Content marketing is a clear cut strategy many businesses, especially those with low budget, see as the way-out of the challenges posed by today’s attention economy. The question is, is it?
In a clear attempt to help understand the differences between content strategy and content marketing, Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute, using a metaphor, writes:
“Content marketers draw on the wall with magic markers, while content strategists use fine pens.”
The trouble is this: many businesses don’t have magic markers, white boards, fine pens, or even a compelling need to engage with content marketing yet.
Plenty of businesses are still not taking up the task of deploying content strategies to work for their benefit. If they do, they aren’t doing a good job. With whatever little small, medium, and large businesses are doing, these half-boiled content strategies are probably hurting more than they ought to benefit.
The trouble is that creating a good content marketing strategy is new. While businesses need to keep digging into the collective heads of their leadership to keep the SWOT and Industry analyses coming, content marketing demands a new approach.
Numerous studies and guides have been written and rewritten, published and republished on how to get your content marketing right. So let’s see if there could be any dangers or disasters lurking in the implementation of a content marketing strategy.
Blog + Social Media + This + That
Blogs and social profiles are like opinions; everyone’s got one. It’s really not that hard to set up a blog and go active on social networks. It’s not hard to create (normal) content at all. If you mistake “creating” content to be “in line” with your content strategy, it’s not even the beginning, really. For effective strategy, you need an eye on results. So, ask yourself this:
What do you want this piece of content to achieve?
You could create content just for the sake of branding. You might want a blog post to go all over social media. Maybe you want your sales letter to help you sell more. Perhaps that copy on the landing page has a serious job of “conversion.”
Without an eye for results, content marketing is a job. Content strategy is fancy management jargon for “planning for disaster.”
It’s not about blogs and social media profiles; it’s about impact. It’s going back to the good old hag called “persuasion.”
How persuasive are you?
Half-baked Anything Sucks
You could be saying, in this order:
1. “Content marketing is hot.”
2. “Everyone talks about it.”
3. “We know of a few businesses that are doing it well.”
4. “Let’s try.”
While it’s good that you decided to take action, this approach is a half-baked one. Anything that’s half-baked sucks. These statements don’t come from businesses that depend on content strategy to plug into profits.
Content Marketing is still marketing and it calls for complete commitment to the cause. The cause, by the way, is to engage prospects, customers, and other stakeholders with stories and information packed with value.
Further, as Kathy Hanbury puts it, content marketing is a mindset. It’s a process backed by conviction that trust begets business.
Process and Results
Most businesses assume that content marketing ought to be a one-person, one-marketer approach. That’s true, in some cases, if you are an individual blogger. But since when did businesses start attempting to stand on one foot?
At least, for content strategy, there’s a way to do it. Content marketing fits into any budget (the more the spend, the better the results). Your content strategy won’t even qualify as “strategy” if there isn’t a set of tactics, resources, and the will to make it happen.
Good content marketing strategy requires a mix of efficient processes and content developed for results. I agree with Tommy Walker – as he articulated so well on Unbounce.com, you’re missing the point if you’re obsessing on traffic, bounce rates, and visits per day.
You can’t put it better than this:
“Marketing in its purest form is about doing exactly two things: Engaging the observer and compelling them to take action. That’s it.”
Every piece of content you create is an asset. If you prefer the Art of War speak, these are tactics. They are the weapons you use to engage and convert. Marketing should be all about that with your content strategy being the big, grand plan.
Now, let your horses go. Create content that resonates with impact. Make your content work for you, but start with an end-goal in mind.
Leverage and Scale, Collaboration and Teamwork
The rise of individual bloggers almost killed businesses. It’s tempting to think that one individual (usually the crazy marketer or the ambitious entrepreneur, and sometimes one individual with both of those qualities) can start the content engine and keep it running.
Even Rand Fishkin couldn’t write 5 blog posts per day for Moz forever. He had to scale up and grow. Similarly, Michael Arrington grew TechCrunch from a blog to a media powerhouse, but he was not alone. Ann Hadley waved a magic wand at Allen Weiss’s MarketingProfs, and it continues to be THE respected resource for marketers today. All of this happened thanks to teamwork.
Go take a closer look: The famous single-person blogs are no longer “one-person” endeavors anymore. Content strategy is never complete without a team, much like a startup can never succeed with just one person at the helm.
Embrace collaboration. Look to leverage and scale. Hire temporary staff or freelancers. Go lean if you want to. Scale organically, if that makes financial sense for you. Whatever you do, stop thinking that content marketing is a one-person sport. It’s neither a sport nor does it have to be one person’s responsibility.
Over to You
Not getting your content strategy – and hence your content marketing – right could ruin your business. There wouldn’t be a way to track your efforts all the way to results. Your content won’t make the impact it ought to. It cannot keep readers engaged, invoke reactions, or get you direct results such as conversions.
All that content created will be for nothing if you continue to be preoccupied with traffic and conversions without actually putting effort into creating content itself.
While creating the right content strategy need not have to be anything fancy, like the ones you find in marketing textbooks, it still has to help you achieve what you need.
What does your content strategy look like? What goes into it? How much of your ink, soul, and character does it take to create content that works for your business? Please talk to me in the comments!