I frequently speak at conferences and teach workshops where I preach about the benefits of a successful content marketing plan. I explain that it doesn’t matter what size your company is, what industry you’re in, or the possible budget you have – content marketing can work for any business. But top-down executive buy-in is absolutely critical.
By the time I finish, everyone is usually really pumped and leave with endless ideas on how they can utilize content marketing to generate more traffic, more leads, and more sales for their business. That is, until they get back to the office and need to convince their boss on the concept. Most of these employees are running into the number one issue with getting their boss to commit – it takes courage. Jay Baer, author of Youtility and President of Convince & Convert, recently discussed why courage is the most needed ingredient for any content marketing strategy. Let me take his points and expand on them:
To me, content marketing is about providing awesome, valuable content that offers solutions for your audience’s questions or issues. Great content is usually posted for free on a blog or website that works to help potential customers first. This is to build a trusting relationship with readers and establishes your brand as an expert in the industry. The fear is that people will not need you if you give all your information away.
But I say, people that are going to do it themselves will find the information somewhere and do it themselves. Your target market is those that do not want to do it themselves. Through the goodwill of your helpful content, you build a relationship with those people. With this strengthened relationship, when it comes time to use a related service or product, there will be only one brand the audience will trust – yours.
Trust works both ways with content marketing. On one hand, you are working to build trust with expert content; on the other, you are trusting that the potential customers will come back to you when it’s time to do business.
Every brand must understand that loyal customers are generated after establishing a relationship first, and a great way to solidify your business as an authoritative, trusted source is through providing useful, educational content.
As I have always said, content marketing should be treated as an ongoing philosophy and not a campaign with a finish line. It can sometimes be difficult to get decision-makers in your company to sign onto a content marketing strategy with little proof of ROI at first – but it does work.
Companies must have the courage to invest in content marketing, even if it is just a pilot program. Moreover, they must measure their successes and failures after a minimum of six months in order to adjust and improve their strategy for the best results.
One of the biggest parts of an effective content marketing strategy is to promote, distribute, and engage with every piece of content you publish. Engagement can take many forms; such as responding comments on your blog, providing feedback or answering questions from your FAQ section, responding to tweets and more.
Social media channels and blog posts allow the audience to interact with your brand in real time, and it takes courage to dedicate the time and stand by your brand’s views, opinions, or expert advice in order to build on a positive relationship with prospective customers.
Farming is a risky business. Just like content marketing, it can be very rewarding. But also just like content marketing, it takes planning, hard work, and patience. I am no farmer, but I understand the concept of preparing the field, planting the crops, nurturing them as they begin to grow, and harvesting the rewards many months later, assuming no natural or man-made disasters have ravaged your hard work.
I’m not a hunter either, but that approach requires less strategic planning than it does tactical design. The results are immediate, but also short-lived – much like the “spray and pray” approach to content marketing.
Content marketing takes courage, trust, and dedication. But doesn’t every worthwhile endeavor?