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5 Critical Questions You Need to Answer Before Hiring a Chief Content Officer

The biggest challenge in adding content to your marketing arsenal is finding the right person to make it happen. Not only does your chief content officer need in-depth industry knowledge, but also experience with the different tech platforms and tools available. 

That combination of creativity, writing ability, design fortitude, storytelling prowess, analytical thinking, and industry knowledge doesn’t come around often — if ever. And if you do stumble across this rare blend, you better be willing to fork over a small fortune. 

So how is a marketing director or CMO supposed to fill this highly complex and coveted role?The key is to prioritize the skills you need and start your search from there.

To help you distill the most vital skills to your industry and organization, answer these five questions:

1. How complex is your industry?

Do you need someone with years of industry experience to produce relevant content, or is your industry simple enough to teach someone about quickly? Whichever it is, make sure you keep both in mind when hiring for the position.

2. Is your website ready to ramp up your content?

Sure, you may want to jump on the content train, but is your site ready? Empower your content to perform well by giving it an appealing place to live. If you don’t have an established blog or internal tech support, coding skills are a must.

3. Are you willing to commit to content in the long term?

I frequently talk with people who say they’re sold on content marketing for their company but want to give it a six-month trial first. However, content marketing is not a short-burst campaign you can throw money at and expect to see immediate, tangible results. It’s a process that takes commitment and consistency to produce value. If you’re unable or unwilling to give your new content marketer a minimum of one to two years to prove ROI, then don’t invest.

4. Do you plan on scaling up the team internally or using an agency to increase content volume?

One challenge you should think about early on is scaling up your new department. Determine whether you’d prefer hiring on skill or bringing in an agency that specializes in content creation and publishing. If you scale up with an agency that brings all the abilities you need, you can designate an internal team member to develop your strategy rather than finding someone to write, design, and handle the analytics, too.

5. Can you hire someone remotely?

An obvious upside of allowing talent to work from home is expanding your pool of potential candidates. At scale, large companies such as Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo! Inc. have recently taken away the work-from-home option, but there are many ways to successfully build and manage a remote workforce.

By answering these questions first, your search for a CCO will be easier, more efficient, and more effective in the long run. Separating the must-have skills from the would-be-nice skills will be important in differentiating candidates that are good on paper from those who will be good for your unique company. 

Josh Johnson is vice president of Influence & Co., a company that specializes in expertise extraction and knowledge management, which are used to fuel content marketing efforts.