Content marketing has been dubbed a must have for every marketer's playbook. In fact, B2B marketers are creating more content than ever before, according to the Content Marketing Institute. While marketers are persuaded they must have a content marketing strategy, which lays the groundwork for success, there are six reasons why content marketing may not be for everyone.
1. Content marketing requires being systematic, not automated.
Marketing automation is heralded as a next big thing in marketing because it can facilitate the delivery and management of content across the customer journey. However, the production, analysis, and refinement of that content must come from actual humans who understand their customers and how to tell their stories across the right deliverables and channels.
If you are looking for marketing automation to stimulate the creative process and feed ideas, then content marketing isn't for you. Customer stories, aspirational messaging, social communities, whitepapers, and lead nurturing require custom content for each interaction - all complicated by customer expectations for perfectly personalized interactions.
In managing your content workflow, consider the evolution of your content, from awareness, to interest, to desire, to action.
- Start with mapping out the customer journey using previous customer testimonials to lay some of the groundwork.
- Chose the appropriate technology to further your marketing strategy.
- Most challenging, produce the content that will fuel the automation engine.
2. Content marketing is a social listening project and requires you, the brand, to be a very good listener.
If you aren't listening and tracking what your audience is saying, then content marketing isn't for you. Keeping well-informed with trends and tracking responses to content delivered by your brand will have a major impact on how current and potentially new audiences interpret your brand's message.
- Produce the content that will fuel the automation engine
- Launch your content
- Listen to what your audience is telling you
3. Smart content marketing starts with the desired result and works backwards from there versus retrofitting big ideas to correspond with desired results.
Content marketing isn't for you if you are big idea marketer that hangs your strategy on a clever, bigger than life idea. Purpose-driven content will:
- Build awareness
- Educate buyers
- Nurture leads
- Engage influencers
- Serve existing customers
- Cross- and up-sell
- Generate sales leads
- Establish expertise
4. Content must perform across channels, exist in multiple formats.
If you are a "create one piece of content and done" type of marketer, then content marketing will be extremely challenging for you. Your content shelf life will be longer if it can perform across the following channels:
- Analog (print and events)
and adapt to the following formats:
- Long-form (the full story with backup data and details)
- Short-form (an executive summary)
- Socialized (tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn group messages)
- Skimmable (videos and visualizations/graphics)
5. Content must appeal to each type of audience and customer.
Think of it as custom content that meets the specific needs of each customer: buyers, influencers, and existing customers. Customizing content helps retain the interest of the audiences you are trying to reach. Using relatable content or a previous customer journey resonates with those you are trying to reach.
6. Excellent content is deliberate, scheduled and well-planned.
If you don't use a strategic content marketing calendar, then content marketing isn't for you. There are four main categories that the scheduling of content falls into:
- Event-triggered - foreseen: planned events, or events with advanced notice. So it could be a conference, the Olympics, black Friday, etc.
- Event-triggered - opportunistic
- Buying sequence
- According to trends and patterns in your business: back to school if you are selling backpacks; end of your top clients' fiscal years; salmon season - it's those time-sensitive occurrences that are unique to your business or industry.
Similar to every discipline, content marketing requires strategic thinking, formal planning, creativity, and listening. Automation is promising but requires human collaboration and tweaking. If you are considering a content marketing program, then following in earnest the steps outlined above will help you achieve your marketing goals. If you aren't willing to put in the necessary work, and simply want to check the content marketing box, then skip it because content marketing isn't for everyone.