“Communication is key.” Let’s update this old adage for the internet age, “collaboration is key,” and nowhere more so than on a content marketing team. The creativity and innovation needed in this field is best fostered on teams, and success depends on working well together.
Attracting new clients through targeted content is a process that takes a wide range of talents.
From finding the right audience, generating ideas for content, creating shareable and accessible content, and publishing the content in attractive ways, it’s difficult for one person to do it all themselves, nor should they.
In short, finding creative ways to promote your brand should be a team effort.
The creative nature of content marketing means that working well together with colleagues can set your team apart from the competition.
When team members on content marketing teams are working together towards a common goal, rather than individually or at odds, your chances of success increase dramatically.
In fact, there is a large body of evidence that demonstrates that, when done right, collaboration can drive workplace performance. And yet despite this, only 3 out of 10 workers in Europe and the US are satisfied with the level of collaboration at their place of work.
And thus we come to the contradiction at hand. We know collaboration is crucial, particularly for highly creative fields like content marketing, and yet most companies aren’t good at it.
This begs the question: What can you do to boost your content marketing team’s collaboration?
1. Understand the Problem
Before trying to change something like your team’s collaboration level, you need to first diagnose why your team isn’t currently meeting its full collaboration potential.
While there are likely unique factors for every team depending on the cultural context, personalities of team members and organizational history, content marketing teams do face some common challenges.
Content marketing tends to attract highly capable talent and independent thinkers, which could lead to a ‘go it alone’ attitude.
On your team, you likely have team members who are highly specialized in one particular area of the marketing process. The challenge comes when such team members enter into ‘siloes,’ meaning they focus only on their immediate responsibilities and exclude others.
Other challenges may come from the fact that team members don’t have a good understanding of what constitutes effective collaboration in the content marketing field.
As mentioned above, not many companies do this well. It can be difficult to imagine something you’ve never seen firsthand.
Understanding this type of challenge is the first step to helping you and your team overcome it. Spend time discussing as a group and reflecting on how you work together and why.
This will fill in the current picture and give you a good base to start with on your road to improvement.
2. Set Clear Goals
Now that you have alignment within your team on where you are at in terms of collaboration, it’s time to set goals.
Knowing exactly what you are trying to accomplish is a great way to keep your team aligned.
Are you currently working on your collaboration to:
- Increase sales overall?
- Generate new leads on potential customers?
- Expand and/or improve your brand image?
It’s also a good idea to have a specific goal for your collaboration in general. For example, a reduction in the amount of missed team deadlines, an increase in team satisfaction with collaboration, or an increase in the amount of group projects within the team.
Knowing what’s at the end of your efforts will help your team put those efforts in context. Of course the examples above are very general.
The best goals are SMART, so make sure your goals are:
- Specific – How focused is this goal?
- Measurable – How will you know you’ve accomplished your goal?
- Achievable – Can your team actually accomplish this goal?
- Realistic – How likely is it that your team can accomplish this goal?
- Time-bound – When will your team accomplish this goal?
By creating your team goals this way, you will be able to create an environment where your team will know that its efforts are paying off and leading to real change.
Of course, goals aren’t enough on their own. You also need a plan.
3. Take Time to Create a Plan
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
There’s a lot of wisdom in these words, particularly when you’re dealing with something as complex as changing your team’s culture.
Ultimately, to ensure you accomplish the change in collaboration that you’re looking for, you need to take the time to plan. Coming up with a clear idea of how you will achieve the goals you’ve set for yourselves is absolutely essential.
It’s important to not focus too much on the final product itself. The process of planning itself is often what brings the most benefit, particularly if you approach this process as a collaborative one.
In other words, planning is indispensable. But given how fluid team dynamics are, particularly in content marketing, you may find that your plans need to be regularly changed.
Embrace this need for change by making your planning an ongoing effort. Quarterly or biannual planning reviews are great for setting team goals and for reflecting on and planning for team collaboration.
Creating a culture of joint team planning is a great way to increase overall collaboration.
4. Boost Your Communication
The strength of collaboration often depends on the ease of communication. How does your team usually communicate?
Is it easy for team members to reach out to each other with a new idea for a blog post or a thought on how to generate new leads?
If it’s difficult for colleagues to reach out to each other, or gather at a regular basis for discussions, it’s unlikely that they’ll effectively collaborate.
So make sure that your team has clear lines of communication. This could include both the physical environment and team policies and procedures.
A few ideas in this area include:
- Open door policies that encourage team members to communicate regularly.
- Clear practices for how and when team members can communicate.
- Regular time and space for meetings.
- Some physical office space for informal and formal meetings.
- The right tools to communicate remotely.
While the specific needs of your team will ultimately determine exactly what steps you’ll need to take, creating the necessary conditions for communication will certainly help boost collaboration.
5. Clear Up Your Collaboration Tools
Once you have a plan, it’s time to think about the tools that will help you accomplish your collaboration goals. Be careful not to make the common mistake of reversing this order and trying to first choose a tool to solve all of your problems.
Without your own vision for team collaboration, you’ll inevitably be disappointed with the results.
The best collaboration tools will allow your team members to easily share content, ideas, and leads.
So focus on the features that the collaboration tool provides to meet your team needs. As a start, you can poll your team members to ask them directly what they’ll need to best accomplish their collaborative work.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools on the market, so you’ll likely find something that meets your team’s needs if you take the time to do the research.
6. Create Collaboration Routines
When you want to make something a standard practice, it’s important to begin by setting clear routines. Making things routine is the best way to build habits, which in turn become daily practice.
Start this cycle by creating set routines for your team’s collaboration.
This could include:
- Weekly content brainstorming sessions
- Regular check-ins and team meetings
- Recurring informal team building events
These are just a few of the routines that can help you begin building collaboration habits. When making your final choice, make sure not to forget the rest of your business.
Your marketing team doesn’t live in a silo, so pay attention to inter-office communication as well. Collaboration across your entire organization will ultimately lead to the best results.
7. Reflect, Reconfigure, Repeat
Content marketing is a dynamic field, requiring quick responses to new trends and information to produce and market the most relevant content for the right audience.
In such an environment, there needs to be a certain level of flexibility in your approach.
While much of the advice above focuses on creating goals, plans and procedures, the idea is not to make things within your team so rigid that team members feel that they’re suffocating.
Try to keep whatever plans and strategies you come up with for your team open to further discussion and feedback. Boosting collaboration should be a process mirroring how you want your team to work together, i.e. collaborative.
It’s best to not think of collaboration as an end state, but rather a work in constant progress. Create a call to action for your own content marketing team and challenge them to think of ways to boost collaboration.
Making this a fun and rewarding process is the best way to get your team on board.
Let’s finish with one more quote that captures the essence of what you’re trying to accomplish with your content marketing team:
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan
Much like in team sports, collaboration is truly key in content marketing.
By following the advice above you will be able to create the conditions for doing so by first diagnosing your team’s collaboration, and then strategically finding ways to improve it.
Once this is done, expect to see results. And if you have any advice for boosting team collaboration, please share below!
How Do You Get a Marketing Team to Collaborate?
If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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