How to Build a Content Engine that Sparks Radical Growth at B2B Tech Startups
Part #3: The Full-Stack Content Marketing (FSCM) Playbook
Welcome to a subscriber-only of the Content Captains Newsletter where I answer your questions about creating content, generating traction, and becoming a full-stack content marketer.
The Full-Stack Content Marketing (FSCM) Playbook:
Section I: Foundational Knowledge
Part #3: How to Build a Content Engine that Sparks Radical Growth at B2B Tech Startups (This Post)
You must always keep in mind you create content both as a service center for all go-to-market (GTM) teams and as a strategic driver to accomplish your marketing-specific goals.
Managing your day-to-day work is only part of your job, you must also learn how to navigate fires, content sprints, and special projects—all running in tandem.
Every content engine is made up of three components: internal resources, external resources, and standard operating procedures (SOPs); you must know how to leverage each component individually and together to succeed.
You cannot get bogged down by perfectionism in full-stack content marketing, instead, you must embrace a “ship it at 80% and iterate” mentality.
No one cares how hard you work on a project, they just care about it’s impact, and that’s why you must pay special attention to the first- and last-10% of each project.
Knowing how to create an adaptable content engine is what will make or break your content marketing performance.
The content marketing function serves internal stakeholders across various departments.
From marketing teams like demand generation and product marketing to cross-functional teams like sales, customer success, and partnerships, your role as a full-stack content marketer is equal parts service- and strategy-based. You need to balance both incoming requests and your marketing-specific project commits. That’s a lot to handle.
But that’s not all. You also need to leave room for content sprints and special projects, all while managing your day-to-day work effectively. And that’s not even including the random fires you’ll deal with at any given moment like web page errors or gated asset typos. The list just grows and grows.
The good news is there’s a path forward: your content engine. When you shift the way you see content creation from one-off individual project requests and zoom out to see your processes like components of a well-oiled machine, you’ll begin to approach your work far more methodically. And you’ll notice how you can improve processes or alleviate bottlenecks to increase your output.
Because contrary to what other content marketers may tell you, there is no room for excuses in content marketing at B2B tech startups. When someone needs something, they need it now. And if you’re unwilling to adapt to that type of deadline driven workflow, you’ll have a tough time in this industry.
Now, that isn’t to say that the sole purpose of building your content engine is to take orders all day. But what I’m saying is that to create content that sparks growth (for all teams) you need to create a content engine that allows you to deliver on the inevitable high-priority requests while creating the content you need to accomplish your marketing-specific goals. It’s a push and pull.
That’s why in today’s post, I’ll break down everything you need to know about building a content engine that creates radically different results for you and your colleagues.
Table of Contents:
Uncovering Who You Make Content For (Internally)
Fires vs Content Sprints vs Special Projects
The Elements of a Content Engine
Ship It at 80%, Iterate, and Repeat
Why the First-10% and the Last-10% Matter Most
Uncovering Who You Make Content For (Internally)
Your job is to create content for all go-to-market (GTM) teams.
This includes marketers, sellers, founders, executive leaders, and generally anyone who’s customer or prospect facing.
You are the central component of all marketing and selling activities, because all requests flow through you. No one can deliver on their goals without your content. Let that sink in.
There’s a tremendous amount of responsibility you bear as a full-stack content marketer. At any given moment, you could field a request that changes the entire trajectory of your startup’s growth.
It can be as small as a one-pager that ignites a strategic partnership to as big as leading the pitch deck development for venture capital (VC) fundraising. It’s impossible to know. And that’s why you need to respect every request that comes your way.
To get a clear understanding of how your content marketing activities affect other functions, I’ve put together a brief overview below.
Here’s who you make content for internally, and why:
Responsibility: To generate and capture demand through digital marketing campaigns and paid media.
Content Types: Blogs, eBooks, digital reports, white papers, ads, email banners, social snippets, and video.
Responsibility: To manage the brand, create consistent messaging across all channels, and promote your product through PR and social media.
Content Types: Brand guidelines, voice guidelines, press releases, newsletters, infographics, and social content.
Responsibility: To position and promote your brand’s products and enable GTM teams with the necessary tools and information they need to sell.
Content Types: One-pagers, data stories, impact stories, case studies, competitive battlecards, sales decks, demo videos, and training courses.
Responsibility: To drive sales, build relationships with prospects, and meet revenue targets.
Content Types: One-pagers, case studies, slide decks, talk tracks, objection handling guides, demo videos, proposals, and pitch decks.
Customer Success Managers
Responsibility: To ensure customers are satisfied while teaching them how to use the product effectively and attempting to upsell where necessary.
Content Types: Onboarding guides, FAQs, how-to one-pagers and videos, best practice guides, email campaigns, impact stories, and case studies.
Responsibility: To manage and nurture relationships with partners and ensure mutually beneficial benefits are met from the partnerships.
Content Types: Co-marketing content like one-pagers, case studies, and contributions, promotional materials, webinars, and blogs.
Responsibility: To define the company’s vision, make strategic decisions, and lead the company towards growth.
Content Types: Vision statements, PR contributions, investor presentations, reports, pitch decks, and VC fundraising talk tracks.
Responsibility: To lead their specific departments, make strategic decisions, and ensure their teams are aligned with the company’s goals.
Content Types: Slide decks, one-pagers, performance reports, and team development materials.
