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Balancing Creativity and Strategy in Small Team Marketing with Rachel Cottam

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Episode Summary

In this episode of Tech Qualified, hosts Justin Brown and Meredith Metsker welcome Rachel Cottam, Director of Content at Delivery Solutions. Rachel shares her diverse experiences in marketing, emphasizing the unique challenges faced by small marketing teams. She draws parallels between her past as a high school English teacher and her current role, highlighting the nuanced skills required in content marketing.

Rachel dives into the isolation often felt in small teams, discussing how content marketers, despite being part of a niche, need to ensure their strategies and metrics are well-understood organization-wide. She stresses the importance of community building among marketers and the need for recognizing the varied roles and responsibilities within the marketing sphere.

The conversation shifts to the balance of creativity and strategy in small teams. Rachel advises embracing a growth mindset, encouraging marketers to say “yes” to diverse tasks and learn through experience. Her approach underlines the importance of adaptability and feedback in honing one’s skills, especially in compact marketing teams.

Rachel Cottam

Director of Content

Noteworthy: Former English teacher turned Director of Content Marketing.


Key Insights

Embracing Versatility in Small Marketing Teams

Rachel Cottam emphasizes the importance of versatility in small marketing teams. She shares her journey from being a high school English teacher to leading content marketing, highlighting the need for adaptability in various roles. Rachel’s experience underscores the value of a growth mindset, especially in small teams where resources are limited. She encourages marketers to say “yes” to diverse tasks, learn through doing, and seek feedback for improvement. This approach not only broadens one’s skill set but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and innovation within the team.

Navigating Isolation in Niche Marketing Roles

A significant challenge in small marketing teams, as discussed by Rachel Cottam, is the sense of isolation, particularly in niche roles like content marketing. Rachel points out that the specialized nature of these roles often leads to a lack of understanding within the broader organization. She stresses the importance of building a community of peers and finding others who share similar responsibilities. This networking not only combats the feeling of isolation but also provides a platform for sharing ideas and strategies. Rachel’s insight highlights the need for content marketers to actively seek out and engage with their professional community for support and collaboration.

The Impact of Small Teams on Company Perception

Rachel discusses the unique position of small content marketing teams as central figures in shaping a company’s external perception. Despite often being undervalued internally, these teams play a crucial role in developing and distributing content across various platforms, from social media to ad campaigns. This responsibility places them at the forefront of how the company is perceived by the outside world. Rachel’s perspective sheds light on the dichotomy faced by small teams: being the face of the company’s brand while also navigating the challenge of limited resources and recognition within the organization.

Episode Highlights

The Critical Role of Audience Understanding

Rachel Cottam discusses the crucial aspect of understanding the target audience in content marketing. She emphasizes that knowing the audience is the foundational step in any marketing strategy. Rachel candidly admits her reluctance to speculate on her audience prematurely, highlighting the importance of getting this aspect right. Her focus is on not rushing into conclusions without thorough research and understanding.

“I think understanding your audience is just like that critical step one.”

The Power of Community in Marketing

Rachel speaks about the value of community and sharing within small marketing teams. She notes the benefits of having specific examples and resources shared among peers, rather than relying on generic, gated content. This approach fosters a sense of solidarity and support, crucial for small teams facing unique challenges.

“I think the specificity and the solidarity have been most meaningful for folks. Seeing specific examples, not just some gated content resource that some marketing agency is posting to try and get our business, but what you are actually using.”

Balancing Insourcing and Outsourcing in Content Marketing

Rachel dives into the balance between insourcing and outsourcing in small content marketing teams. She discusses the decision-making process behind what tasks to keep in-house versus what to outsource. This part of the conversation sheds light on the strategic choices small teams must make to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

“What are some things that you’re like, yes, I do that. And then, what are the things that you’re like, okay, I tried that, and I don’t like that, and I want to go and get someone else to do this thing for me.”

Aligning Marketing with Business Goals

Rachel talks about the importance of aligning marketing efforts with broader business goals. She emphasizes the need for marketers to demonstrate how their work impacts the company’s bottom line, whether through revenue generation, cost savings, or efficiency improvements. This alignment is crucial for proving the value of marketing within the organization.

You have to align your day-to-day work to the larger needs of the business. Otherwise, you’re never going to prove your value internally.”

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