Content marketing works. The problem with it is that it’s incredibly hard to sustain.
You know how difficult it is. Every day is a mad scramble to whip up enough content that appeals to your target market. Like most of your colleagues, you know the right content is the way to get to your customers’ hearts and minds–and wallets. Do it well and they’ll remember your brand, recognize you as an authority, and buy from you.
If only content marketing isn’t so painfully time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly.
Curata, a curation software company, aptly describes this drudgery as, “feeding the content beast”:
It’s the stuff of every content marketer’s nightmares – this never-ending demand for more content. Despite all our best intentions, we never catch up. There is not enough time, resources, or budget to get ahead of the curve. Instead of an inspired chef creating delectable dishes to delight our audience, we become short order cooks, ceaselessly churning out quick-fix meals that the beast swallows whole without so much as a thank-you-very-much.
So how do you keep ahead of the “beast” and save yourself from getting trampled or devoured?
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3 Major Speed Bumps
Before we discuss strategies and tactics, let’s uncover the assumptions that slow you down. You’re not keeping up because you believe that:
- You need to create all your content by yourself or in-house
- You need to create everything from scratch
- You need to be the one talking, all the time
The answer to all 3 points is a resounding: NO.
Let’s address each point.
You don’t need to create all your content from scratch
Perhaps you pride yourself and your organization on your thought leadership in your field. Your audience loves you for it. In an ideal world, you’ll be serving them original material that you custom-craft ALL the time — groundbreaking blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, what not.
But you’re not in an ideal world, where time, resources and staff are limitless. You need to maximize your investment in content.
This is where repurposing comes in handy. You reuse the ideas in your existing material and give it another life in another form of content. For example, you could turn your popular blog posts on a specific topic into a longer ebook, create a podcast or video based on this material, or even publish a book.
In 2009, Pat Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com ran a series of blog posts on how to create and publish an ebook. He decided to compile these into an actual ebook. To involve his readers, he held an ebook naming contest. That ebook remains useful in helping him generate thousands of email signups on his blog.
Rule of thumb: the point of repurposing is NOT to merely repackage verbatim copies of old material, but to give it new usefulness for your audience.
You don’t have to create everything by yourself
Big and small companies alike struggle to meet demand for engaging content. Here are 2 ways they are coping:
Keeping it In-house
Hubspot, a marketing software company, is famous for their phenomenal content output. Their secret? They’ve created a “content culture” and conscripted all of their 400+ employees, not just their marketing department, to create content:
It’s natural to want Marketing to have a hand in the content that goes out, but that doesn’t mean the entire burden needs to fall on your team’s shoulders. Instead, enable anyone in your organization to contribute content, from Sales, to Services, to Development….you’re getting content that highlights different perspectives and different areas of expertise, both of which make your content arsenal more well-rounded.
This strategy may not work for all companies, but it’s worth a shot.
On one hand, you and your internal staff know your business better than outsiders, but on another, if you have a staff of just 3 people including you, it may be time to outsource.
Outsourcing — or hiring a third party to handle a task that you have no time or competence for — is pretty common in B2B circles. In general, though, companies seem hesitant to outsource content marketing, more than half the time preferring to do it in-house.
Perhaps an in-house and outsourced combo is your winning scenario. It would help you scale, cut costs and shorten your content production time while remaining in tight control.
Decide if you want to farm out all or just parts of your content creation/marketing tasks so you can focus on other aspects of your business. Pick which tasks could be outsourced, set clear guidelines, and assign your best staff to oversee the outsourced workers.
You don’t have to do the talking all the time
It can tire you and your audience out. Surrender the podium to someone else occasionally.
We’ll touch on 2 strategies that help you vary your content:
Ask your audience to share their experience and expertise through guest posts, interviews, case studies, testimonials and user-based videos. Often, they’d be glad you asked.
In fact, these are the most effective types of content that you can publish and promote, better than what your hired expert analyst can write up for you, and even more so than anything you can produce in-house.
TechValidate’s 2011 survey revealed:
In all, 94% of respondents rated content sourced from customers as Very Effective or Extremely Effective, vs. 54% for content sourced from 3rd-party analysts.
Customer-generated content is also a gold mine of content marketing ideas and data. Not only are they useful as starting points for your future content, they help you back up your claims with actual stats and anecdotal evidence.
Social media simplifies this task of sourcing and cultivating ideas with your audience. Examples of these in action:
- Coca-cola sources creative marketing ideas from an online co-creator community, Eyeka.
- Old Spice maintains a Facebook page abuzz with valuable fan feedback.
- Kraft entices its customers with delectable recipes on its website and Pinterest.
- The International Bar Database compiles user-submitted information on drinking bars all over the world.
These days, people aren’t so much looking for new, unique content as much as trying to make sense out of information excess. By curating, you help your audience organize and digest information that they actually care about.
Online newspapers and magazines, such as the Huffington Post, perfectly demonstrates this. They add editorial value to material aggregated from all over the Internet on topics that interest their readers.
Curata, true to its nature, judiciously mixes related content it picks up elsewhere with its own expert content.
Curation saves you the burden and cost of coming up with your own material each time. Besides, some would convey information earlier or more eloquently than you can ever hope to. If it would benefit your audience, don’t hesitate to point them to it. It even pays to give competitors a hat tip.
Remember: Don’t do everything from scratch by yourself all the time
Content marketing can be such a dreadful but necessary chore in your business. To leverage your time and resources, repurpose your existing content assets, get help either within your organization or externally, and reinforce your content arsenal with user-generated and curated content. With the right mix, you can scale and sustain an effective content marketing campaign.