If you find it challenging to make the case for content marketing in your company then it’s best to think of your content as an asset. Once content is created it can live on in many forms and those forms are all brand assets.
No longer are we in the mode of a one hit advertisement and then it’s gone. Today content is uploaded to the internet and through the magic of Google is indexed and then found on demand. And if you know something about SEO and SEM you can help your content rise to the top with the right search criteria. Even if you aren’t playing the SEO game, your content is collateral that can be repurposed in a variety of different formats to suit the various stages of the buying journey and be used to support your core messages. Your buyers enter the buyer’s journey at different stages so it’s up to you to have the content that will best answer their needs.
So when it comes to your content marketing treat it not as a here and now exercise but as integral piece of your brand empire. Content exists to support other functions in your business, not as something that is created on the side.
Content marketing discontent
It’s easy to get jaded by content marketing if it isn’t working as expected. There could be a variety of causes. Firstly, in order to be successful at content marketing, you need a strategy. Without a strategy how will you know how effective your actions are? Or it could be that it is working but you’re not measuring it the right way. Perhaps you need to look for gradual improvements, not the overnight success that comes from viral content. Maybe it’s not a spike in your balance sheet but a smoother customer experience that your content delivers. For example, your content can deliver an improved customer experience which results in a speedier sales cycle. You can map when certain content was introduced and overlay the revenue picture over it to see if there are any correlations. Showing the relationship back to your content will take creativity and time. It’s just like the commitment you make to your brand strategy. The key is to take in the bigger picture.
Otherwise check your SEO. Perhaps your SEO isn’t working as well as it should and an audit is required. It could be that after a correction in your SEO you identify opportunities you’re missing for your content to be found. Get your SEO sorted to support your content production and promotion.
Get back to your purpose
As part of your strategy you should have decided why you create content at all. What’s the point of it? The trick isn’t just to keep producing content but to be clear why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for. Having a purpose is what will keep you engaged in the process even when things don’t seem to go your way. Your content will have its unique followers so it’s up to you to provide what they need, irrespective of what others are doing. Remember to not give up on your content experience just because your competition is ahead or better resourced than you. It will only distract you to look over your shoulder all the time.
In terms of getting super clear on your purpose, a good question to ask is how does the content match the buyer’s journey? What question is the content answering? If it answers questions that your buyers deem as irrelevant there will be a disconnect. It’s hard to get the attention of your audience at the best of times, don’t make it harder. Once you make your content relevant to your target market you’ll start to see results from it. From a commercial perspective, content needs to prove its worth. To do this keep the customer in the frame, recognise what you create is for them and not about you. This thinking will guide your content on the right track and meet your audience’s requirements.
Will they thank you?
“When we create something, we think, ‘Will our customers thank us for this?’ I think it’s important for all of us to be thinking about whatever marketing we’re creating; is it really useful to our customers? Will they thank us for it? I think if you think of things through that lens, it just clarifies what you’re doing in such a simple, elegant way.” — Ann Handley
I like this quote from Ann Handley. It helps to think this way about content marketing, particularly to reflect on the point — is it really useful to our customers? If your content doesn’t have relevance or usefulness to your customers then what’s the point of it? How are you helping them get on with what they need to achieve? How are you making their work life better? Isn’t that the point, that we’re all trying to better the existence of someone else whether that’s professionally or personally? This isn’t meant to be profound, just meant to highlight the basic requirement of our purpose. And if we can relate that purpose back to our content marketing the results will be richer and the output more rewarding for more people. These people being your customers and you.
Act and wait
Are you waiting long enough? Patience is needed. But you say you’re being asked for immediate results. Then you have to remember to share the story about the assets you’re building, how these assets are answering your customers’ questions and strengthening your company position. Ask yourself — if building a brand is a journey, are you committed to last the distance? You have to keep the faith because doing content marketing in a half-hearted way is no way to do it at all. Keep reminding yourself and others that it’s about the journey just as much as the destination. One aspect of this journey is the way you involve people and engage across your company to create content. Another aspect is how content creation gives people a chance to solidify their thinking and deepen their knowledge.
I saw it written that content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign. Jeff Bullas said “content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon”. Whether you’re a runner or not I’m sure you know the difference. Don’t short change your approach by chasing quick wins and then doing nothing.
Your content marketing success won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Content marketing requires time. You have to last longer than a few weeks or months before you deem it unsuccessful. If it’s answering the questions your customers are asking then you can be confident that it’s working for you. Be careful how you measure your results otherwise you’ll set up unrealistic expectations and give up before, or worst still, while, your content efforts are gaining traction.
Remember, content marketing is akin to relationship marketing — it’s the small investments you make over time that build to make the difference. You’re building assets which you can leverage and own forever.