Content marketing can do a lot of things for your business, but don’t let the thought of it send you off the deep end. Why isn’t content marketing working for you? Here are a few of the most common reasons. I’ll spend a little bit more time on the first few because they’re the most important. See if you can identify with any of these.
Believe it or not, you can get away with posting content that doesn’t reinvent the internet. A lot of business leaders get hung up thinking everything they post needs to be earth-shattering. That’s an impossible goal and one that will set you up to fail. Instead, aim for other adjectives to describe your content: useful, engaging, insightful, etc. This is how you truly connect with your audience. You may also be trying to impress the wrong people. You’re not writing for peers and other experts. Instead, your content needs to reach your customers, address their problems and concerns and communicate with them on their level.
They’ll see the value when you can translate the complex problems your product or service solves into a clear solution. This sort of simplification and use of plain language is not “writing down” for your audience — it’s reaching out to them. “Industry trends, general news items that are trending, and common questions from customers provide a lot of content ideas,” Technology Seed Marketing and PR Manager Katie Bisson explains to me. “We figure if our customers are asking, others are probably asking as well,” she says.
Michele Linn, vice president of content at the Content Marketing Institute, recommends mining conferences and trade shows for ideas. “Attend the conference in the eyes of your audience. What would they find useful? Then take the best insights you have learned and turn them into a summary blog post or SlideShare. Also, think about ways you can use the content you create to connect with people at the event, and follow up with them after.”
Wait a minute… You’re telling me that your customers aren’t devouring your recent blog post titled, “Five Reasons to Visit Your Chiropractor.” That’s probably because that article has been written 2,000,000 times… this week. And let’s be honest, your customers aren’t robots. So why should they be happy to read the same thing over and over again? Instead of creating what you think you’re supposed to be creating, create what you want to create. I guarantee it will be more authentic and engaging than the processed content that I see on every single website on the internet. When your content is raw and has a bit of your personality mixed into it, it will stand out as something new and refreshing. And your customers will reward you for it.
So, spend a little time auditing your campaigns and have some self-awareness when it comes to its weaknesses. Once you’ve identified why things aren’t working out, take the proper steps to get the campaign into shape and you’ll be happily surprised with the results.
Whether you call it a funnel or a customer journey, what you’re describing is the steps your customers take in order to discover your company, decide whether they want to use your services or products, and then ultimately become a customer. Now, at different points along the journey the customers will have different questions they need answered. But if you’re constantly just giving them the same content that says the same thing over and over again, how are they going to get answers to their varied questions?
Instead, you need to craft content that addresses each concern they’ll encounter while they’re deciding whether to patronize your business or not. You can identify these by going through the journey and putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Ask the questions they would ask and see if you’re adequately answering them. If you’re not, it’s time for new content.
Sure, you might think you know who you’re targeting. But do you really know who they are? Do you know their fears, their hopes, their problems, and the way they enjoy consuming content? Or do you just think that they’re a stick figure person with a sign that reads, “40-year-old male” hanging from their neck?
To really understand your customers and clients, you have to build out extensive buyer personas that don’t just touch on their demographics, but also their psychographics. Learn as much about them as possible. Once you understand who they really are, now you can speak to them and really engage with them.
Companies who spend a lot on marketing are able to grow their markets faster than companies who don’t spend as much. To put it another way, you get what you pay for. If you want results with content marketing, you need to spend enough money to make a difference.
I don’t mean to be rude, but I got to say it. Sometimes, the content just plain sucks. Content marketing means that you have to produce content, but the quality of that content is of utmost importance. Churning out shoddy content does have an impact on your brand, but it is a negative impact. It makes your brand look bad and perform poorly.
Let me point out a few of the reasons why content sucks:
You don’t know what kind of content to produce. Nearly every business struggles with how to produce engaging content. Coming up with a theme, topics, angles, and something new is challenging.
You simply hired an inexpensive writer. This is a big one; I see it all the time. A business wants to do content marketing, so they go out and hire a writer for ten bucks an article. They give them a list of topics, and let them have at it. Then, they post these articles on their blog. Content marketing, right? Wrong. Usually, this is a waste of money. Such efforts are not strategically guided. What’s worse, is that the content itself is of very low quality. Many times, writers don’t know your industry well enough to be competent as a blogger in that industry.
You’re boring. Lots of content out there is mind-numbingly boring. To be truly engaging, content must be in-depth, valuable, focused, and well-written.
Since everyone today is doing content marketing, it’s harder than ever to stand out in a crowded content marketing. If you want to succeed, you need to produce better content than the average content marketer. It’s not easy, it’s not cheap, and it won’t happen overnight.
The content marketers who are struggling the most are those that are in really hard industries:
Industries where people aren’t online.
Industries that not many people know about, mostly B2B.
Industries that are unsexy. “Stud welding techniques” isn’t quite as viral as “how to get a million more Twitter followers.”
If you’re in a tough niche, there’s no magic key that will produce instant success in your content marketing. You’ve simply got to strategize regarding the most effective form of content, and keep at it.
I’m one of the planet’s biggest fans of content marketing. I can tell you stories of other successful companies, and even share statistics of the insane amounts of traffic and revenue that I’ve been able to generate from content marketing. But maybe all this breathless excitement over content marketing has raised your expectations a bit too high. Let’s all step back, take a deep breathe, and get realistic about content marketing. You might not double your traffic or triple your revenue.
No one wants to read your brochure. I mean, when was the last time you had a hankering for someone to interrupt you and sell you something? That’s what I thought. Fact of the matter is, most people are more interested in their own problems and would rather you help them solve those. So, if you can read through your content and it sounds a little “salesy” then it’s time to recreate it with your customer in mind. Start with their problems and teach them how to solve them. Once you’ve done that, you will have created a relationship of trust. And building a relationship between you and the customer is really what your campaign’s goal should be.
Many companies have focused their content efforts on increasing brand presence and inbound web traffic by generating blogs, white papers, infographics and video, and they push that content out through email and social media. That’s a good start, but with the sheer amount of content out there for people to consume, you can’t assume that’s going to be enough for people to find you anymore.
Not to say it doesn’t happen, but it won’t happen enough to move the sales needle. B2B Sales cannot live on inbound alone, and without a thorough conversion strategy and process for lead nurturing, it’s all just branding and awareness. Demand generation requires a complete marketing program that not only attracts prospects to your website, but also converts them into leads, nurtures them over time through their unique buying journeys, and assists the sales team to close each deal. You must convert this anonymous audience into known prospects for sales reps to have meaningful, consultative business conversations.