2013 was the year of content marketing – the concept went from new, shiny object and buzzword to trusted marketing strategy.
Now, content marketing has established itself as the backbone to building and maintaining relationships with customers and potential customers, but there are still some misconceptions about content marketing that require dispelling. With a clearer outlook on the role of content, marketers will be able to chart a course for success during the remainder of 2014.
Myth 1: Content Marketing Is Creating a Tangible Asset, Such as a Report, Blog Post, or Video
Let’s clear something up: A report or a blog post is a piece of content. Your inspiration and reason for writing that article or document, the audience you had in mind, how the piece ties into overall plans and goals, along with distribution and promotion plans – that is content marketing.
Content marketing is more than producing content or a single campaign; it’s an evolving program to reach, communicate, and engage with your audience that takes planning and refinement.
If you don’t have a content or editorial calendar, now’s the time to set one up. Building a calendar will help you organize your ideas and themes and create a cadence for publishing and distribution. This will help you see the full picture rather than just focusing on a singular output.
Myth 2: Once the Content Is Produced, the Job Is Done
This is what many dub the “If you build it, he will come” effect. Marketers can’t just keep their fingers crossed and hope something gains traction and visibility. After all, what good is great content if no one sees it?
It’s likely most pieces won’t go viral – and virality should not be the motivation going into content creation – but compelling, well-executed content has the potential to compel your target audience to take action if it’s properly disseminated in the market.
Make a list of distribution channels and activities. Having a standard checklist of ways to promote your content is a good start but also think about other ways to give your content an extra boost.
For example, perhaps you always write one standard social media post per new piece of content; why not instead make a list of five to 10 options that highlights different aspects of the same piece of content then amplify the best performing social post with paid promotion?
Don’t forget to enlist your fellow employees to help spread the message too. Provide your internal team with a cheat sheet of the key takeaways and some sample messages to help get the word out.
Myth 3: You Can Get by on ‘One-Size-Fits-All’ Content
Not every one of your potential customers is the same – they have varying challenges, motivations, and desires – so thinking that the same piece of content can cater to all your audiences’ needs is unrealistic.
Content Marketing Institute’s survey highlighting B2B Content Marketing Trends revealed that the majority of organizations tailor content based on industry trends. Keying in on timely topics is a natural alignment, but marketers should strive to go another level or two deeper and customize content based on audience types and buying stages.
Develop buyer personas to really get to know your key targets. Go straight to the source and talk to your customer service team and your customers themselves!
By shifting the focus to strategizing about audiences (rather than just producing content), you’ll be able to answer some key questions regarding who your content is intended for. Ultimately, this more targeted content may reach fewer people but more of the right people.
Myth 4: Constantly Putting Out New Content Keeps Everything Fresh
It’s important to take time between each content initiative and not oversaturate the market just to get your organization’s name out there. Think: quality over quantity.
Many organizations are just starting to build out dedicated content teams and can be strained for resources in the beginning. Everything an organization puts out doesn’t have to be brand new content.
There are so many ways to reuse existing content and marketers should take advantage of this! Content is only stale is you let it become that way.
Remember that content calendar? Don’t forget to include opportunities to repurpose and revive your strongest content. Keep a running list of ideas that bubble up from previous pieces and find ways to extend the shelf life of your content.
Check your analytics too and see what types of content are resonating most – perhaps there is an opportunity to create a recurring and easily replicated series or franchise that could become your signature piece.
What Does It Boil Down To?
Content marketing is about cultivating two-way conversations and building relationships and that takes time (and money!), iteration on your message and your tactics, and a well thought-out strategy.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and a great content marketing strategy can’t be developed overnight. Make the investments now to lay the foundation to build out your program, and avoid these common pitfalls along the way.