What if the Content Marketing Team Can’t Write?

Strategies for effective online marketing

Writer’s block is a lame excuse real writers don’t use. Translation: “I can’t write.”

Writer’s void? Different issue. It means, “There are no writers here.” This is a legitimate challenge for a good many companies who want to get active in content marketing.

Sometimes there are writers, but there’s no room on their plates for generating new content. Sometimes there’s no budget for writers.

Sometimes the people at your company best qualified to help position your company as an authority in its niche loathe writing—or suck at it—or can’t (won’t) find time to write.

Real content marketers make no excuses.

You know that a steady stream of new and valuable content is the key to get new prospects to click around and existing customer to stick around. Nonetheless, you‘re staring into the abyss consumed with the question, “Who’s going to write content for the company.”

How about no one?

What if, with nary a writer in sight, you could somehow manage to keep feeding the company’s content marketing machine? It’s do-able. So let’s nix the excuses and create some effective content. Here’s how it’s done.

Get a helpful overview of how content marketing is integral to your effective online marketing program in “The Plan.”

Just ask.

Hunt down a source of knowledge within the company and fire a question at that person—one you know your customers need an answer to.

Writer phobiacs often love to talk. Even a quick conversation could become a blog post or piece of content that writes itself.

When you find this approach working as it should, ask a second question, and a third. Probe. Ask for examples of how “it” works. Ask for examples of how “it” doesn’t.

After you’ve made your way through “how,” back up and ask “why?” Try “when,” and of course, “who.”

All that remains to be done is transcription. No big thang.

Camera and action.

Your writing impaired expert might love the camera. Hook up on Skype or approach her with your mini-cam in hand. Press record.

Again, you’ll want to transcribe the interview and for SEO purposes, publish both the video and transcript. Easy, eh?

Now hear this.

You made a video and in the process, besides learning just how easy it is to create content without a writer, you also learned using the all-powerful video format can be simple too.

It’s podcast time now. The audio track of your video is a podcast waiting to happen.

Given the pervasive presence of smart phones and iPods, the dog-walking, urban-commuting, lunchtime-exercising faction of your audience presents a podcasting audience you simply can’t ignore.

You’ll find podcast production is extremely simple. Try it. You’ll like what you find/hear/see.

Away you go.

This writing-adverse content generator you’ve tapped probably stays busy making the rounds at industry events. So another tactic to put in place is to hand the recording device over to him.

With recorder in hand, he might interview the experts he meets on a variety of topics your audience will want to tune into.

If he doesn’t go for this plan, revert back to the “just ask” plan. Ask him… What happened at the event? Who’d you talk to? What did you learn? What’s new? What’s old?

When you get answers, you get more posts for you. When outside parties are involved, you get a bonus benefit. You create links to the content on their site and inevitably, social media sharing will follow.


Don’t forget picture taking. Judging by the popularity of Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and the seemingly infinite explosion of sites and services where images dominate, you need to consider photos can also fill the void where writing resources are sparse.

So create a shutterbug culture. Capture photos and turn any and all possible essays into jpegs. If you’re aiming your content at Gen Y, take it from me, father to two jpeg junkies, photos (or any kind of images) are golden. Shoot ‘em and share ‘em.

Social Media Examiner gets into storytelling with images in this informative post.

Present yourself.

Recognize the tagline? Yes indeed, they’re the words of SlideShare, the quiet giant of content marketing. It’s also the title of a new book about using SlideShare, due out this Spring.

Every strategy I’ve brought you here today parlays into a presentation perfectly.

Interviews will make wonderful slide shows. Case studies? Photo collections? Portfolios? You betcha’.

You may not have discovered it yet, but SlideShare is A/V-friendly. Not only can you upload videos, it’s a snap to add audio to your presentation or embed a YouTube video within one.

In SlideShare’s uploader sequence, when you click “Add audio,” you’ll discover the following:

What’s a Slidecast? A Slidecast is a format for viewing presentation slides synchronized with an audio (mp3) file. It can be used for conference talks, musical slideshows, webinars, teaching lessons, etc. You can host your mp3 file on SlideShare, or use a previously uploaded mp3 URL as well.

MarketingProfs contributor Ekaterina Walter included SlideShare in her article, “Four Types of Visual Content That Cut Through the Noise.”

