Content Marketing: Getting Past the Myths

Content Marketing is Easy, Right??

Everybody seems to be talking about content marketing these days as one of the hottest ways to attract and retain customers. Search for “content marketing” on the web and you’ll find any number of breezily written blog posts and online articles about what it takes to launch an effective content-based marketing program.

I’ve always wondered about these witty, quick, “here’s how” posts. As a writer who has worked on all forms of business communications in print, video and online, I’ve always found persuasive writing to be a thoughtful, time-consuming process that requires plenty of forethought.

The truth is, sometimes the writing flows very well and very quickly, and without even realizing it, you find yourself at the end of an informative and useful blog post with content that can be re-purposed in multiple ways. But by and large, this happens as a result of 1) plenty of research and 2) giving yourself time, as a writer, to be immersed in the world of the audience you are trying to persuade to believe in your company or product. This is particularly important in business-to-business marketing if you’re writing about a complex product or service for an audience that already has a high degree of specialized knowledge  just to do their job. You can’t fake what you don’t know, nor can you risk being insincere; your audience will smell it a mile off and be off in a flash.

Don’t mistake me, good content-based marketing can drive spectacular results. I’ve worked on numerous projects that have yielded great results in building loyalty and converting customers – over time.  Getting the reader to fill out an information request form is just the first step. It may take many additional “touches” in the form of follow up posts, e-marketing campaigns, newsletters, calls, etc., to eventually win their business. Throughout the process, the content has to hold together as a well-conceived message that earns a buyer’s trust.

Time is often the greatest challenge. Most marketers are quick to acknowledge that they don’t have the kind of hours it takes to develop the kind of content they need, as regularly as they need, to get the results they want. But those who are mislead into thinking it happens at the snap of the fingers will be sorely disappointed if they try to find shortcuts in developing solid content that will truly resonate with the client.

But don’t despair. You don’t have to be perfect at content marketing right out of the gate. You can still have an effective content marketing program even if you’re not blasting out one new blog post or online article a day. As Salma Jafri recently wrote about in “5 Content Marketing Myths That Need to Die,” by posted on Search Engine Watch, you might be much better off focusing on quality, not quantity. Read the post for more great insights It’s all about focusing in on, say, your Top 3 priorities and what it will take to succeed at them as opposed to spreading yourself over 300 priorities and becoming ineffective across them all.

One piece of advice? Work with a writer who has experience in content marketing programs. They can help you shape up a program for content generation that will fit with your company’s capabilities, bandwidth and available resources. They’ll should have some good insights as to what can be realistically achieved according to your timeframe and goals.

In a future post, I’ll share some tips about developing a content schedule, identifying the best content sources and making sure you’re getting the right level of information for your audience.

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