7 Hard Truths About Content Marketing That Will Make You Smarter in 2017
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Content marketing is undoubtedly the most overhyped, overused and least understood marketing strategy used by entrepreneurs, business owners and solopreneurs. Definitely it is not the cure-for all marketing that it’s made out to be.
Blogs, social media and videos has made it relatively easy to create and market content. Similar to entrepreneurship, everyone is doing it. The noise and competition is enormous, there lies the rub. Akin to the rhetorical “grass is greener at the other side”, it is difficult to get heard and seen by readers and potential customers.
Each day thousands of articles tell you how to be successful at content marketing, nearly most of them are click bait struggling to create a reputation. Ironically, most blogs and articles you read on content marketing are nothing more than worthless pieces of content.
Cutting through the unwanted, implement these 7 truths in your content marketing strategy to succeed triumphantly in 2017.
#1. No one gives a damn sh**t about your company until you give them a reason to
Does your content fill a void that your target audience faces? You’d be better off not doing content marketing at all, instead of writing about the benefits and features of your product or service all the time.
Do you research and create content to solve a well-defined pain point encountered by your ideal customer? Customer feedback surveys, listening to them on social media, customer contact forms and face to face customer interviews are ways to get to know the difficulties users face.
The most effective content is not about you, your brand or your product. Instead, it starts with acknowledging a clear pain point and showing the best ways to solve it (including your solution).
#2. Create engaging content with your product at the core
The best example of this is Epic Split video by Volvo trucks. The video showed Jean-Claude Van Damme doing splits between two Volvo trucks.
Sure, Jean Claude made the video more engaging. But, the heroes of this video were the trucks and the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering. The credits section at the end of the video describe the core product in a single line.
This video and other such examples (Intel – Meet the Makers) reminds us to not just focus on engagement but also present the product as the real hero or the co-hero of the content.
#3. Involve your whole company in content marketing
Since your employees talk and interact with your customers every day, they know exactly what goes on with the customer. They know the pain points, what they struggle with and the features they’re happy with.
These employees may not be trained in writing, but their insights are nuggets of knowledge that can be turned into helpful content for the audience. Not only are they important in brainstorming ideas, they play an important role in creating useful content.
Involve employee guest posts on regular basis on your blogs and on other publications. Readers will trust them more as they are the subject experts in your team. Team members from various departments contribute to the Buffer blog.
When employees are involved in the process of content creation, they are more likely to share and promote content with their network.
Convey the benefits of their involvement in the content creation process. This could be either monetary incentives or development of a personal brand.
#4. Content isn’t the king, promotion is
Your content is useless if it fails to get consumed. You’re better off writing one piece of well-reached, factually correct and grammatically correct blog a week and spending the rest of the days marketing rather than creating multiple mediocre blogs and spending less time distributing them.
Ways to promote and distribute your content include:
- Promoting in industry related communities – Share your articles and videos on online groups and forums where your target audience hangs out. Use these platforms to interact with influencers, bloggers and people interested in your product.
- Using social networks – Leverage social media to promote your content and encourage your staff to do the same.
- Share your posts through email newsletters with readers who have subscribed to your blog.
- Reach out to influencers you’ve mentioned in your blog. They’ll help you expand the reach by sharing the posts with their followers.
- Advertise your content through Google AdWords or by content syndication to reach out to a new relevant audience.
In the initial stages, try every outlet to find the 2-3 sources that generate the maximum leads and conversion. Based on this data, you can focus your efforts and time on the top 3 channels.
#5. Just do one thing well
A greater number of blogs and articles doesn’t lead to more traffic and leads. Numerous factors contribute to driving traffic to your blog, success isn’t achieved by dishing out more articles.
Every company is reading and following the very many articles that show them how to do content marketing right – write long form content (2,000+) words, write X number of blogs per week, include graphics, etc – that they end up fitting their content into these parameters.
Ask yourself that one thing that’ll differentiate you. Just do that one thing, and do it well.
What does your brand stand for? What perception do you want to drive and what value will you offer? Even if you create one video or article per week with matter that’s unique or offers a completely fresh view point, consistently week after week, your audience will value you for that. Consistency helps to create a connection of trust between your customers and your brand.
#6. Quality vs quantity is an endless debate
Everyone doing content marketing faces this dilemma of quality vs quantity. Create too much content and your quality suffers. Don’t create enough and the world class stuff will be too infrequent for the audience. And you’ll still hear “make it better” and “do it more frequently”. Both matter.
While there are times when quality out wins quantity and when quantity triumphs quality, consistency is the final winner. Because, not everything you publish is going to go viral. Some content needs to be good enough, while other content shouldn’t be published until it’s perfect. A video might
need numerous edits from multiple departments while publishing articles, social media posts and emails needs fewer edits.
Be more precise with your product related content but stay flexible with your content marketing.
#7. What’s old (and evergreen) is new again
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmark Report, the second biggest challenge faced by marketers, regardless of the organization size is producing content regularly. The solution for this is - let content repurposing be a forethought rather than being an afterthought.
Here are some ways to repurpose the published content:
- Update the outdated blog posts and share them with your email subscribers.
- Borrow content from blogs to publish ebooks and vice versa.
- Repackage a series of blog posts as an ebook.
- Convert a blog post into an infographic.
- Prepare a SlideShare presentation of your ebook and embed it in a blog post.
- Share snippets such as quotes, statistics and pointers on social media.
I recently came across an article about the 60+ content marketing predictions for a successful 2017 on the Content Marketing Institute blog. The author Joe Pulizzi shared the key trends and predictions in the article. The same article led to the ebook about the predictions and the SlideShare presentation at the bottom had quotes from the 60+ experts.
As said by Neil Patel, “Why reinvent the wheel when you can simply add more wheels to the machine?”
Which according to you is the hardest truth about content marketing? Would love to know in the comments below.