A hired hand.

Seeing that I’m a marketing writer and a specialist in content marketing, I feel compelled to offer what might be the most obvious of strategy yet. If the people on the payroll can’t be counted on the write for your blog or create content for your customers, go and get yourself a scribe.

Fear not. Content marketing writers abound. And there’s someone ready to take on the task with every conceivable budget, including, quite possibly, zero.

Though you generally get what you pay for, you can outsource content writing to all kinds of copywriters, journalists, or content creation companies. You might try to find an intern or newcomer looking for publishing opportunities.

Certain opportunities, such as guest blogging or getting writer’s credit for partnering on a paper or report will often even appeal to well established writers.

Content marketing for the writing impaired.

For content marketing, new rules apply. New media strategies such as those I’ve shared with you here today, open doors for endless new opportunities.

New media is the great playing field leveler. Every company or individual must embrace a publishing mentality. The winners need not have the most finances or largest staffs. Effective online marketing is about being resourceful.

I urge you to become a better content marketer by tapping into the resources you do have.

Any questions or suggestions? Bring ‘em on.

Barry FeldmanAbout Barry Feldman: After making the rounds in the ad agency business for about a decade, Barry established a freelance copywriting business in 1995. Ever since, he’s partnered with corporate marketing groups, small businesses, ad agencies, and design firms. Barry is a contributor to Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner and is author of the eBook “The Plan to grow your business”.
Follow Barry on Twitter and SlideShare.

7 Responses to “What if the Content Marketing Team Can’t Write?”

  1. Martin Casper

    Great article, Barry. It seems that many people really do not realize that each of us has a story to tell. Each of us has value to spread. I am sure that there are many cases of writer’s block that are a true lock-up in thought, but could it be that most of writer’s block is an insecurity of mindset that “I have nothing to share of value”? Your thoughts?…

  2. Jitendra Shukla

    Great Barry,
    It’s explain insight of Content Marketing experience, Content is a key factor for effective On-line Marketing campaigning.

  3. David H. Deans

    I offer one more suggestion, for those that have trouble with narrative development. Revisit the basics ingredients of the storytelling approach that you learned at school as a child.

    In particular, each story should have a beginning, middle and an ending. While this isn’t profound guidance, it’s the most common problem that I consistently see from an inexperienced marketer’s attempt at writing meaningful editorial that flows.

  4. Dave Young, co-founder of Shortcut Blogging

    You hit the nail on the head and knocked it clean through the board! The ACTUAL WRITING is, for some, the most difficult part of blogging or content marketing.

    Any decent business has a Subject Matter Expert (SME). It’s probably the business owner, or a product developer or a superstar in the sales or customer support area. You might have several SMEs. If they can’t/won’t write, you are absolutely dead in the water. Hiring someone like Barry is a good solution. Sometimes a close relationship with a writer is needed. In fact, ghostwriting simply won’t work for topics that require experience-based expertise without spending a LOT of time with the SME.

    I was in the same place…working with my marketing clients but having trouble getting them to write. I’m lazy, and I don’t like writing for other people, especially SMEs. It’s frustrating for me, and it’s frustrating for them. Unless we both invest the time needed to turn me into an SME, it just never seems to click. So…I developed a shortcut.

    We built a company for SMEs who can’t/won’t write. We ask them for 1 hour to put together a content plan using a free video exercise that we offer on our site. Then, we use moonlighting professional radio announcers to interview them on Skype. We knock out 4 or 5 topics in a single recording session…enough to create weekly posts. The SME is only committed to spending 1 hour per month on this form of “writing.”

    We transcribe those interviews and have them re-written into blog posts. They need to be re-written because transcripts are quite hard to read. People talk in fragments and phrases, but we prefer to read well-formed grammar. If our SMEs desire, we will also polish up the recording so they can use it as a podcast. The service isn’t as cheap as hiring an article writer, but it isn’t as expensive as adopting a ghost-writer. We’ve even got marketers using our service for their own clients because taking on a writing role in a consulting gig is a quick way to burn up all of your available time.

  5. Barry Feldman

    @Martin: I believe writers don’t really have writer’s block. So yeah, if you think you have nothing of value to share, you shouldn’t write. But more importantly, you have no business being in content marketing. Do people actually think they have nothing of value to share? That’s sad.