Wed 29 Feb 2012
I was hot on the trail of coalesced thought about five must-haves to succeed in content marketing, when the big brains at Eloqua & design wizards at JESS 3 hit me with something that was in one part great, and in another, part cautionary tale.
I’ll give you my thoughts a bit below, and in future posts, but check this out first.
This is for all of you who have reached out to me in the last month asking about how to create and share information with prospects and customers in a way that creates awareness, preference and — as this presentation contends — paying customers. This really hits the nail on the types of content to create and when to do it based on where people in your prospect pool are in the sales cycle. Really worth your time. Commit it to memory.
Cautionary Tale Ahead
As good as this deck is, however, what I’ve found in my experience, is that in trumpeting “Content Marketing” as the way and the light, marketers and their bosses get lulled into thinking … “Hey, if we get interns to blog and write a white paper our prayers will be answered.”
This is a career killer of ridiculous expectations unmet. Content marketing is or should be the linchpin in a much larger strategy. (more on that next time). For the purposes of managing expectations from people in the C-suite, the corner office and even your own, I’ve seen content strategy succeed or fail based on whether these five must-haves to succeed in content marketing were present.
1. Patience — If you’re ramping up a content strategy with the sole goal of generating revenue, you’re doing it wrong. This is a strategy, if executed well, that takes 3-6 months to develop and may not bare fruit for a several months after a campaign is launched. Content is a conversation. It is meant to walk people through the way they buy a product or service and serves up information as it is needed to make decisions or help others in their company reach conclusions. If your entire marketing strategy is a single piece of content or a content carpet-bombing of the marketplace for the purpose of having sales-ready leads, you will disappoint yourself and others.
2. A large library of information (bought or created) that targets people based on who they are, the problems they are trying to solve and how they make decisions.
- Are people unaware of your company and why its products are what they need?
- Do they need to narrow selected companies down to a list of 5 for a presentation to compare apples to apples?
- Are they selling it up into the organization to bosses and bean counters?
The answer to all of the above is YES. You better have content that addresses all of these things and more before you set the world on fire with your white paper. Otherwise You’ll always be playing catch up to the needs of your prospects.
3. Deep research to understand your universe of prospects, influencers and visionaries in your field. Start a content strategy at your own peril if you don’t know who you’re talking to and why.
4. A clear path to integrating content marketing into your sales/marketing go-to-market plans — Content is the conversation catalyst, accelerant and hopefully, the decider. It won’t deliver itself and it won’t build a relationship with a human being. Only you can do that.
5. A multi-dimentional content calendar that includes a strong blog, social evangelism and an asset creation strategy that is tied to news, events, interesting discussions and other topical engagements occurring in your universe. Notice how a blog or whitepaper talking about your product doesn’t fit this criteria? Good!
Oh, and 5a: A distribution and socialization strategy that uses all online and offline tools at your disposal that you can afford. How is your content being used as pay offs for these tactics:
- Social media engagement (company and external blogs, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter, etc.)
- Direct mail campaigns
- Email blasts
- Search Engine Optimization/Marketing efforts
- Paid online and offline advertising
- Earned media coverage
Content Marketing has a place in all of these inbound and outbound marketing tactics, which should be tightly woven into your larger, more theme-focused Go-to-Market strategy.
If there is one thing to takeaway from all of my words it is this: Content Marketing is absolutely vital for maintaining relevance in the marketplace. You need to incorporate it into your marketing efforts. That said, success will elude you unless you have an integrated plan, more than a modicum of patience and the persistence to keep developing the content the market needs — not just what you want to tell them.
Reach out if I can help.