content marketing is not snake oil

The whole concept of content marketing seems obvious doesn’t it? Create content that speaks to the needs of the people you want to reach. They will find it and be drawn to you and your products or services naturally. You’ll build trust and relationships. Cold calls will be no more. In fact, people wanting to do business with you will be breaking down your door just to speak with you! B2B or B2C, the idea is the same. Sounds great doesn’t it? Finally a simple and painless way to attract business.

Ah, but that simplicity is deceptive. “Content” is one of those words tossed around in the ether, and we all assume we know what it means, how to find it, and many assume that it will instantly rocket any business ahead of their competitors.

Yeah. That’s not likely to happen. Even if you come up with the perfect content to entice the perfect prospect to pick up the phone and call you, you still have to be discovered. Remember the good old days of the web when we really believed if we just build a website people would flock to it and our business would magically triple? That didn’t happen either. There has to be a strategy to create the content, how to distribute it and when and where that’s going to happen.

I’m not saying content marketing is another snake oil scam. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying it’s not a magic panacea for your business. I’m saying you need a strategy. I’m saying it involves commitment.

When we talk to clients about using social media to grow their business we first define their goals for using it in the first place and then the discussion around content will often go like this:

Me: Having a presence on any social media network is useless if you don’t have quality information to share.

Client: Oh we have tons of marketing materials, we can just use that!

Me: Uh… well, we can work your marketing message in of course, but what about supporting information? What can we say about your services? What are the needs of the market you answer? Are you a thought leader in the industry? If not yet, can we develop content that will establish that? Can we find material online that will support the content you develop? The we can work out from your core messaging and see what we have.

Client: Um. We don’t have time/manpower/resources to do any of that. We’ve only got X# people on the team and they’re all to busy.

Me: You know what? If we take the time to really look at this I bet we can not only find resources internally who can help, but find external sources for information you can share that will help build your reputation in the industry. We’ll create a plan together to produce that content and leverage what already exists.

After a little exploration we generally come to the realization together that there is a trove of content already available, sources they can use and new opportunities to engage a market they may have overlooked. That’s when the fun really begins!

In my next post for this series I’m going to talk about how the process of exploration works, and some tools you can use to identify content sources internally and externally that can make content development much less daunting.
Stay tuned!