I read a great book recently about golf.
I’m a huge fan of golf and for my entire golfing life I’ve heard that, “You drive for show and you putt for dough.”
Well, the book I recently read by Mark Broadie looked at the stats of the best golfers.
And guess what – most of the best golfers in the world are the best drivers rather than the best putters.
That kind of blew me away.
We hear so many things during our lives and eventually we start thinking that those things we hear over and over are truths that can’t be argued.
Well it turns out that some people don’t listen to truths. They go at it on their own and figure out how to get results. They don’t care about what others are saying.
That’s why people in golf like Rory McIlroy can focus on being the best driver and long iron player in the world and win majors.
One area where it’s prevalent is weight loss. Everybody has an opinion on what you should do to lose weight and be happy. One day I realized it didn’t make sense to listen to health input from people that were unhealthy.
But that’s another subject.
There are also some content marketing truths that have taken on a life of their own. They’ve become common knowledge, but if taken in the wrong context they can actually hurt your efforts.
Here are some of those truths that need to be re-thought.
1. Your Content Has To Be Long (Or Short)
There are all kinds of articles about content marketing that discuss the necessary word count for successful posts. I do think it’s good to aim for a certain word count, but each type of content takes on a different type of life and the word count doesn’t always come out the same.
People do like different word counts and lengths. Some audiences prefer shorter articles where they can quickly get the information and move on to the next thing.
But you also have audiences that want something long and in-depth. And in some cases, actually many cases, the same people want a mixture of both. They want to read something short one day and something long the next.
The truth is that there are no rules on how long your content has to be. Your audience might have a preference today, but they might have a different preference tomorrow.
On the GBW blog, I try to mix it up. Some articles will be close to 1,500 words or more. While others are closer to 300 or 400. the most probably fall in between and that’s fine.
Action Tip: Set a basic guide for your word count. Say 600 words. Find the questions your target customers are asking and answer with a blog post. Let your answer determine the length.
2. You Have To Produce A Lot Of Content
There are studies on this and more content can generally be better. But it’s difficult to create a lot of content. And I think when people think they have to create a lot of content that they get intimidated and they end up creating no content at all.
Some of my personal favorite blogs only update every month. While others update multiple times per day.
Both types of blogs can be successful. When you help people with a question they have they will come to read your content or to watch your video or to listen to your podcast.
Action Tip: Blog for a few months. See what frequency works out best for you. Then stick to a consistent schedule based on what you find. You might find that you can only publish monthly. That’s fine. Maybe you can publish weekly. The key at this point is to stick to the schedule to provide consistency for your target audience.
3. You Need Tons Of Images, Photos And Graphics
Images are great for posts, but too many images can take away from the post.
You know the feeling you get when you’re in the grocery store and you see the entire aisle full of candy. It’s hard to pick out just one type of candy. And if you’re looking for your favorite kind it’s hard to find it with all the commotion going on with the bright and shiny wrappers.
Too many images and graphics can take away from the message you’re trying to share with your content.
Action Tip: I’m a fan of about 1-3 images per post. There are instances where more or less are fine. Images add context and intrigue to posts, but if you go overboard you’ll take away from the message, which is there to win over your audience. Don’t distract them.
4. The Entire Company Needs To Be Involved In Content Marketing
This is incredibly hard and probably impossible to achieve. Yes, it would be nice if the entire company would be involved with everything going on in the business, but companies have operated in silos for a long time and they do it because that’s how people seem to want to work.
It’s fine if your content marketing is in a silo in your company. Not everybody will want to be involved.
There is a little trick you can use, though, to be the leader of content marketing while getting good input from others on the team.
Action Tip: I used to work for an online shoe retailer. We had a blog and a few of us on the Internet team thought it would be great to get the merchandise team, the people that find the best shoes to sell, involved in the blogging. I figured they wouldn’t want to actually blog so I would stop by their offices for a quick chat. I would ask about the upcoming trends, which they loved talking about. I would take mental notes and create posts from the notes.
5. Content Needs To Sell
This is right. All marketing is about getting more sales and usually about getting more customers.
But used in the wrong context, the idea that content needs to sell can be bad for your content marketing efforts.
In general, content marketing is very early in the sales funnel. If you go in with the idea that a blog post needs to convert a potential client into a paying client right away you’re going to create content that turns people away.
Imagine walking into a store and looking at a shirt. The salesperson comes up to you. What do they say?
They don’t ask you if you’d like to buy the shirt as the first thing out of their mouth.
They ask how you’re doing. They get to know you. They see if you have any questions and they work you through the entire sales funnel.
Content marketing is about answering questions and earning the trust of the customer. The calls to action with blogging and other types of content is not usually about getting the sale. It’s about moving the reader down the funnel, which can be to subscribe to an email list or getting the person to read your homepage or your about page.
Action Tip: Look at the calls to action in your blog posts. Are you asking for the sale right away? Read your blog posts. Are you talking about your services? Focus on answering questions and ask for the next logical conversion in the sales funnel instead of asking for a sale right away.
This summer I’ve changed the way I practice golf. Instead of chipping and putting all the time, I’ve changed my focus to be more about hitting drivers and long irons. The result has been a more consistent game with better scores.
To achieve those results I’ve had to forget some well known golfing “truths”.
Content marketing has a few truths. Follow the actions steps above and it should help your content marketing.
Sometimes you have to forget the truths and go with what works.