Unless you’ve had your head in the sand or spent your time doing wholly more worthwhile things like actually talking to customers, you won’t have missed the hype and bluster that’s going on the in market today about Content Marketing.
In essence Content Marketing is an acknowledgement that today pretty much all “direct” and “cold” approaches don’t work or are at least hugely inefficient. The reason they don’t work is that today people do most of their pre-purchase research on line or via social media sites like LinkedIN etc. So in effect, Content Marketing is about helping people find you, your company, product or service based on you providing relevant, interesting and timely content in a manner they can find and read in their own time; as opposed to you breaking their door down and demanding an in depth conversation about what it is you want to sell.
Thank goodness, about time and of course it’s something we’ve all been saying for well over a decade.
So that’s great then it must be a Silver Bullet?
No. It’s very red and quite herring-shaped. Why?
Simply because if you’re not careful you switch all your efforts and resources from “bashing the phones” or “spamming out emails” to “generating tomes, info graphics and stuff” that people don’t, won’t and CAN’T read.
And you know, just like Direct Mail or Email campaigning, it will feel good for 24 hours or so after you’ve produced something beautiful and then pressed then “go” button on a massive mailing list…but chances are, the outcome will be the same. Very little.
The problem is that getting stuff out the door was never an issue. Making stuff look and sound great was never and issue either.
The real challenge was, is and has always been, getting the right person at the right time to read, understand and act.
Nowadays that person has a bit more than an “in tray” (for people under the age of 30 that’s something you had on your desk where things people put in a post box with your name on, arrived) to distract them; more than one email account to occupy them and significantly more resources, facilities and means of communication through which to do their own research and make their own decisions.
What’s not changed?
They still have (in the main) two eyes and two ears and 24 hours in the day…and they have no choice but to ignore, delete or reject 99.999% of “stuff” that comes their way.
How do you ensure you are the 0001% that actually gets read and acted upon?
So yes, producing intelligent, engaging and informative content is very much a worthwhile pursuit (unlike older mediums), it has a cumulative effect as it is referenced and archived on line (BTW- That can be a bad thing too!).
However, before you get beavering away with your latest missive, white paper or witty info graphic, I suggest you spend some time doing the bit pretty much 100% of your competitors don’t, won’t or can’t. That is, understanding precisely who it is you need to engage, precisely what it is they prioritize as their burning issue and why, how and what it is you do that can help them achieve their objective better than any one else.
If and when you can truly answer those questions comprehensively, then you can start to plan how to reach them, what they are searching for, what they need to read and how they need to read it and therefore what you need to produce.
Then you have a Content Marketing plan. Until then…you’re destined to go back round the “inevitable cycle of marketing doom and disappointment” only this time you may be accompanied by a strange fishy smell.