Content marketing isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses

There are a lot of great reasons for companies to pursue content marking. For one, according to Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates three times as many leads, per dollar. Meanwhile, Hubspot says that 61% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge.

Another reason that might prompt you to ramp up your content marketing efforts is seeing a competitor make a splash with theirs. But when you look at what another company is doing, it’s important to challenge your team to not just duplicate the end product of another company’s content marketing program. While you may indeed need to overhaul your blog or offer webinars to keep pace with competitors, you still need to make sure your content marketing efforts are authentic to your brand and that your products or services can deliver on the promise of your marketing efforts.

So, before you create your version of a competitor’s white paper, webinar or podcast, and before you adopt an industry standard blog posting schedule or social media strategy, challenge your team to answer these questions:

What industry topics are we uniquely positioned to develop content around?

The important point here is to make sure that your content marketing can deliver value to your customers and potential customers. It’s fine to include common industry wisdom in your content marketing (we do this all the time as well). But for white papers, webinars and other content where you are expecting people to provide an email address to access, you need to make it clear you’re delivering something of value — something they can’t get elsewhere.

Who is the audience for our content, and what kind of content do they need?

This may be the same audience as the rest of your marketing efforts, or it may be different. Be intentional about who you are talking to in your content marketing. Even if you think you know your audience, it is worth re-evaluating on a periodic basis as well. It also may be advantageous to test out messaging through lower-cost avenues like blog posts before investing in labor-intensive pieces like white papers or webinars.

What is the process used by companies who have content marketing we admire?

Organizations like the Content Marketing Institute and HubSpot publish a lot of information on how companies go about building content marketing programs. And, there may even be content marketing seminars or conferences that directly target your industry. Learning how much other companies are investing in their content programs and what decisions and steps led to the strategy and resulting campaign can help your team decide how to deploy your resources and whether or not further investment is needed.

How will we know if our content marketing efforts are successful?

Content marketing is your hammer, but not all of your goals are nails. Because content marketing requires an investment on your part, it’s not only important to make sure you know what success looks like for your content marketing program, but that content marketing success will drive business goals.

Can we get other departments within our company on board with putting in the effort needed to generate authentic and effect content?

It’s unlikely that your communications team will have the subject matter expertise required to produce effective content on their own. That means you’ll need contributions from colleagues in sales, customer service, product development and other departments. It can be challenging for many organizations to get those departments to buy into the content planenough to prioritize content contributions along with the rest of their jobs, but without their help your efforts may fall flat.

Do we need any outside help getting content produced?

Whether it’s blog posts, white papers, videos or podcasts, your team may not have the resources to produce this content. Identifying where you need help and putting processes and budgets in place to get that help in a timely and affordable manner can make or break your content marketing ROI.

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you may find yourself with a content marketing piece that looks good but doesn’t work well. Even more of a frustration, it may be very hard to put your finger on why it isn’t working. It also will be much harder to sell in the content program to executives and colleagues you need expertise and assistance from.

Tony Scida

A Hodges veteran who has been with the firm for more than a decade, Tony lends his creative talents to a range of clients. With a degree in arts management and as an accomplished musician, Tony has an ear for helping tell client stories.

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