Happy customers: you’ll find them at the heart of every successful marketing campaign ever. But they’re not daft.
That means they won’t waste their precious time reading, watching (and certainly not sharing or engaging with) anything that doesn’t genuinely interest them. What’s more, their attention span is short: if your content is not compelling, they’ll be gone.
However – and this is the good bit – your absolute hottest prospects, best clients and future advocates of your brand are deeply, genuinely interested in exactly the things that your brand is great at. They care about the same stuff that you do. Their values align with yours, and they like the cut of your jib.
That’s what makes them your perfect prospects.
All that you need to do, is to let them see that.
And THAT is why it’s time to overcome the barriers and embrace content marketing.
Whether you are making the most of it or not or not, your digital content is already the mainstay of your digital brand. Everything that you say forms part of the body of evidence that demonstrates the character, experience; insight; leadership and ‘connectedness’ of your brand, reinforcing your customers’ sense that your brand is the right fit for their particular needs.
(Say nothing, and your silence will also speak volumes – and not in a good way. If your perfect prospects can’t find the evidence they need to convince them that yours is the brand they’re looking for, chances are that they’ll keep looking until they find what they need elsewhere.)
That, in a nutshell, is the case for content marketing. But can it really work for you and your brand? I believe it can. Here are the six most common barriers to success in content marketing, and how to overcome them:
1: I just don’t have time for a content strategy!
There’s no rule that says you have to work on your content strategy all day, or even every day: it’s your strategy, and YOU’RE in control of how much time you choose to commit to it. Be smart about it: a good Content Strategy doesn’t need to be overwhelming: it just needs to be structured and regular.
This is good for your audiences, who can develop a sense of what they should expect from you. It is also good for you as a small business, as it puts you in full control of your own communications commitments and means that YOU get to choose the channels, posting format and posting schedule that fit most seamlessly with your own core workflow and commitments.
2: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, WordPress … where do I even start?
Before you panic, remember: there is no obligation to be seen everywhere. It’s up to you to choose the right channels for you: and the best channels are those that best suit your clients behaviours and your own resource and commitments. Empty or under-used content channels are worse for your brand than no channels at all, so don’t feel obliged to spread yourself too thinly: better to use one or two channels well, than half a dozen channels badly.
3: Rabbit in the headlights: I don’t know what to say
Formalise your content mix with a thematic content plan: it is much easier to stick to a content strategy when you have guidelines to follow. I recommend, therefore, that you identify a mix of topics that you feel comfortable with achieving, based on your own resources and expertise, and use it as the basis for your strategy.
For instance, your strategy might be 30% case studies and interviews; 30% industry news; 20% top tips; 20% your own original thought. Having guidelines in place can help you to identify or generate relevant content when you’re low on time and inspiration.
4: I don’t know how often to post
Commit to a content calendar: consider how frequently you are realistically able to produce or share content, and create a simple schedule to help you stay on target.
For instance, at the outset you may task yourself with producing one blog or video and one email newsletter per month. You might decide to support this with perhaps ten tweets, three Facebook posts and one LinkedIn post per week, as a starting point. The precise frequency is up to you: but whatever posting schedule you settle on, its scale and scope should be based on your understanding of your target customers’ needs, as well as your own capacity and resources.
Consider scheduling your content using Hootsuite or similar: that way, whenever a content idea comes to you, you can schedule it to post at an appropriate time without ‘overloading’ your networks or allowing gaps to appear.
5: More content channels means more work
Well, maybe … but it’s not as bad as you think. Create a hierarchy of content by focusing on the relationships between your content channels. This is a great way to keep admin and time wastage to a minimum, whilst ensuring that each piece of original content is exploited to the full on every channel.
For example: your YouTube channel and/or blog may be at the top of the hierarchy; this is where your original content is created. Your Facebook page or email newsletter may share elements of your blog, directing customers back towards it. One of your LinkedIn posts each month may do the same. Your Twitter feed may link to each piece of original content several times each month, using a different mix of headlines, extracts and facts and figures each time to keep the feed fresh whilst continually inviting viewers to engage further on your website.
In this way, every item of ‘original’ content is exploited strategically across every channel, with messages tailored to suit the needs of that particular platform.
6: Content marketing is too fluffy: I can’t quantify the results
Far from it. With proper measures in place, tracking the performance of your content strategy is the least fluffy thing in the world. Most of your customer engagement will happen online, so the good news is that you can measure EVERYTHING. As your strategy evolves, you can keep track of exactly what works and what doesn’t, and fine-tune your content mix and calendar accordingly.
Use Google Analytics to benchmark traffic to your website at the beginning of your content marketing strategy. Set up Goals within Google Analytics and track conversions, as well as keeping track of the ‘stickiest’ posts and most effective social media channels. Review regularly and tweak what you do accordingly.
Want more on content strategy? See my Slideshare presentation on using content marketing to supercharge your PR.
Want to talk about your content strategy or customer profiling? It’s one of my favourite topics! Drop me a line today.