Is Content Marketing a Waste of Time?

How much money do you spend on your content marketing?

If you can’t immediately answer this question, there’s a good chance that you’re either wasting resources on an undocumented strategy or sitting on a goldmine of unexploited content.

If you don’t know what the cycle, budget, timeline and lifespan of your content marketing looks like, it’s time to create a document content strategy. If you think you’re too busy to pay attention to these fine details, you’re wrong; measuring ROI is an essential part of every marketer’s job. It’s a weak excuse to be uninformed about the ins and outs of your content marketing, even if it’s executed by a junior staff member.

If you have a documented content strategy and still don’t know how much you spend on content marketing, it’s likely you have not done enough work promoting your content. In other words, no one has seen it. As the old adage goes, if a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it? Likewise, content that gets an organic lift of only 20 people, no matter how great it is, has not fulfilled its destiny as a marketing asset.

If either of those scenarios applies to you, then your answer to the title question at hand would be, “Yes, content marketing is a waste of time.” You’re using tons of valuable resources—brainpower, design, copywriting, social media marketing—to get nothing in return. That bodes terribly for your business, not to mention your job security.

So how can you turn your content marketing sinking ship into a vessel of lead generation, brand visibility, SEO, branding and more? Here are three steps to setting sail with success:

1. Put the right people in the right seat(s)

The majority of content writers are navel gazers. They are fantastic at pumping out content but have no interest in promoting it. They want the world to recognize their genius but won’t take the necessary steps—which perhaps as “artists” they consider risks—to let the world see it and critique it.

That’s why it may be a good idea to hire two separate people for content marketing efforts: one who does the writing (the brooding, misunderstood artiste) and one who does the promoting (the shameless, in-your-face, oversharing, social media type who isn’t afraid of the limelight).

Obviously, these are exaggerated personae of the two, but you do need some combination of both of these energies to make your content run smoothly – particularly if you’re a lean team with no built-in mass audience.

2. Keep an organized, updated content inventory

The best way to conduct a content inventory is to keep an organized file of the assets you create from the very beginning. However, if you haven’t kept a running file of your content since its creation, not to worry. You can still always go back and track down all of your assets, it’s just more of a pain.

Once you’ve established your inventory, conduct a weekly, monthly, or quarterly (as resources permit) audit of all of your assets. Look at what historically performed well and decide if it needs a refresh or an overhaul to be relevant and timely again. Try to understand why certain assets didn’t do as well and figure out what they need to be more successful the second time around.

3. Train your entire team to be a self-starting machine of reliably strong content

Look, you can’t knock it out of the park every single time. One of the most important parts of your marketing plan, as in life, is showing up.

Establish a regular cadence of solid content. Not every piece will go viral, but when you do write that perfect listicle that really resonates with Millennials or Gen Zers or Boomers or whoever your target audience is, you’ll want to have a ready suite of whitepapers, podcasts, video trainings, and more to keep your audience lingering on your website. If your marketing team maintains a rhythm of content production, its regularity will eventually pay off.

Creating the right roles and filling them with the right people is an essential first step in making content marketing effective and efficient for your organization, but it’s just as important to feed the content beast. Tracking your asset inventory with precision and teaching your entire team to always have their “content creator” hats on are also imperative. Keep these priorities top of mind and you’re not likely to see content marketing as a waste of time any longer.

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