A few weeks ago, content marketing expert Michael Brenner posted on his blog a list of signs that a business is not ready for content marketing. He brings up an interesting point in that many businesses believe they need to launch a content marketing strategy simply because everyone else is doing it, even though they may not be properly equipped to do so.
If your business can relate to any (or many) of these situations, it’s likely you might need some preparation before launching a content marketing strategy. I’ve gone through Michael’s list and provided some tips on how to combat some of the signs your business might not be ready for content marketing.
Signs Your Business Is Not Ready For Content Marketing (with tips on how to change that):
-Your marketing leaders think content marketing is just a buzzword.
While content marketing might in fact be a buzzword, there is plenty of ROI surrounding the actual activities that it includes. Here are some great stats on the value of content marketing as well as it’s practical definition. When talking about content marketing to your marketing leaders, speak in specifics rather than broad generalizations.
-You don’t have a corporate blog, or you have a corporate blog but only publish press releases on it.
Before launching a blog, it’s important to figure out how you’re going to populate it. Consider playing around with a WordPress site and writing a few posts before you get started. Your blog won’t create itself and your readers won’t show up if there’s nothing there. A great way to fill up your blog with quality content happens to be curation!
-Social listening and share of voice does not drive your marketing strategy, and/or your social channels are only used to promote and push your webinars, white papers and events,
Start monitoring what your audience is talking about on Twitter. What are people saying about you? What types of questions are they asking that are related to your industry/expertise? Making a list of these topics and how you can answer them is a great way to kickstart your content marketing strategy.
-You get asked to make sure your content talks more about your products.
In fact, the more your content talks about your products, the less likely your audience is to trust you. It’s okay to include some plugs here and there – after all this is the point of content marketing – but the more genuine information you provide, the more trust you will garner, and ultimately, this will lead to more sales.
Be confident in the content that you create and add value, rather than trying to “go viral.” After all, what we think is viral today probably won’t be tomorrow.
-You haven’t mapped your existing or future content to buyer stages.
Create personas of the types of people who are buying your product or service, and then identify the steps that each of these personas take on the journey to a purchase. Content at the early stage of the sales process is broad, informative and helpful, mid-stage content is targeted, detailed, and personalized, and late stage content is extremely specific, extensive, and ROI focused as it’s often what your buyers need to be pushed over the edge.
-You don’t have any early-stage or thought leadership content.
What do you know about? If your company is in a specific industry, chances are you know a thing or two about that industry. By publishing content on external sites – as well as your own – you can become a known expert in this field. Being a thought leader isn’t going to directly lead consumers to your product, but establishing yourself as an industry professional will lead to more consumers trusting you and the company that you choose to represent.
-You haven’t defined an appropriate next step or “call to action” for your content.
People don’t assume that they should take an action. Actions are taken when specifically outlined and made simple. At the end of your blogpost, add a “Tweet this!” link or a “Sign Up for our Newsletter” button, and you’ll be surprised how many more actions are taken.
-You think content marketing is expensive.
Even the scrappiest of startups can afford content marketing. Some ways to keep it lean include repurposing content, leveraging existing audiences, curating other peoples’ content, and guest blogging.
-You don’t track how much of your content gets used and which does best.
Measuring what works and what doesn’t might seem like a daunting task, but ultimately, it helps you stay lean and spend less time and money on what doesn’t work in the future. If you aren’t trying to understand what types of content make an impact, chances of not being able to convince the rest of your team of the value in content marketing are way higher. Make sure you’re aware of what works and continuously using those strategies, rather than just guessing or assuming.
-You don’t know what keywords your customers are using.
Google’s Keyword Planner or Google Trends are just two of the tools you can use to figure out what types of words and phrases people are searching for and Moz is also a great tool to find out how you’re ranking for each of these terms. This is important because search is the way you’re discovered by those who don’t already know you exist (read: the majority of the world).
-You don’t have resources to publish on a regular basis.
If you aren’t in front of your customers or potential customers, they aren’t going to be thinking about you. Staying visible online is the only way to remind audiences that you exist, and publishing regularly is the best way to stay visible online. This doesn’t mean that you need to be producing original content every single day, but supplementing a few pieces of original content per week with curated content is a great way to keep relevant content flowing on a consistent basis.
-You don’t have dedicated testing resources for your content development and landing pages.
Use tools like Five Second Test and Optimizely to make sure you’re getting the most out of all of your web pages and pieces of content.
-You don’t think about the”share-ability” of your content. Your website gets less than 5% of traffic from social networks.
Make your content easy to share. Add social sharing buttons to each of your posts, as well as using tools like Click to Tweet to allow tidbits of your post to be shared with the click of a button. Take it a step further by putting images throughout your posts with important quotes or pieces of information that readers can easily save and post to social media.
-You create content without thinking about how to distribute and amplify it.
Do I even have to say “content is king, but distribution is queen?” Cliché as it is, if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? Producing content for marketing purposes is great, but if you’re not distributing it, no one is going to come to you looking for it. Mike Allton has a great list of places where he promotes his content. Tools like Scoop.it, HootSuite, Sprout Social, Argyle Social, and Percolate are great ways to distribute content socially.
While it’s almost impossible to feel fully ready to launch a brand new content marketing strategy, take some of these things into consideration and make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts before you dive into it. It’s also a great idea to create a skeleton strategy before simply beginning to create, curate, and share. Lastly, don’t forget to view your content marketing journey as a learning experience in and of itself and constantly check back to see what new things you can discover!