own personal blog for three years, and it’s effortless, well-written and entertaining?
- What if one of your bindery operators has been producing funny videos with two of his buddies, and they’re pretty professional looking?
- What if one of your sales reps is a born comedian, doing stand up on most weekends and growing his or her following?
- What if someone in customer service has been quietly sending the most heartfelt e-mail communications to a few of her customers who need more education than most, in which she gives them “print basics” to make them better at their jobs?
These are hypothetical “what ifs,” but I have little doubt that inside every company are undetected creative talents. They’re buried because they’re not required for the positions your employees hold. They’re unknown because managers haven’t taken the time to get to know what employees’ passions and favorite hobbies are. They’re hidden in plain sight, and they’re there to be tapped.
I came across an interesting read in TechRepublic on this subject a few weeks ago (http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-decision-maker/find-the-hidden-talent-in-your-organization/), in which author Patrick Gray calls this hidden talent the “ultimate organizational resource.” Another terrific post by Harvey Mackay on Inc.com addresses the same issue (http://www.inc.com/harvey-mackay/how-to-find-employees-hidden-talents.html). Both (and there are plenty more online) support my instincts that there are talents inside every company that can be put to good use for the good of the company.
Managers should make a point of talking to their team members to find out what talents they have and what they’re passionate about outside of work. You could also ask all staff members point blank, in an employee e-mail, on a bulletin board, or in a company-wide meeting. Explain that you want to expand your audience in more channels, toss a few ideas out there, and ask who has a knack for and a track record in any of them.
If only my bosses had jumped on this notion back in the ’80s (but there was only direct marketing and broadcast advertising back then, right?), I might’ve launched my writing career all those years ago. In fairness, my SVP Roger frequently told me how well I wrote. Decades later, I still remember his praise—and would’ve written more for that company had they asked. (As a print buyer, it wasn’t part of my duties. I was a print procurer. End of story.)
Should you find out that any of your employees have talents that fit your need, there’s a lot to be decided. Would they be interested in contributing in this new way? How much time would it take? How often would you expect them to contribute? Would it detract from their current responsibilities? Who would be managing them in their new part-time roles?
Keep in mind that this isn’t about piling on new duties, or making staff members feel like they have to contribute content for marketing purposes. It’s about discovering natural aptitudes in your employees for things like blogging, photography, posting on Twitter or Facebook, making videos—even WordPress skills, if that’s something you value and need.
How you incentivize these employees is up to you. Do they earn additional compensation? Is it a natural extension of their current role? Would recognition in other public ways suffice? Would they do it because they love it (as I did writing)?
If you take the time to “look within” and find out more about your employees, you just might find your company blogger, or video producer, or photographer, or social media maven.
Your reach expands exponentially, and your employees are happier because they get to do something they really love. PI
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com