For many small businesses, the idea of content marketing ends up being only that – an idea. But by creating a culture of content marketing, small businesses, from pool companies to accounting firms, can dominate their industry. Marcus Sheridan, founder of The Sales Lion, offered valuable tips for implementing a content marketing culture yesterday, Oct. 10 at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in Boston.

Start with the CEO

“Content marketing stinks unless the CEO is involved,” Sheridan said to a roomful of attendees. The CEO needs to have a dog in the fight, so to speak, for the initiative to take hold.

Conduct a “Why Workshop”

Once you have the buy-in from the top, the company needs to evaluate its purpose for a initiative. All to often, the marketing department (or designated marketing person) will send out a “we need to start blogging” email, which results in absolutely nothing, according to Sheridan. If employees don’t know why, what or how the initiative will work, they won’t buy in to it.

Don’t underestimate your people

To illustrate this point, Sheridan showed a photo of the basement waterproofing team at a small company in Chicago: the average Joes. However, these “average Joes” are the best at teaching about basement waterproofing – and valuable for content.

Don’t say you don’t have anyone who can write

There may not be someone with writing skills on staff, which is why Sheridan suggested hiring someone with a journalism background. It is a worthwhile investment for producing content, he said.

Make content a priority

Create an editorial calendar and make content a priority like payroll, Sheridan recommended. Companies can even make it part of an employee’s job description – but it needs to be a priority.

Keep it simple

Content guidelines need to make it easy for employees to contribute to initiatives: blogging, knowledge bases, email newsletters and other content.

Know the four types of content marketing employees

If you know what types of employees you have and what their strengths are, you can better leverage internal resources:

  1. Writers are willing and able to write content for your company. If you don’t have one of these, you can outsource the writing to someone who can work with the other three types of content creators.
  2. Actors are willing to appear on camera. These are usually the Type A salespeople. Have someone interview them in a Q&A format, then transcribe the interview into text.
  3. ¬†Talkers know your customers and products or services, but they won’t write or appear on camera. Using a writer, companies can interview these employees for multiple pieces of content.
  4. Questioners ask the questions that no one else does. These are usually customer service employees who are on the front lines, and they intimately know the customers’ needs.

Finally, don’t let the culture of content marketing die. Revisit the strategy, have meetings, and continue to foster it.