Like anything when it comes to B2B marketing strategies and content marketing in general, there’s concepts that apply to everybody then nuances that only fly in certain industries. Speaking as a writer and content strategist coming at this from two uniquely isolated fields– tax preparation/tax law practice and the video games industry– “When is searching for a niche expert TOO niche?” is a topic that needs to be tackled head on when you’re seeking the ideal talent to work with.
To get down to brass tacks, there’s a major difference in hiring a content strategist who has specific experience with your industry compared to a writer. Industry experience always helps but there’s times when you might need an outside perspective from someone with a much deeper understanding of the technical aspects of content no matter what your line of work is or what your audience is like. And to put it bluntly, it’s often going to be harder finding a content strategist with incredibly specific industry experience than it is to find a writer with similar credentials.
What to Look For in a Content Strategist
The Content Marketing Institute has provided a handy list for characteristics and technical skills you should seek out when hiring a content strategist, regardless of whether they have experience. And if you’re totally new to working with content and need a strong primer in how content marketing works and are unsure what your precise goals are with respect to content strategy, industrial expertise can go on the backburner for now. You need a content strategy sherpa, if you will.
Whereas if you have a clearer idea of what your audience wants and have more specific goals and/or a working knowledge of how content impacts engagement, you can then focus on finding a content strategist who has more experience in your industry.
Ultimately, you want a content strategist who’s familiar with the specific pain you’re currently experiencing. Such as if one of the following applies to you:
- You’re creating quality content but it’s not getting the views and/or conversions you want
- You’re unsure which keywords to focus on
- It’s hard to determine what your audience wants
- Your current content marketing efforts seem to lack direction
As the Content Marketing Institute puts it, the right content strategist for you is one who’s a problem-solver who knows how to stop the specific type of pain you’re experiencing.
Pay Attention to Other Factors, Not Just Industry
Industrial expertise can be the factor that helps solve your problems when it comes to content strategy. However, you also need to keep other attributes in mind that can drastically affect how your content strategy is devised. For instance, is your content strategist more experienced with large-sized businesses that have several hierarchies within their marketing departments or the needs of small businesses and solopreneurs who don’t have the same infrastructure or number of bodies?
Focusing too hard on the niche that the content strategist is in can make the industrial expertise the be-all end-all instead of also looking at these additional factors that make them a suitable candidate for you. Going back to the two industries I have the most expertise with, there is a massive gulf of difference between the needs of indie game developers and AAA developers that have major cultural differences and expectations that go beyond marketing. The same is also true of the direction a small tax office needs for their content versus a large franchise chain or a Big Four accounting firm.
When deciding to hire content strategists, industrial expertise may be a reason that you choose who to work with but it’s crucial to pay attention to other factors like company size and the problems this strategist is an expert in solving. Focusing too hard on industry experience can result in the classic “purple squirrel” problem HR departments can be fraught with, or ignore the more technical and problem-solving aspects of evaluating a content strategist’s professional experience and suitability.
Rachel P is an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. She is also a content strategist here at Writer Access and would be happy to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.