4 Things to Check When Hiring a B2B Content Marketing Lead

Looking to hire a B2B content marketing lead? Dive in to see four things to look out for, and why an alternative may work best for you.

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Victor Eduoh

Lead Strategist, VEC

I’ve hired many B2B Content Leads.

And it shouldn’t surprise you. Running a B2B content marketing, cum Product-Led Storytelling Studio, our business’s survival depends on them. To illustrate, a Content Marketing Lead, Content Marketing Manager, Content Marketing Strategist, or other preferred titles, is at the center of our 5-person team serving every client:

Despite their crucial place in our team setup, I don’t hire for this vital role on the fly. My reason is hard-earned. Experience has taught me that finding great B2B Content Leads goes beyond fancy resumes.

Essentially, you’re looking for someone with:

  • The foresight to strategize, lead the creation, and distribution of content programs that build brand and drive growth.
  • The leadership skills needed to oversee and coordinate others (B2B writers, editors, designers, distributors/PR).

And so the question: How do you find someone with the right blend of these abilities? I got better at finding and recruiting them when I learned the most important trait to seek:

Problem-Solvers, Not Content Ninjas

Creating content isn’t all you’d need. 

If it was, $7–10K+ to hire a great Content Lead doesn’t make sense. Because give any $100/month AI tool prompts, and you’ll have thousands of traffic-generating articles published in a few hours. Take Casual, the business planning software. 

In Nov 2023, their ‘success’ story of generating 1,800 articles with AI in a few hours was everywhere. They called it ‘successful’ because it helped them outrank competitors, driving over 3.6M in traffic

But this ‘success’ was short-lived. 

Just two months later, in January 2024, it all came crashing down like a pack of cards. Whether the competitors they outranked found a way to re-outsmart them or they got punished by Google, no one knows. What’s known is that quickly publishing 1,800 content pieces couldn’t save them from free-falling in less than a month:

The lesson here is two-fold.

First, as the graph shows, Google is getting smarter at punishing sites with generic, mass-produced content. Second, and this is the most damaging. Content not written with stories that resonate with target ICPs, shows how your brand is different, and how your product solves their problems, won’t help your business. 

So a Content Lead who is efficient at creating content, whether they use AI or not, may bump your company’s traffic numbers. But if they drive traffic without solving problems, you’d fail to teach prospects and customers how to think and act favorably. 

And that, according to Devin Reed, Head of Content at Clari, is what a Content Marketing Lead should primarily do: 

This is why when hiring Content Leads, I seek problem-solvers, and not just content ninjas. Problem-solvers know their job isn’t just to produce more content. But to solve problems with content in ways that move target ICPs’ to do what a business wants them to do. 

To find such, there are... 

Things to Look For In a Content Marketing Lead

Each time I host B2B Content Leaders on the Growing with Content podcast, I strive to uncover their success ‘secrets.’ Across many conversations, these veterans confirm my hypothesis that top B2B Content Managers are problem-solvers, first and foremost. 

Digging into our chats, to actually solve problems and grow B2B brands, there are a couple of things they all do. Four things, to be specific. Those are the four things I now (and you should) consider when trying to hire a great B2B Content Marketing Manager. 

1. Strategic Aligner

Avoma, the meeting lifecycle software, hired Yaagneshwaran Ganesh as Director of Content Marketing in 2021. I had known Yaag for years. He’s great at creating and optimizing content. But as our conversation revealed, these weren’t the things that enabled him to execute B2B content marketing that helped to grow Avoma.

Like many SaaS startups today, Avoma was in a competitive niche dominated by the likes of Gong and Chorus. As such, the first problem they needed to solve was ensuring each content they published told a different, overarching story: 

How did Yaag discover this overarching story?

He aligned strategically with Avom’s stakeholders to understand the unique aspects of the product at a deeper level. 

Prioritize this ability when hiring someone to lead your company’s content marketing. That’s because, given today’s content overload, each piece you publish should subtly tell the story of how your brand and product is different. Otherwise, it’d be almost impossible to earn buyers’ mindshare and drive growth with content. 

