In the course of working with brands across the business landscape, a few questions come up time and time again. What is content marketing? Why is it important? Who should care? What should they do about it?
It reminds me of the classic journalism approach of answering the who? what? when? where? why? and how? questions to get to the bottom of every good story.
So here are the answers to some of those burning content marketing questions.
WHY IS CONTENT MARKETING IMPORTANT?
Content marketing is important because the world has changed dramatically since we started adding information to the internet. Add this to our ability to connect with anyone in the world at any time, as quickly as speaking to someone in the same room with social networks and our mobile phones.
Traditional marketing is broken. 86% of TV ads are skipped. 99.99% of banner ads are ignored. US Newspapers have lost $40 Billion in the last 10 years. Advertising isn’t working for publishers or brands because we have been taught to tune it out. This is down to the overwhelming number of ads we see on a daily basis.
Brands need a new way to connect with their audience. The approach that is working is the continuous creation of content people want. That’s content marketing.
WHO NEEDS TO WORRY ABOUT CONTENT MARKETING?
Strategic digital marketers need to understand the importance of content marketing. They should be able to define it. They should be able to talk about why it’s important in today’s multichannel world of digital, social and mobile. They should be able to point to good examples of it. They should be able to discuss how to get it done in their organizations.
This starts with the owner and his or her role in building a culture of content that connects with the target audience. And it falls all the way down to the person building websites, creating social content and building editorial calendars.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES MARKETERS MAKE WITH CONTENT MARKETING?
The biggest mistake marketers make is thinking that this is just another tactic where you can promote yourself. We did that with social. As Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter have emerged, brands started pushing out the same old ads they used on more traditional channels. But social networks are just the plumbing. It’s content that fuels social connections. Content that people want to consume and share. That’s why the short form video has recently taken off so much in recent years.
So many marketers think in terms of campaigns and promotions. When their audience is looking for stories – entertainment that makes them smarter, makes them laugh or inspires them in some way. Effective brands are taking themselves out of the story. They make it all about the audience. They don’t talk about themselves or their product but they talk about what they do for their customers. They talk about how we can make the world a better place.
As the mother of content marketing Ann Handley likes to say, they make the customer the hero of the stories they tell.
HOW CAN YOU GET STARTED WITH CONTENT MARKETING?
Brands typically get started because they are seeing their marketing efforts suffer and they are seeing their competitors take leadership positions as publishers in their markets with information that customers are looking for.
Brands should begin by trying to understand who they are trying to reach and how their brand can help that target audience. You should then start to identify the questions your customers are asking, the content they consume and the places where they hang out online. Then, begin to craft a strategy to help the client meet those customers’ needs with content – delivered regularly, across many channels and types.
WHEN SHOULD A BRAND GET STARTED WITH CONTENT MARKETING?
Every business, whatever its size or revenue, needs to have started with content yesterday. Or they risk losing market share as they lose mind share to their competitors. Or not building up any.
You can get going in as little as 30 days. (I’d be happy to help 😉 Within 90 days you could be a leader on certain topics. Within a year, you could begin to see a return on the investment. Or even sooner depending on how well you execute. Within 3-5 years, the content marketing efforts could become the largest source of value the marketing organization brings to the brand.
WHAT ARE THE COMMON ROADBLOCKS TO CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS?
The common roadblocks to success, besides the fear and lack of courage to change, are leadership support from the top.
Content marketing needs to be a owner-led initiative. He or she needs to put someone in charge and give them the budget and the resources to get it done.
The next thing is usually skills. Training and enablement are one of the key responsibilities of the content marketer because the content is created all over the organization.
Finally, brands need the technology to manage the flow of content between their people, and all the channels they manage. This is the only way for content marketing to scale across the enterprise.
HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE ROADBLOCKS?
Strategies to help brands get unstuck include a competitive assessment or doing some social listening to determine if your brand is losing market share where it counts – on the digital, social and mobile web.
Additionally, brands should look at their content inventory and see if it is performing.
Finally, marketers need to shift investment away from the tactics that aren’t working. It’s not to say that advertising will ever go away, but we are seeing many brands shift investment away from their paid advertising and into content marketing.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CONTENT MARKETING?
Brands need to plan for the future. Today.
In just 2 years 90% of the web will be video and images. The next generation already resort to using emojis and images more than words to communicate.
So we need to be ready for entertaining, visual and fun content that can scale.