Have you ever stopped and wondered – Why am I developing this piece of content?
I get it. This is not the easiest question to ask when you are involved in the day-to-day tasks and management of running or executing a marketing program. Heads are down just trying to get the job done. The typical scenario of getting more done with fewer resources pretty much demands it. However, there is a real risk to producing quantity over quality content simply for the sake of having a presence.
As Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute has sagely warned, “Mediocre content will hurt your brand more than doing nothing at all.” - [Tweet This]
Did you know that:
- 29% of a marketing budget is spent on content marketing
- Only 41 % of B2B marketers say their organization is clear about what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like; 59% are unclear or unsure
- Only 37% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy
(CMI, MarketingProfs, and Brightcove, 2017)
The Content Marketing Paradox
It is easy to forget that marketing communications are intended to talk to real people who do not owe you anything – not their time, and certainly not their full attention.
The advent of mediums such as digital messaging and smartphones has created a society in which the average person is being exposed to anywhere between 3,000 and 20,000 messages per day, and much of this is irrelevant. As a result, we have learned to simply tune them out.
In fact, many of us marketers are struggling with the Content Marketing Paradox. We are generating more content but getting less return. According to TrackMaven, the output of content per brand increased 35% per channel in 2015, but content engagement decreased by 17%.
Breaking Through the Noise
As an agency, it is not uncommon for us to be briefed on a content piece and know that the client is hoping and praying that we do not ask them the dreaded three-letter word: W-H-Y? Why would your audience possibly care about this piece of content? Or H-O-W? How does this fit into your organization’s overall content strategy?
Often we see what we have come to call the ‘deer in headlight’ syndrome, as they scramble to justify or B.S their way through an answer. Some of our more honest clients flat out tell us – ‘We need something to support X, but timelines did not permit for us to map out a decent strategy.’ We also often hear ‘Our product team or sales team wants us to do this”.
The takeaway: A good content strategy does not begin with a list of tactics that a marketer or organization wants to produce. Rather it starts with a solid content strategy informed by insights about the target audience, their needs and the journey they take to satisfy this need. - [Tweet This]
Insights are the Building Blocks for a Content Strategy
There are countless opportunities and sources to gain insights, but many marketers look at them as afterthoughts and rarely do they make it into their planning sessions let alone a content strategy. Instead, they often follow their gut instincts, what their internal stakeholders demand of them, and the resources they have available.
You might be surprised at the amount of valuable information that marketers leave on the table by not reviewing behavioral data from email, social media interactions, website visits, events, webinars, et al. as a whole, to create a story about their personas.
The takeaway: Insights derived from reviewing behavioral data can help you identify and create micro-segments that can be prioritized within your content strategy to help create a more personalized and valuable content experience for that audience. - [Tweet This]
They can help you identify:
- Shifts in the market
- What topics resonate across all your audience members
- Which topics are specific to a niche segment
- What format does that audience prefer
- What channels they want to be spoken on
When briefing your agency – Remember the importance of telling them why you are briefing them on a certain topic, content format, why the segment that you listed under ‘target audience’ is particularly interested in that piece of information and not the other segments. Also, tell your agency how this piece works with the other content pieces you have developed for this audience. We want to help you produce content that connects the dots, and produces a sequence of messages to tell a story. Help us help you!
The question remains - How do marketers balance getting things done for the sake of having a ‘presence’ and truly taking a step back, connecting the pieces and being more strategic? How do we become more customer-centric rather than product-centric? How do we stop thinking about our role, our goals and what targets we need to hit? (which sadly are often based on how many campaigns or content pieces have been developed and less on how effective content efforts are at guiding an audience through a journey), and start considering the questions, that although cliché, are more relevant than ever!
Test yourself by seeing if you can answer the following without using ‘corporate or marketing speak.'
- What problem are you addressing and solving?
- What milestones have you identified that signal a need for a solution?
- What content are you developing for your audience and why should they stop what they are doing and pay attention?
- What implicit and behavioral insights are you incorporating into your decisions?
- What are the stakes if they do not pay attention to the solution you are offering?
- How do their needs evolve across the buying cycle and how are you guiding the way?
- And finally, what results have you gathered from your marketing efforts that truly provide insights into what your audience wants, needs and is expecting from you.
If you are struggling to answer these questions to the standard you demand of yourself, then you have a reason to put the pen down and think more about your content strategy.
The takeaway: It is not just about the single piece of content. It is about the big picture, and how you are helping bring clarity to the issues of your customer. - [Tweet This]