The line between content and B2B sales isn’t linear. 

As a result, content can do a great job of educating prospects and creating awareness for your product. But fail to also demonstrate how your brand is different, and prospects are likely to default to category leaders when ready to buy is high. In short, per a HBR-reported study, over 75% of the market cap in a software category typically goes to the category leader. To that, David Sacks opined

An exceptional B2B Content Lead knows this. 

So they first align with stakeholders to know how a brand and product is different. Then, they focus all efforts on building a content marketing strategy around telling that unique, differentiating story. 

To detect candidates with this ability: 

  • Ask them the first things they did (or will do) before designing a content marketing strategy for your B2B startup. 
  • Inquire if and why there’s a need to talk to and align with relevant stakeholders such as founder(s), sales, product, and customer success teams before the jump into creating content. 
  • Ask how they will ensure each piece of content they publish and distribute will resonate with target audiences. 

Bullets 1–2 tell you if your potential Content Marketing Lead has the ability to align content strategically with your brand story. The third bullet shows if they can align content efforts strategically to make sure it resonates with your various target audience groups.

These are foundational. 

Which is why they are the first things we nail when working with tech companies to strategize and execute B2B content projects:

2. Content Clustering Design Ability

Well-crafted content pieces can perform alone. 

For instance, for this B2B SaaS startup, pieces we crafted and distributed for them converted target readers on the spot: 

But I must admit. 

Content performs better when clustered and linked internally per the customer journey. First, it’s good for search engine indexing. Second, and this is more important. It makes it easy for target ICPs to discover relevant, related marketing assets along the customer journey. Mark Quadros, a B2B Content Leader and Growth Advisor, said it best:

There’s another reason to prioritize this. 

A study by 6Sense found that about 70% of modern B2B tech buyers now do most of the buying research before talking to sales. And 83% of the time, they shortlist an average of four vendors. To engage prospects across this self-research and shortlisting process, you should design content ensuring when executed, pieces are:

  • Properly clustered around topics, features, and solutions 
  • Relevant to various points of the typical customer journey stages (i.e., TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU):

Most Content Leads aren’t in tune with this reality. 

To discover those who are, ask things like: 

  • Why is clustering content around topics, features, and solutions vital? If their answer tilts mainly towards ranking higher on search engines, they probably are not for you. 
  • How will they design your content program to ensure there’s a resource for various stages of the customer journey and for easier discoverability of conversion-optimized pages? 

From years of practice and iterations of improving what works, we’ve designed frameworks that effectively address both questions. Starting with our Topic Clusters Content Strategy (TCCS) Framework

At the content strategy level, this framework ensures all pieces are clustered around topics and a product’s features per the customer journey. It also provides guardrails for linking all content back to a company’s overarching narrative. During execution, it offers guidelines for proper internal linking of content to make conversion-optimized pages easier to discover. 

Here’s a sneak peek: 

This is one reason executives hire VEC Studio instead of a lone Content Marketing Lead. Or bring us on to ramp up their B2B content team by designing content strategies that work across channels. 

Take Kristin Hicks: 

3. Thoughtful Execution Coordinator

Eric Doty is Dock’s Content Lead. 

He’s their first and only content marketing hire. In short, Eric’s LinkedIn profile says he’s a one-man product-led content band:

I discovered Dock through Eric’s impressive content marketing execution. And as the data shows, most prospects will discover Dock through Eric’s amazing work, too. But seeing all the growth B2B Content Leads like Eric is driving, and the message conveyed on his profile (one-man content band), you may think he does it all alone. 

He doesn’t. 

Eric is achieving success because he’s a thoughtful execution coordinator. In other words, hiring and thoughtfully coordinating the efforts of relevant freelancers is the superpower he’s using to effectively execute Dock’s content marketing strategy: 

The lesson from this is that…

As a tree cannot make a forest, hiring a Content Lead will hardly produce the results you seek. They’ll need to work with others. As a result, seek a Content Lead who can coordinate other creatives to thoughtfully execute your content marketing program. 

