10 Content Marketing Tips
Let’s face it. Content marketing is not really front-and-center of marketing strategy discussions in companies with traditional marketing organizations. In these companies, marketing-related discussions are dictated by how the budget is allocated. The marketing function with the biggest budget tends to receive the most attention (aka love) from management, since they want to make sure they are getting their money’s worth. As you may have guessed, paid media and lead generation tends to be on the top of the list. If it’s not about paid or lead gen, management’s discussion tends to center around campaign ideas or tactics. Here is the reality: Management cares about the frequency of e-mail pushes and numbers of leads generated, not necessarily the top 10 most clickable content from an e-mail campaign. Management wants to know the number of business cards gathered at a booth and creative tactics to entice people to the booth, not necessarily what cool infographics are used or about white paper giveaways.
Content is overlooked, because content acts as an enabler, not as an outcome.
But for other companies, content marketing is a core pillar of their strategy. For some industries such as education institutions, consulting firms or SaaS-based start-ups and companies with a small budget or small teams, leveraging content is a way of communicating and engaging with their customers. Here are the signs that content marketing is not that important in your organizations:
- Management can’t articulate the importance of content
- No backing (or very limited support) from management
- No content marketing mentioned in any marketing plan
- No content marketing plan in place
- No distinctive “content marketing “ budget line-item on budget (or small budget)
- No one in the marketing organization leads or manages content efforts
- Lack of a solid understanding of content inventory list
- Except senior marketing managers, no one has a holistic view of marketing channels (paid, owned and earned) that your company uses
- No formal or informal communication process to pull content creators together (in-house and outsourced content creators)
- Lack of feedback loop on content performance to share with content creators
If you want to make content marketing a part of the management discussion, you need to adapt a top-down and bottom-up approach. Top-down:
In order to get top-down support, the key is to continuously educate your management on the benefits of content marketing. Explain “why” it makes sense first.
Showing case studies and stats is helpful. Another option is to share what competitors are doing in their content marketing efforts. If you hold lunch-and-learn sessions, you can also invite content marketing experts to educate your management and peers. Be consistent and patient. This can be frustrating at times, since you may feel like a broken-record but there is really no short cut. If your management is interested in and supportive of content marketing initiatives, you need to build the momentum by providing timely updates either through e-mail or face-to-face status meetings. No need to tell them “everything” you did.
Focus on 3/3/3: three highlights, three lowlights and three next steps.
When you share 3/3/3, focus on measurable updates and the ties with business objectives. Be succinct and ready to provide additional data, if management asks for it. Here are examples of 3/3/3: Highlights:
- Gathered 300 leads through gated white paper downloads. >50% of downloads came from LinkedIn and Twitter Promotions.
- Shared top 5 most popular content with direct marketing team. Work with them to create a customized e-mail campaign.
- Correlated social media followers and fans with CRM to identify 50 potential customers.
- Unable to finalize the script of new product video due to holidays.
- 4-month of Facebook advertising experiment increased numbers of likes and shares, but yielded low % of leads. See post-mortem report [link].
- Business unit decided to create a different set of content to target a new segment, which was not included in the original content marketing plan.
- Finalize the script of new product video
- Allocate Facebook budget to LinkedIn and Twitter
- Need to understand business unit’s plan and determine if it’s necessary to support them.
Bottom-up: If majority of the “lack of” list above applies to you, don’t stress out. In addition to educating management, start by reaching out to others who are doing a similar job and understand what they are creating.
Sometimes the best way to start a movement is bottom-up.
Through several people working together, a process starts to form. With more people joining, an informal process becomes formalized. Here are some examples:
- Pull several content creators together on a biweekly basis just to informally talk about what content has been created and what is planned.
- Compare notes on messaging and story framework with other content creators.
- Invite webmaster or digital marketers to informal gatherings and tell them what you are creating to see if they can use it.
- Document your own content pipeline list.
What are little steps you can take to educate and work with other content creators and executive management?
A grassroots effort can gain momentum and initiate the creation of more useful content as well as improve content sharing.
At some point, the bottom-up needs to intersect with a top-down commitment in order to sustain and continue to build a full-fledged content management strategy and implementation. If content marketing is not a focus in your organization, make an assessment based on the top-10 list above. Identify one or two steps that you will do to tackle top-down and bottom-up. One step at a time.
Every small win counts.