The push toward content marketing is tough for companies to fit into their existing framework for business without getting the essential questions answered. Those questions do have answers, so here are content marketing questions from the field:
1. What Do I Do if I Have Little or No Budget for Content Marketing?
When you have time but no monetary budget, then the thought leader in the company and the person with the most client interaction collaborate to create content. If you’re convinced you have neither time nor money for marketing effectively, you stop saying that and change your context. It’s going to require money and/or time. Any technique that purports otherwise is just what it sounds like – a pipe dream, not a pipeline.
How Do I Determine What Content to Post?
Start with the audience. Map out the *complete* journey of the prospective client from soup to nuts. Start with the life they’re living undisturbed where everything seems fine; that’s the first moment. Then there’s the moment they sense a problem, then the point they are looking for alternatives. Then there’s the point of skepticism, probably a moment of confusion, and ultimately a moment of truth. Get as many moments as you can on your customer journey map and write articles to the people they are at each of those moments. Stay IN the moment with them and, at the end of the content piece, lead them to the next. Don’t forget to look at what you’re soft-posting, too; if you’re sending e-mails or answering questions by phone and there are *proven* engagement results, that’s a cue that content could be the framework for some effective content in other mediums – video, social, blogging, etc.
How Do I Define Success or ROI?
Decide what you really want for your brand, and don’t make it a knee-jerk response. We all think we want more clients, at first glance but, on digging a little deeper, we may want fewer clients with bigger budgets, or simply better, more empowered clients. Define what it takes to transform your company and your conversation to get the fullest version of what you want out of the market. Your business goals should determine your marketing goals. Maybe you need more authority in your field – more cred or recognized expertise and talent; that’s a marketing goal. If you want a direct sales impact on the market – to move widgets – what will that take? If you aren’t asking that question, you’re not developing a marketing strategy. Maybe selling more product requires changing a perception about your product, or about people who use the product; that’s a content marketing opportunity.
What if My Content Isn’t Getting Enough Interaction?
First look to content quality and consistency, by which we mean customer focus and frequency. The quality-quantity dichotomy is a myth, but it survives because it juxtaposes a subjective idea with an objective reality. If you’re putting out content infrequently or sporadically, you aren’t going to build that critical expectation that creates consumers for your content, then fans for your brand, and ultimately brand evangelists. When we talk of content quality, the utter subjectivity means we’re actually referring to how its received by the audience. That comes from an audience-centered content strategy and digital strategy. You look to quality and consistency first because, if you’re hitting those, you can rely on it to generate a result of some kind, at least. If you just want that result faster, there are placement services that put your content in front of more people, but you’d better be sure you have the quality thing right first.
What if I’m Not a Brand?
Stop saying that. When you say you want to compete in a market, you’re a brand. That’s *especially* true when your industry is commoditized and there are many competitors. Your core marketing strategy must begin with defining yourself as a brand; that comes *before* trying to increase your reach with new prospects.
How Do I Make Sure My Team Stays on Brand?
First, spend more than a minute defining what your brand really means beyond the logo and what products or services you sell. A brand is a culture; it starts with how the company operates internally and extends into its place in the larger culture where we engage our audience. Commit to a set of values that aren’t nebulous, vague, and fluffy. To be a brand means to know who you are – it’s the business equivalent of the art of self-knowledge. Second, craft a brand style sheet and set of editorial guidelines. Avoid making it too narrow, so you don’t cut of the essential creative energy you need to tap as a brand. Effective guidelines allow the brand to grow, evolve, and become more clearly defined through the content its contributors create; branding isn’t a one-way street. So, your brand stylesheet starts as your first stab at tone, voice, style, and purpose, but it’s a living document that will evolve as you produce concrete examples in the form of engaging content.
Not pulling your punches on marketing questions may also mean getting answers you didn’t want to hear; be prepared for that. Unless we can look the darkest, blackest fact full in the face, we’re not yet committed to growing our companies. Most of the time, we just need the answers to be sustainable; the committed among us can work in any environment if we can just get information that we can bank on.
For information you can bank on, get a marketing strategist at MadPipe, and make your marketing more sustainable. If you just have a question, feel free to submit to the MadPipe Mailbag, for possible inclusion in an upcoming podcast.