Another example is Rease Rios, Director of Content at Qase. In our conversation, I asked how she’s executing Qase’s content marketing strategy. She also mentioned working with freelancers:

This further cements the fact that you’ll need to make extra budget available for a hired Content Lead to hire and work freelancers. 

And it is why we considered this in how we work.With VEC Studio, for one monthly fee, you get a Content Marketing Strategist trained to lead and coordinate the efforts of other creatives: 

4. Exceptional Writing Skills 

B2B content marketing now comprises everything from blog articles to eBooks, social posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, and newsletters. But most of, if not all, these require exceptional writing skills. 

As such, you need a Content Lead with excellent writing skills. This is important for when they’ll create content. And for when they’ll supervise, edit, or review content written by others. 

Two ways to detect this skill?

Ask them to: 

  1. Share samples of their written work. If shared samples compel you enough to sit your butt and actually read, chances are, they can create content that compels your ICPs, too. 
  2. Write a piece addressing an important customer query related to a problem your product solves. You want to see their ability to choose ideas and craft content likely to resonate with your ICPs. Also, check to see if they can show (not just tell) how your product solves problems within the content without being salesy.

Do this exercise, and you’ll notice something. B2B content pieces that do the things listed above are often crafted with storytelling. 

Says Jenna Alburger:

The importance of prioritizing a Content Lead who has the ability to craft content with stories cannot be overstated. With stories, your content marketing will attract target ICPs, engage and show how your product solves problems, and compel them to act favorably. 

All VEC Studio Content Leads have this ability. 

They’re rigorously trained in crafting every B2B piece with our unique, Product-Led Storytelling approach. As illustrated below, this entails using stories to tick the crucial boxes that transform every published piece into a funnel of its own:

The Actual Cost of a Content Marketing Manager

Look at this B2B Content Lead job post: 

As shown, Daydream is a platform that automatically identifies search patterns, creates and improves created content at scale. But for a B2B SaaS platform that ‘automates’ creating and improving content, why did they offer a Content Lead as much as $100–150K annually? 

The answer is obvious. Daydream offered that much because effective B2B content marketing, as stressed when introducing this guide, goes beyond ‘automating’ content creation. So even if you have the tools to automate content creation, you still need a Content Marketing Manager. And a great one will cost you over $100k per year. 

But that’s not the only cost. 

Recall Eric Doty and Rease Rios, Content Leads at Dock and Qase, respectively. To effectively execute their companies’ content marketing, they had freelancers at their beck and call. It’s probably why content marketing costs companies over $40k per quarter:

Should I Hire a Content Lead/Manager? 

Here’s my take. 

If you must hire a Content Lead/Manager, ensure they are problem-solvers, first and foremost. Also look out for the four things detailed in this guide. Marcus Sheridan shared why this is so crucial

On the other hand, realize a Content Lead/Manager isn’t all you’d need. You’ll need a team of creatives (writers, designers, editors, and outreach/PR pros) passionate about the craft of B2B content and obsessed with using storytelling to do it well. 

Assembling such a team can expand your quarterly content marketing expense above the reported average of over $40k/quarter. This is where VEC Studio comes in. Starting at just $7k/mn (that’s only $21k/quarter), in addition to other perks, you’ll get a dedicated team of creatives to:

  • Design a holistic content marketing strategy for your company using our Topic Clusters Content Strategy (TCCS) Framework
  • Execute the same with our unique, Product-Led Storytelling approach that turns every piece into a funnel more likely to drive business outcomes.

Another reason to consider hiring VEC Studio instead. 

From thought leadership to sales enablement and how-to guides, our process is rooted in crafting story-driven content that: 

  1. Earns your target ICPs’ mindshare 
  2. Conveys your product’s unique value
  3. Drives growth, through:

Learn more about our process here

Or book a discovery call here

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Victor Eduoh

Lead Strategist, VEC

Founder, Lead Strategist @VEC. Thinker, reader, words-crafter, and husband to Omosede. Besides crafting product-led stories, I love scouting and grooming rare marketing talents.

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