For years, conventional business wisdom held that bigger is always better: The more people you had on your team, the more you could achieve. But as startup culture has proven, small teams can accomplish a lot, and they can sometimes even be more beneficial. Fewer people tends to mean greater agility, and that ability to pivot and change quickly is key in fast-changing industries like content marketing.
Don't get me wrong; it can be nice to have more hands on deck when you're creating content. But you're not doomed to failure if you have only a handful of people on your team, just as you're not guaranteed success with a huge department.
Content Marketing Institute found that 55 percent of marketers work with small -- even one-person -- content teams. So if you're running a compact content shop, you're in good company. The key to succeeding with fewer people is focusing on productivity and maximizing output through the right processes. Here's how to do that:
1. Adhere to a documented strategy.
A documented content marketing strategy ensures everyone is working toward the same goals and all the materials you create serve a purpose that aligns with your mission, which saves time and eliminates resources wasted on the wrong content.
No two strategies look exactly alike, so start by assessing your goals and where you are in your content journey. When my team and I wrote our first content strategy a few years ago, we focused pretty heavily on figuring out what kind of content creation process would even work for us. As we've grown and evolved, so has our strategy, and our most recent version looks more at data and insights over the specific details of how we actually create content.
If you're just getting started using content to build your brand, you may want to focus on nailing your processes so your team knows what to expect and how to handle projects. Wherever you are on the content spectrum, a strategy that keeps everyone on track and your goals top of mind is going to be helpful.
2. Task your entire team with identifying content triggers.
Meeting your goals requires meeting your audience's needs. Thankfully, people tend to not be shy about saying exactly what they need; your job, then, is to actually listen and create content that addresses those needs.
So train everyone on your team to document the questions, comments, and objections they hear from prospects and clients. Ideally, you'll get your sales team involved as well. What barriers do they hear most often during their sales calls? What are their strongest selling points? Once you know where to look, you'll find ideas everywhere.
Keep your company knowledge bank up-to-date with these content triggers. As people start contributing to it on a regular basis, you'll see patterns emerge in customer interactions, and you can develop longer-term content projects around those insights. When your team spends its resources creating content you know will have a major impact by directly addressing an objection in your sales process, you're maximizing your team's time and talents.
3. Create a universal workflow.
Team members need to speak the same language, especially when they're working in small groups and everyone is responsible for multiple parts of the strategy. Establishing an editorial workflow ensures everyone is on the same page throughout the content creation and distribution process so they can make the most of their time and your content.
To set that workflow in stone and measure the impact of our efforts, my team actually developed content marketing software. Through it, we communicate and collaborate internally and with freelancers to create content, all in one place. Everything we develop for ourselves and our clients, from articles to whitepapers, happens in that system.
This allows our clients, employees, and freelance writers to communicate and share information easily. Having a clearly defined workflow like this eliminates a lot of confusing back-and-forth that sucks time away from more important tasks.
4. Prioritize content distribution.
When you work with a small team, you really need your content to work for you. For that to happen, you've got to make content distribution a priority, not something you think about after it doesn't generate the returns you hoped for.
Adopt a social distribution strategy. Actively promote your articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, and any other content you create, and pay to amplify your best pieces to boost engagement. A small investment to promote an in-depth guide or video on Facebook will pay off in the long term, so experiment with different types of paid promotion. There are plenty of free social media tools that make it easy to prep your posts and track performance.
If your content needs start to outweigh your small team's abilities, you can always look into hiring an outside content marketing agency to partner with and maximize the work you're already doing. An agency can give your team's efforts a solid boost by improving distribution or even outsourcing part of the content creation process, which frees up your team members to focus on their core strengths and create even more value for the company.
However you approach your content marketing process, remember that success is less about size than strategy. With clearly defined goals and a solid workflow, even small teams can achieve big results.