Effective leaders understand their audiences, leverage data to tell compelling stories, and foster positive communication — skills that content marketers use daily.
Whether you’re a transformational or servant leader, every manager needs to be in command of world-class communication skills in order to engage their team and inspire their organization. By effectively articulating your goals and clearly discussing your values, you stand a better chance of fostering a healthy, positive company culture.
By studying the example of content marketers — professionals whose success relies on cogent writing and effective branding — leaders in any industry can leverage astute communication skills to the benefit of their organizations. Leaders looking to improve their own messaging skills should emulate the techniques of masterful communicators across a variety of fields, from sales and education to advertising and government.
Branding as a Way to Envision a Company’s Future
Every company has a story, but not every firm has the capacity to tell it. That’s where content marketers come in.
Companies rise and fall based on their content marketing team’s ability to translate their origin story, vision, and value proposition into a compelling narrative. In turn, the overarching story a brand tells is disseminated to its target audience, effectively establishing an easily comprehensible and memorable brand identity.
While this form of branding is externally focused, leaders can also leverage storytelling internally to motivate their employees. Only by empowering creativity and emphasizing the importance of their employees’ work to the larger company narrative can leaders truly empower an ever-changing workforce to succeed.
As Robert McKee, a world-renowned screenwriting lecturer, writes, “businesspeople not only have to understand their companies’ past, they must project the future. And how do you imagine the future? As a story.”
Driving Insights Through Data
Whether by measuring organizational effectiveness or allowing for keyword optimization of an article title, gathering better data makes for better decision-making. Content marketers excel at this kind of research, using a data-driven approach to track conversations happening across digital spaces and gain a better understanding of how their target consumers express their needs. These insights allow content marketers to tailor their communication strategies to yield the best results possible.
In the same way that content teams leverage data to tell better stories, successful leaders should harvest and analyze data in order to reach their business goals. This change is already afoot among savvy leaders: according to a 2017 global study on CEOs, “38% are planning to make significant investments in Data & Analytics tools over the next three years.”
While it may be unorthodox to highlight the parallels between content strategy and business strategy, both are driven by the same fundamental question: how can I best respond to the needs of my customers and clients?
Focusing on Empathy
Content marketers are in the business of examining every quantifiable characteristic of their target audience base, from basic demographic information to complex behavioral patterns. The end goal is to gain a nuanced understanding of their ideal customer’s wants and needs and shape a marketing strategy that appeals to them. In order to effectively reach these consumers, an empathetic approach is essential.
This same level of empathy is required of effective leaders. To truly understand the impact of their messaging and gauge how effectively they’re communicating expectations to their direct reports, managers need to put themselves in their employees’ shoes.
In the end, business growth requires long-term relationship building. To truly succeed, leaders need to foster sustainable relationships at every level of their organization — and that begins with building a cohesive narrative that engages every employee.