Responsibility: To establish and nurture strategic alliances at the executive level with other companies.
Content Types: Co-marketing content like one-pagers, case studies, and contributions, podcast features, webinars, articles, and print collateral.
When you look at your content marketing work as an extension of all GTM teams, you’ll achieve radically better results. Because owning the responsibility to deliver that one-pager to a seller, or that pitch deck to a Founder, is the first step in not only finding satisfaction in your work, but also sparking short- and long-term growth.
Next time you’re annoyed at a request, zoom out, and think about how you’re supporting someone to achieve their goals so you can all win together. It makes things much easier.
Your job is to also create content that achieves your marketing-specific goals.
This is where you shift from being a service-center, where you create content for others, and you become a strategic driver, where you create content that brings your content marketing strategy to life.
Typically, content marketers are responsible for reaching specific milestones across various key performance indicators (KPIs) on a quarterly basis like these:
Plan 6-month campaign content theme, campaign activities, and content deliverables
Improve conversion rate by 10% across all content marketing assets
Increase organic website traffic by 15% and organic keyword ranking by 5%
These KPIs will vary.
But the point is, you will also be held accountable to achieve your goals. And navigating these various responsibilities isn’t for the faint of heart.
Fires vs Content Sprints vs Special Projects
Besides managing your day-to-day work, you’ll need to learn how to manage fires, sprints, and special projects.
A typical day in the life of a full-stack content marketer encompasses continuous context-switching between day-to-day work, fires, sprints, and the occasional special project.
You’ll be pulled in a million different directions, multiple times per day. It’s just part of the job.
First, you’ve got day-to-day work. Or “run the business” kind of work. This includes tasks like content writing, project management, and administrative tasks that keep the machine humming. Nothing too fancy or crazy here.
Most content marketers live for their day-to-day work, they think it’s the most important part of their job. To do “their” work. However, this is an outdated way of thinking.
The real value content marketers bring to the table is doing the “run the business” stuff while also extinguishing fires, sprinting, and managing special projects. That’s what makes you stand out. Anyone can “do the job.”
But full-stack content marketers are far more capable than that. You understand that the business depends on you to deliver on all fronts.
Let me explain.
Managing Fires 101
Fires are pesky little things.
They’re the typos on your gated assets you need to go fix on Figma, re-upload on Hubspot, and pray prospects don’t notice.
They’re the web page bugs no one on the team seems to know how to fix besides you, because you’ve spent an ungodly amount of time on WordPress troubleshooting.
They’re the slide deck touch ups that must get done by EOD, otherwise your entire business will fall apart.
You get the point.
Fires are tough for three reasons: 1) most are inevitable 2) inconsequential 3) and distracting.
Not all fires are inevitable, so keep a close eye on “repeat” fires and address the root cause of them directly. However, most are inevitable. And embracing their place in your work life will make your job much easier to manage.
The other side is that most feel inconsequential. Is fixing a typo or sprucing up a slide deck really going to move the needle? Probably not. But it matters. So you need to accept that, too.
And lastly, fires are distracting. Nothing like being deep in a project just to get bombarded with “urgent” Slacks from people needing your attention. You must navigate these thoughtfully.
Because on one end, you need to support your colleagues. While on the other hand, you need to get your work done. Problem solve, find creative solutions, and strike that balance. But don’t get lost extinguishing fires all day.
Managing Content Sprints 101
Content sprints are a little more exhilarating.
These are projects like delivering new GTM assets for sellers after a dramatic market or competitive shift. Or projects like updating your pricing page on the website with new wireframes, content, and web development.
When managing content sprints, you need to be keenly aware of not only what you’re prioritizing, but more importantly, what you’re deprioritizing.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a set of blogs you need to ship this week. But you get a Slack from your leader that you need to sprint at creating GTM assets like one-pagers and slides to enable sellers to combat competitor creep. It’s your responsibility to raise your hand and ask for clarity.
In other words, let your leader know that you’ll get right on it, and that you were planning on shipping blogs. They may ask you to do both, but most times, they’ll be understanding of the trade offs. The cardinal sin here is saying nothing at all. Or worse, pushing back on a deadline.
Of course, situations will vary. But if you don’t fundamentally trust your leader (and the priorities they give you within the deadlines they set) you’ve got bigger fish to fry. So this advice is based on the assumption that you trust your leader. And if that’s the case, they need you to acknowledge you understand the content sprint needs, and to ensure you communicate what you’re giving up to get it done.
From a project management perspective, content sprints are fun because you have a clear objective to be delivered within a specified timeline and you can focus all your resources to it. But the other side of content sprints is chaos.
And again, it goes back to asking for clarity. I cannot stress this enough. You’re not a pencil pushing order taker, you’re a key part of the marketing team. Use your voice. Ask the right questions. And seek clarity.
Because without it, your content sprints will not only feel benign and meaningless, but they will also create a ton of chaos and disorder. Get organized early, then you can sprint.
“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” — relevant phrase I learned in the Air Force
Managing Special Projects 101
Somehow amidst all these responsibilities, special projects will pop-up.
Especially for full-stack content marketers like you, because you’ll tout a higher level of expectation, capacity, and abilities simply based on your training.
Special projects are things like writing a new company vision statement, or creating a talk track and pitch deck for a venture capital fundraiser. And they’re characterized by high-impact, high-stakes.