Is Content Marketing Worth the Time?
According to a recent survey from Manifest, an online business guide, 53% of businesses are using content marketing as part of their marketing strategy. But is it worth the time investment?
What Is Content Marketing?Content marketing is creating content your ideal customer is interested in, in a medium they enjoy, that will inspire, educate, or entertain. The goal of content marketing is to become a resource for your target demographic in order to help them know, like, and trust you and thus want to do business with you. It is a long-term play, not a short-term win. In content marketing, you use content to create a trusted relationship with your potential customer and that can't be done overnight.
Done correctly, it's a large investment in time. But does the investment pay off?
The answer to that depends on how you "do" content marketing. You can do it poorly. In those situations, it's best not to attempt it at all. Consider the investment in content marketing worthwhile if you...
Research Your Ideal Market Ahead of TimeThe beauty of content marketing is providing your ideal audience with resources they need. You are solving a problem or helping them solve it. The more personalized advice you can offer, the greater the return. If you're just going to churn out generic pieces, don't waste your time.
Will Commit to ItYou want your potential customer to remember you as a resource. If you publish or share something only on occasion, it will be difficult to build a reputation as a helpful site. Instead, commit to whatever type of content you can and publish consistently. It needn't be every day but your audience should be able to follow your posting schedule.
Strategically Share ItMost businesses get stuck on the content creation but that's not the only part you have to commit to. If you create content that nobody sees, it doesn't matter how great it is. Use scheduling software to make sure each of your posts is shared with your social media profiles. As your content library grows, don't forget to use an evergreen retweeter to reschedule older posts that still have value. You spent a lot of time creating those posts, don't let them die because they fall off the main blog page.
Track the Popular PostsWhen creating your posts for your audience, pay attention to what they like. What resonates with them? Long posts or shorter ones? Meaty research posts or stories? Words or video? Images or podcasts? Noting what your audience responds to is one of the pillars of good content marketing:
Create something of value in a medium they enjoy.
Create What They WantContent marketing is not about what you want to publish. If you want it to be trusted, you need to show both sides. For instance, if you sell AC units and even though you want to sell a new AC unit to everyone in the county, you can't produce content that says the minute the AC unit is on the fritz, it needs to be replaced.
Yes, that might be the ultimate goal and mean more revenue for your company but the content you create needs to be formatted around something believable and trustworthy. Break down what goes into deciding when you need a new unit. People will trust you more if you say replacement is not always the most cost-effective option.
Finally, the trend in content these days is one-stop shopping. People don't want to spend hours researching things on the Interwebs. They want one "ultimate guide" to addressing their problem. They want one place to find everything they need to know about the subject.
This is great news for content producers because your business likely has tons of best practices in the buying process and educational information about your products. In content marketing, quality wins over quantity so well-researched and thought out content beats slapped together drivel any day.
Are you still wondering if all this work in content marketing is worth it?
If you can commit to the necessities listed earlier in this article, there's a good chance that content marketing can help you win more customers and improve your word of mouth and social media shares. But you won't really know without trying and you can't just experiment with content marketing over a week-long period. You need to make an investment in it for at least six months.
If you don't think you can do that, ask yourself if you want to be one of the 47% of businesses who aren't doing it. Maybe that's okay. But you should definitely find out which group your competition is in before you decide you can't take it on. Christina R. Greenteaches small businesses, chambers,and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.comand the Event Manager Blog.