Is Your Content Marketing Shortsighted?
Content marketing is past the early adopter phase. The proof is that half of marketers have a content marketing strategy in place according to IMN research.
Most marketers coordinate their content marketing goals with their metrics. The challenge is that, with the high growth of content marketing, many organizations are making significant errors that hinder their business results.
Content marketing had been around for years. Here are three examples:
- Custom magazines. John Deere’s magazine, The Furrow, started in 1895, is considered the first custom magazine. The Furrow is still going strong reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 countries. Custom publishing has become an important revenue generator for many print media entities.
- White papers. White papers started in government in the 1920s and became a sales and marketing tool in the early 1990s. The mainstay of B2B marketing for years that enticed prospects with the lure of free information, white papers are no longer confined to black text on white paper. Now they’re also called e-books and presentations and are dressed in alluring graphics and branding.
- Recipes. Jell-o was one of the early products to use recipes to give prospects an idea of how to use their product. 1904: Jell-O salesmen went door-to-door, distributing their cookbook for free. Touting the dessert as a versatile food, the company saw its sales rise to over $1 million by 1906. (It’s no surprise therefore, that Kraft, current owner of Jell-o, is one of the top food sites. At the heart of their website—you guessed it: free recipes highlighting how to use their products. (BTW—they launched their custom magazine using the list from their website to over a million people!)
Since content marketing isn’t new, what’s driving its exponential expansion? The answer is the convergence of these three factors:
- Expansion of social media. It’s no longer just Facebook. Participants spend a significant amount of time on a variety of social media options. Beyond sharing and commenting, these platforms all feed on quality content.
- Increased use of multiple devices and multiple screens. This includes computers, smartphones and tablets. Owners have found new ways to increase their content consumption.
- Distrust of advertising. Consumers have developed promotion-detectors that can spot blatant marketing a mile away. What do they trust? Word of mouth and content.
As a result of this high growth, many organizations have rushed to put together their content marketing strategy. In the process, they make the following five content marketing errors and here’s how to fix them.
- Don’t audit their organization’s existing content. The goal should be to leverage what already exists within your firm maximizing resources by not re-creating information that you have. Content Marketing Fix: Go through all of the existing content across your company and audit it. Where appropriate use content as it is or update it if it’s useful for customers and cost effective to do. Bear in mind that budget is an issue for most marketers. IMN found that content marketing accounted for less than 10% of the marketing budget for almost half of their respondents. (Here’s how to audit your organization’s content in 7 steps.)
- Don’t utilize resources from across their organization to create content. When it comes to content, many marketers limit themselves to what’s created by their department. Content Marketing Fix: Find out where in your organization people are creating some form of information or content regardless of what it’s called or how it’s budgeted. Consider front line resources such as senior executives, sales, customer service, product, PR and MarCom. Work together to improve the value of your information while minimizing content creation costs.
- Don’t build their own media platforms. Developing content isn’t an end in itself. It supports your purchase process and contributes to your organization’s corporate assets. What would your firm do if Google dropped all of its listings? Content Marketing Fix: As part of your content marketing process, think in terms of building content marketing assets such as an email (or postal address) list, website, blog, video, podcast and mobile app installed base. (BTW—We’d be thrilled if you signed up for our emailings! Please see below.)
- Don’t offer quality content to meet customer needs. If your information doesn’t provide prospects, customers and fans with useful advice that helps them solve their problems then it’s not of any value. Only a quarter of the IMN respondents felt their organization’s content positioned them as a thought leader. Content Marketing Fix: Ask customers what information they want and need. Start by gathering prospect questions and answering them. Also show customers how to use and style your products. Target does a great job of this on Tumblr.
- Don’t engage with prospects, customers and fans to support content creation. Go beyond engaging with customers for engagement sake. Content Marketing Fix: Ask customers to share their photographs and stories. Don’t position it as: “help us create content” but rather: “let us put you in the spotlight.” Companies like Oreos and Patagonia are great at this.
As content marketing becomes a more established element of the marketing mix, businesses will become more efficient at leveraging their scarce resources to meet their needs. Content marketing is an iterative process.
What other errors do you see organizations making with content marketing?
P.S. Hat tip to Joe Pulizzi whose article, 6 Enterprise Content Marketing Traps To Avoid, inspired this post.
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