Why it's important to invest in long-term content training with IMPACT
By Jen Barrell
There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about the difficult choice American workers are making between being an employee and being a parent. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to decide.
Yes, I’m a content trainer for IMPACT and, yes, I’m a mom. Both happen simultaneously.
In fact, right now I’m writing this from my dining room table while my 19-year-old son is pacing back and forth humming the song he’s been writing.
Truth be told, it’s totally distracting. He’s a trumpet player and the songs he writes are impressive, but hearing the same three notes over and over can wear on your nerves…especially when you’ve been cooped up together since March.
His melody took me back to the first time he brought his trumpet home. He was eight years old and had learned his first three notes. He was giggling like only little boys can do when they’re proud of themselves. He played them repeatedly.
“Look, Mommy, I can play them from the couch!”
“See how they sound when I’m standing up?”
“Wanna hear them when I play them in the kitchen?”
And my husband and I did want to hear them. We were two people who had no idea what we were getting into — the horrendous sounds we’d hear during practice times, the hours we’d be putting in driving to practice and sitting in recital halls, the immense feeling of pride we’d get when he played his senior solo on stage in front of a packed auditorium.
It was all laid out before us…and three days later he declared he was done.
“You know,” he said with a smug look on his face, “I think I’m gonna switch to the saxophone. I’ve pretty much mastered the trumpet.”
What does a budding trumpet player have to do with content training?
The clients who come to IMPACT for content training tend to initially sign up for a three-month period. In those three months, we set the foundation for publishing content that drives sales.
This is akin to teaching the first three notes to a beginning musician, no matter what age.
Don’t get me wrong: you can do a lot with three notes. Given enough time, you can even teach yourself to play a few octaves and some simple songs.
But you’re going to go much farther and much faster with someone who’s coaching you along the way.
Heck, even Miles Davis had a music teacher.
What is content training?
Content training is a program designed for markers to learn how to generate and measure the results from their content efforts.
The core of IMPACT’s content training is aimed at answering the most pressing questions your potential customers have and then positioning those answers to turn your business into an industry educator and leader.
While it might be tempting to do this on your own by taking a deep dive into all the free resources IMPACT provides on this very topic, having a content trainer at your side while you navigate this will super-charge your results.
I work with my clients to help them determine the type of content to produce, to make the shift from “writing” to “marketing,” and to measure their results so they can prove the value of the content they’re creating.
As content training clients progress through the program, they tackle content and concepts that extend well beyond their blog or learning center. They learn to adopt a content-first approach that expands their skillset, educates their customers, and shortens the sales cycle.
Clients who have seen the most success with content training have been working with IMPACT for 12 to 24 months.
What does long-term content training at IMPACT look like?
So what exactly are you getting out of the time and money you put into content training? And how quickly will you start seeing results?
Here is a breakdown of the stages of IMPACT’s content training course and what staying with a trainer for the long-term looks like:
Content training in the first three months
This is the foundation of developing content that equates to sales.
You’ll learn the fundamentals of answering your prospects’ questions and how to do so in a way that shows authenticity and builds trust. From there, you’ll identify the topics you need to start writing and build a thriving editorial calendar.
Your content trainer will gauge how far along you are in your content journey and customize sessions to meet your needs.
- Do you need to hire a content manager? We’ll show you how to create job listings that get the right applicants and how to interview and select the best candidate to meet your needs.
- Have you recently brought a content manager on board? Your trainer will bring them up to speed on transforming their written skills into winning marketing copy.
- Do you have great writers and content managers on staff already? We’ll work with them to adopt best practices of SEO, write for tone and style, and promote content so it gets found by the right people.
In every case, content trainers provide continuous feedback in weekly calls and by reviewing copy on an ongoing basis. We also act as an accountability guide, making sure you stay on track with your goals and complete assignments so that you can see results quickly.
While the best content marketing strategies take time and persistence to see maximum results, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to wait to see the benefits of your content program. Once you have a writer dedicated to the cause, in the first three months of content training, you’ll be producing and publishing content your sales team can use to shorten the sales cycle and close leads.
This stage of the program teaches you the foundational elements you’ll be using from here on out. While you can use what you’ve learned in this time and continue on your own, there’s so much more you’ll need in your content arsenal to truly master content marketing.
Think of this as your first three notes: the next level is where you start to actually play some music.
Content training in months 3 to 6
The next stage of your content training program builds off of the fundamentals.
The majority of clients spend the first stage primarily building a strong editorial calendar and writing for their blog. In the second stage, we shift to how to use the website to better nurture and convert site visitors.
You’ll learn to identify gaps in the buyer’s journey and how to set up conversion pathways that pull your readers deeper into your sales funnel. While you continue to add powerful topics to your blog, you’ll also be developing a variety of offer and email campaigns.
This is also usually the time period where you’ll begin to create a pillar strategy, bringing together the best of what you’ve learned from writing, topic selection, and SEO.
At this stage, you’re pulling your skills together to reach beyond your blog and dig into how to best serve your audience. You have, if you will, learned more notes, played a few songs, and are ready to start more advanced theories (and maybe even some improv).
Content training in months 6 to 9
While we’ve been monitoring the success of your content all along, it’s at this stage that the majority of clients begin to deep dive into content analytics and reporting.
You’ll discover how to read and respond to advanced analytics, iterating and improving past content to get the results you want. This includes pinpointing historic optimization opportunities, continuing to identify content gaps, and improving conversion methods.
I like to think of this as jazz improv, where you have the skills to pivot and respond to outside influences. By the end of this stage, you’ll be able to assess the health of past content and build a path forward that relies on data to show you what’s working and what needs to be improved.
Content training 9 months and beyond
At this stage, we typically continue to revisit past content strategies and add to the program, expanding pillars, email campaigns, offers, blog posts, and website pages.
Digital marketing is an evolving practice, and our work together is centered around making sure your content is performing well and doing what you need it to do.
Typical clients at this stage are seeing their traffic and keywords grow and, most importantly, have a strong relationship with their sales team. They are creating content that their prospects want and that their sales team uses to close deals.
Once we hit the 12-month mark, many of our clients have the ability to strike out with more freedom. Those who have seen the most success with content training continue the relationship, but they may choose to scale back the time and budget they spend with us, perhaps opting for bi-weekly or monthly calls.
Why should I consider content training for the long-haul?
Can you learn the fundamentals of content and then continue on your own? Of course you can, but it will take you years (and most likely years of frustration) to get the results you want, if you get them at all.
When my son declared he had “mastered” the trumpet after learning his first few notes, I had to ask him a few questions for him to see that maybe he had more to learn.
Here are some questions you should consider when deciding if you’re ready to strike out on your own:
- What is the outcome you hope to achieve by the time you’re finished with content training? Have you achieved your content goals?
- Do you have the tools and full skill set in place to stay up to date with the best practices of digital marketing, SEO, and writing tactics?
- Are you able to respond to outside influences and pivot your content strategies easily?
- Are you creating content that is used frequently by your sales team to close deals?
Back in the day, my son decided that maybe he’d stick with the trumpet a few more months just to see how far he’d get. Eleven years later, he’s playing in his university orchestra and writing his own songs. He practiced with his teacher up until the week he left for college.
The good news is that it takes less time to fully adopt a successful content strategy than it does to master an instrument. But the essentials are the same. Commitment to the program for the long-haul will bring about the best results.
Wondering where to begin?