Time to Stop Pretending About Content Marketing.
If you've been a bit distracted by the relentless pace of the change in online marketing, you may have missed all of the buzz about Content Marketing. With the power of self publishing on the Internet now in the hands of the many, claims about Content Marketing replacing advertising continue to increase in both volume and frequency.
What's more, advocates and a growing number of organizations are onboard with the idea that any brand can become a continuous publisher of content that their prospects and customers will find relevant and valuable. But before you drink the Kool-aid, fire your agency and set out to meet the new requirement to add “publisher” to your title and responsibilities, let’s step back a moment and consider what success in this emerging discipline might actually take.
First, what’s Content Marketing?
In a nutshell, it’s the fuel that drives successful:
- inbound marketing and lead generation
- search engine optimization
- social media marketing
Why is it now so hot as a marketing discipline?
Because prospects today have become more advanced and demanding. And it’s now up to a brand to quench their expectationswith valuable content that helps them make more informed and better decisions before and after they purchase a product or service.
What’s the point and what do you get?
The short answers to these reasonable questions include: 1. Search Engine Optimization Recent search engine updates now favor frequently published, unique and popular content. The result is that frequent and consistent creation of content to your site or blog is now required to drive traffic and support natural link building. 2. Referral Traffic Good problem-solving and/or entertaining content makes other websites and blogs want to link to it. The result of these highly valued connections is a 3-5X better conversion (action) than vanilla organic search. 3. Reason for Social Media Marketing Without real problem-solving and/or entertaining content to post in social media, what will you share? If it’s not obvious, we’ve long passed the days of tweeting about your lunch. So if you’re participating in Social Media, it should be enhancing traffic to your site from the content that you’re sharing in these channels. 4. Reputation & Sentiment ManagementBy actively engaging in content marketing, a brand can choose to lead the conversation about their domain of expertise. The cumulative result, over time, helps to build trust, positive sentiment and brand equity around the unique value that you offer to customers. If you think this is just a frivolous exercise, you can always trust that job to someone else. Perhaps your competitor?
What kind of investment do you have to make?
First, dismiss any notion that this is a no brainer, a piece of cake and anyone can do it. Assuming all of your effort is based on a content calendar, aligned with the needs of your target customer personaswith clarity on how the content asset will further the selling cycle to turn a prospect into a paying customer, there’s a lot that needs to get done for every asset that you create. So no matter how you slice it, hours and resources, per month, are going to have to be accounted for and applied to:
- Review and evaluate all content against an established Content Calendar or schedule
- For each content asset (think ebooks, blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, emails, newsletters, apps, tools etc.) initiate research, documentation, organization, meetings, calls, and more
- Assign to writer and/or graphic resource
- Draft, review, edit and revise content
- Conceptualize and integrate a unique CTA(Call to Action) for each asset that drives the outcome of what a viewer should do after looking at or consuming the content
- Design, develop and deploy a unique Landing Page optimized to enhance the desired action
- Acquire and/or create images that enhance the communication and retention of the content asset
- Optimize each piece of content for SEO including unique keywords, meta descriptions, alt tags and links to reference sources
- Review and approve content by a managing editor, client contacts and internal team
- Integrate and post the content with all of the HTML, code and content requirements of your CMS and web site
- Finalize, approve and publish the content at the appropriate time to enhance sharing and visibility by your target
- Distribute, promote and socialize the content to maximize the reach and exposure to your target in all of the channels where they spend time online
Anything but a one time event.
Make no mistake, success in this “continual content creation” endeavor will require a significant amount of work and participation by all parties: internal, external and everywhere in between It will not be a flip the switch process and expect iteration—with all of the dialogue and refinement required. However, your goal should be more modern, effective and measurable marketing that:
- supports how customers and prospects find or use products and resources through search
- fosters and supports relationships with prospects and existing customers
- aligns with the transformational marketing shift under way
Before you begin, you may want to set some modest expectations. Then immerse yourself and your organization in these new marketing methods soon.
And where are you?
Has your organization started down the path of Content Marketing? Are you finding success or have you turned around in dismay. Please share your experience.
As founder and president of Teamworks Communications, Inc., Paul Pruneau helps early stage and established companies develop communications and brand strategy, engineer content to express customer value, and create online solutions to help businesses succeed. To learn more about Paul and Teamworks Communications, just visit his blog, follow him on Twitter, or connect on Google+ or LinkedIn.
Other Posts by Paul Pruneau
Social Media Today