Content Marketing has been getting a lot of buzz the last few years.
A big reason is that companies are having success with content marketing.
According to one study, content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.
That’s obviously appealing: Better Results + Lower Costs. You can grow a business around those numbers.
The one thing you don’t really hear when it comes to content marketing is that it’s not easy. You can’t just jump in and have it work right from the jump.
I’m probably guilty of building that to a degree. I’ve written about business blogging and content marketing for about six years on this blog and I’ve probably made it seem easy at times.
But then I look back and realize that it’s been six years on this blog and a few years before that on other blogs to reach the level we are at now. And it will take more years to get where we want to go.
But it shouldn’t take that long to see growth with content marketing. It comes back to the strategy you have and if you’re frustrated let’s take a look at some common issues and see if we can make some fixes.
Fix #1. Define Your Target Market
This is the biggest mistake I see with content marketing. It’s more common with startups, but you’ll still find it with established companies.
One of the keys with content marketing is writing or creating video and audio or images for your audience and not for yourself. It’s a difficult thing to grasp right away and it makes sense.
Here’s an example I’ve seen – a web designer starts a blog. They read blogs about web design, graphic design, developing and those types of things. That’s what they read. They have blogs they love and they start blogging about the things they find interesting. The result of this strategy is that other designers find the blog interesting and visit, but those other designers don’t need to hire a web designer.
See the issue?
Content marketing needs to have a clear understanding of target customer to be successful.
Fix #2. Find The Right Topics
You have to write about the topics your customers care about. This can be tricky and it’s an ongoing learning curve. You can write about things you think your customers care about and that will work sometimes. But you can cheat a little and get clues to what they want to read about to give you a better chance for success.
Start with current customers. Make it a habit to ask them what they’re struggling with, what they’re investigating, what they’re reading, what they’re watching and all things related to their work and life. You’ll get a lot of information that way and it can lead to insight to topics.
Also look at other popular blogs and websites that your customers or target customers read. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. See what the popular articles are and write on that topic with your own twist. Take that topic and add something that hasn’t been discussed before.
Also check forums. I go to Quora all the time to look for questions that target readers are asking. When you find a good question answer it with a blog post or piece of content.
Fix #3. More Help, Less Sales
Another issue with content marketing is that it’s too sales focused or too focused on what you’re selling. A big step with content marketing is getting away from mentioning what you do. You can work it in subtly sometimes, but overall you’re going to write content with the sole focus of helping your target customer.
You have to earn their attention and trust before they will be interested in what you’re selling.
Get back to identifying the questions your customers are asking in relation to their jobs and their lives. Help with those questions and earn their trust. The more you help the more authority you’ll build and customers will naturally come to you when they see the need for your product or service.
Fix #4. Go Against The Grain
People don’t really notice when you agree with other authorities in the industry. It’s good to agree and say so and support other authorities. But a key to content marketing is finding something that is seemingly an accepted stance in the industry that you disagree with and then explaining your position.
Here’s a simple example. Say you’re a dentist. The common suggestion in the dental field is flossing every night before bed. Just about every dentist makes that suggestion. You can say the same thing, but you won’t stand out.
Your recommendation could be that it’s important for people to floss after all the major meals. Then back it up with something about how eating breakfast and having some food stuck between your teeth can lead to issues like soreness or even cavities. Waiting up to 12 hours to floss before bed is a lot of time.
Fix #5. Add Guesting To The Mix
This is a big one. When you’re starting out with content marketing you’re starting with a small audience. You have your current customers through email and social media perhaps, but you’re really starting from nothing.
You can build SEO authority over time, but to make things happen faster you want guesting to be part of your content marketing mix. Guesting is when you create content for another platform that shares your target audience.
Guesting includes writing guest posts on industry blogs and websites where your target audience visits. It also includes being a guest on podcasts, webinars and similar types of content.
Guesting brings attention to you and your brand and also brings traffic back to your website and it all helps to build your authority.
Fix #6. Bring In Collaborators
Like guesting is the idea of collaborating. It’s a great way to partner with a complementary business or organization and share each other’s audience. If you’re the one with the smaller audience then you might need to do more work to create the content, but still share in the credit.
You can collaborate on things like blog posts, infographics, webinars, videos and more. Once the content is created all the collaborators share with their audience and everybody wins. The audience gets good content and the collaborators all get traffic and more authority.
Fix #7. Commit To A Regular Schedule
It’s easy to get off schedule with content marketing. If it’s a blog the intentions might be to post twice a week. That works for a few months, but then it slips back to once a week and then once a month and within a year the blogging has come to a complete stop.
This is not a strategy that will work. Staying committed to a regular schedule with content marketing is like sticking with a regular savings plan. You put the same amount of money away each month and over time your wealth grows; slowly at first, but faster and faster as time goes on.
Create a schedule. It can be a simple spreadsheet. Brainstorm ideas separately from writing. Have a brainstorm session every month or two and come up with ideas for the following month or period. Then when you go to write you don’t have to first come up with an idea because it will already be on the schedule.
Fix #8. Share & Link To Other People’s Content
What do you love most with the content you create?
You love when people share it and link to it, right? Everybody loves that.
Pay it forward and get in the habit of sharing other people’s content. And link to other people’s content with the content you create. You’ll get the attention of others. They appreciate it just as you would appreciate it if people did the same for you.
This builds goodwill and over time you’ll find yourself getting more links and shares. What goes around comes around.
Content marketing is a great strategy for businesses. It’s something you can build that really works as an asset for your company. It’s been found to be more effective and less expensive than other forms of marketing.
But it’s not always easy. Well, it is easy to get off on the wrong foot with your strategy, but hopefully the tips here can get things on track for you and your efforts. It’s our goal to make sure you’re succeeding with content marketing.
So take these tips and look at your content marketing strategy. Make any necessary tweaks and you’ll be back on the right track to getting traffic, engagement and new customers.