Content marketing. You know it when you see it. You also cry a little every time you see it done wrong. Here's why content marketing isn't working for you.
1 -- You Sound Like Everyone Else
If you really want your marketing to stand out from the crowd then you need to market differently than the rest of the people in your industry. Your customer is like a jumbotron and you and your competitors are like fans at a football game. If you really want to get the jumbotron's attention out of the sea of humanity that is a football game then you need to be that crazy loon dancing out of their seat. Does the Internet really need that 148,336th blog post about why social media is important? Think about it... that sounds as exciting as another rap song about cars and friendships with professional athletes.
Look at your own reading habits. You probably have your favorite writers, or columnists that you follow on a regular basis. Why do you think you read their pieces every week/month and not others? It's because they are entertaining to you and you like how they present ideas. They speak to you in a way that other people don't. Jim Cramer throws chairs on cable TV when he's giving stock tips while most people in that world stick to AM radio on weekend afternoons. Not sure where to start? Just look at how everybody else is doing content or inbound marketing in your industry and do the exact opposite of them.
2 -- You're Superficial
You know what is really causing you content marketing problems? Your content! Instead of going deep into a particular topic you just scratch the surface. You only give out your good stuff if you get paid for it or get an email address from somebody. Content marketing works extremely well if you're actually educating people. Not just giving them some fluffy information so you can get their email address and send them emails every day until they unsubscribe.
Make sure your next piece isn't superficial by providing data, images and an in-depth analysis to prove your point. Be prepared to back up your thesis statement with supporting evidence and acknowledge other points of view. That isn't as difficult as you think and you can probably produce one solid piece in the time it takes you to currently do two average ones. The bad news about trying to win at content marketing is that there are millions of content pieces (videos, blog posts, podcasts, websites, webinars etc) produced every day. The good news? Most of those pieces are the superficial type. If you provide detailed solutions to real problems your target market has then you'll already have a leg up on the competition. At that point you could just email the detailed piece to a handful of your target customers directly and call it a day. It would be more effective than the superficial piece for sure.
3 -- You Have No Audience
Marketing executives preach to customers to get on their digital-soapbox and spread their knowledge to the world loud enough and often enough. Then, in time, the right people will pause and listen. That works, but it takes time and a lot of effort in super-competitive industries. Remember, content marketing is two parts -- 1) creating great content and 2) promoting it. Most people forget the second part. If you're going to put in the time to create content then you need to put in the money to promote it. Some people are lucky and have a million people following them on social media. For the rest of us we can get our content seen by paying money for visibility in places where our target market hangs out. This could be as simple as sponsored posts on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Or, paying a blogger in your demographic to review your product or allow you to guest-post on their blog. It all works and it's a surefire way to get content marketing ROI faster than publishing and hoping for the best.
4 -- You're Going It Alone
The only one doomed to walk the planet alone is 80s Incredible Hulk (the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno edition). Why are you trying to do your content marketing completely in-house or having one person take care of this? Maybe the people in your marketing department hate sitting at a desk and producing content. Or, maybe they just don't have the time do it regularly or with any sort of strategy.
There are lots of content and inbound marketing agencies that can help you with the production and promotion of content. However, you need to be careful when picking one because they all sound the same and generally try to promote themselves using....content marketing (of course!) The best one for you may be one that has helped businesses like yours in the past or, even better, knows your market extremely well. The best content and inbound marketing agencies can also point to a laundry list of customers that they've helped generate business for. They can give you the extra sets of content creating and marketing hands you need and you'll be more like the modern Incredible Hulk...the one that saves the world as a member of the Avengers.
We know how powerful successful content and inbound marketing is when we see it. If done properly these tactics can result in a steady diet of sales and business opportunities for any business. Usually, most content and inbound marketing tactics start with a bang and everybody in the department is all in. Then, things get stale when results don't happen. Tweak your strategy instead of fretting.
About the Author:
Sajeel Qureshi is the Vice President of Operations at Computan. Computan helps short-handed marketing departments and marketing agencies get more agile by providing them affordable and reliable back-end support. He has a degree in business administration from St. Bonaventure University, and an MBA from Eastern Illinois University.