Weird thing for a copywriter to say, but it’s true.
I’ve put up lots of posts over the years – all full of good information. But no one reads them. If a blog has no traffic, it sucks.
But why does it suck?
Content marketing wasn’t the right strategy for me.
(Is it now? That question will have to be answered down the road...)
Content marketing has a lot of things going for it.
- It’s relatively low cost. It costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and generates 3x as many leads per dollar spent.
- Content marketing builds trust
- It establishes you as an expert
- It builds a connection to your target market and keeps you top of mind
But it can also be a complete waste of time and money if you do it wrong - and lot’s of companies do it wrong.
They don’t understand what content marketing is, and how it works.
What is content marketing?
Ann Gynn (Owner of G Force Communication and formerly of Content Marketing Institute) explains it like this:
“Content marketing is a marketing strategy to create, publish, and promote content that attracts and retains an audience, some of whom ultimately will take an action to purchase the company's products/services (or to support/recommend the company's products/services).
It's about writing blog articles, converting those readers into an email list who then regularly receive your newsletter that helps them address the challenges they have related to your industry. Then, when it comes to buy, they recognize your brand as a trustworthy and valuable resource that's worthy of their dollars. Each step in that process is a conversion that leads to the ultimate conversion (i.e., the sale).”
Here’s an example of how content marketing should work:
Say you have a problem with patches of your lawn dying. You try fertilizing the lawn and the grass keeps dying. You go online looking for answers. You find a detailed post on Jim’s Expert Landscaping’s blog on picking the right fertilizer for your grass. While reading you discover that some fertilizers are actually toxic to certain specialized types of grass – and guess what kind of grass you have?
You switch fertilizers and your grass starts coming back. You start reading other posts and following the Jim’s Expert Landscaping’s social media. You get all sorts of useful insights and your yard really starts to come together. They even have green pest control tips: crumpled paper bags keep away wasps and setting up a bat house keeps your yard clear of mosquitos. (Try the paper bag thing. It actually works.)
Thanks to the lawn care company’s content, you have a great pest-free summer in a yard you're proud of.
Next year rolls around and you decide you want to plant some trees. Your kids want more of your time. And you are just sick and tired of putting in all the hours required to keep your yard nice. It’s time to hire a lawn care service.
Which lawn care service do you hire? Jim’s Expert Landscaping who gave you all the insights to get your lawn looking perfect in the first place? Or their competition who just send out the standard “15% off lawn care if you call now”?
You call Jim’s Expert Landscaping. The blog and social media posts just got Jim’s Expert Landscaping another customer.
That’s how content marketing works.
But just because it works for Jim’s Expert Landscaping there’s no guarantee it will work for you.
Is content marketing the right strategy for you?
I asked Ann how she helps clients decide whether content marketing is a strategy worth pursuing.
“Prospective clients often come with an idea of what they want from a tactical perspective such as "We want to grow our Instagram presence" or "we want to do a newsletter."
Whether they have an idea of what they want or just want to know they should be doing 'content marketing," my first question is always some version of "Why?"
Why do you want to do that? What do you want to come from that effort? How does that connect to your organizational goals?”
Content marketing is about building and maintaining a relationship with your customers. That way when it comes time for them to buy, you’re positioned as their number one option.
If you’re looking for new sales today – or next week – content marketing is not the right use of your time. (This was my mistake. I understood how content marketing works, but I wasn’t willing to put in the time long term to really build momentum and make it a viable strategy. I wanted new clients ‘today’. And so my content marketing efforts remained half-assed and ineffective.)
If you want to build an engaged customer base that buys from you regularly, and spreads the word about your company to their friends and family… Content marketing is worth looking into.
What are the keys to successful content marketing?
You need to understand your customers and their problems. Then you need to create content that addresses those problems directly without selling your products or services.
A common piece of advice is to create a buyer persona (a detailed description of your ideal customer) and then create your content to engage that persona.
What pain points can your content address? What questions do they have that your content can answer. What needs can your content satisfy?
Be aware that creating content your audience wants isn’t enough. You have to know what your goals for that content are. Where does it fit in with your larger marketing plan? Where does your content fit in the buyer’s journey?
If you don’t know what the buyer’s journey is, stop reading and go here now.
TL;DR: What’s the minimum you need to know?
You need to know if content marketing is the right strategy for your current marketing plan.
If you’re after new customers right now, content marketing is going to be a waste of your time and money.
If you want to build an ongoing engaged relationship with your customers, and attract new highly qualified prospects over time, then content marketing is a great strategy with high ROI.
Have some questions? Interested in learning a bit more about content marketing and if it might be a viable strategy for you? Ask away!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or connect with me on LI.