Content marketing seems to be all the buzz right now. But in actual fact, this vital component of marketing and advertising has been aging beautifully for thousands of years. Content marketing can be summed up in one word: Storytelling. Since the dawn of Man, we have been telling stories.
Regardless of your brand, product or service, you will have to differentiate yourself from the pack. Today, the consumer faces an onslaught of options to purchase, join and to discover information concerning anyone – including your competitor. Therefore, your branding, marketing, PR, advertising and sales touch points will have to deliver great content.
What Makes Great Content?
What makes for great content depends solely on your target audience, their needs, wants and strongest desires. So the answer to this vital question will vary. My personal description of great content is, “What your target audience finds incredibly valuable to help elevate or alleviate their minds and capability in living.”
Great content is always based on research or insight, or both. When you develop an understanding of your target audiences desires, needs, as well as what intrigues them, you are now onto what makes great content.
The 5 Biggest Struggles with Content Marketing & How to Resolve
My first job in the field in marketing was at an advertising agency in Irvine, CA in 1987. I was twenty-three years old and I was officially working in this exciting industry. For about 18 months, I cold called and personally visited hundreds of small businesses. I was shocked at how indifferent and confused small business owners were about their own marketing and sales processes.
Since that point, I have lectured to over 10,000 business professionals from all over the United States and abroad. These 5 points were not lightly thrown together, but represent a true distillation of where the core struggles exist for small business owners regarding marketing.
Point No. 1 – You Are Being Fed Misinformation
The field of marketing, and in particular PR, is strewn with false and misleading information. Included in this category are the hucksters who sell “voodoo”, promising great results while only dealing out confusing terms.
Professional marketers worthy of the name, from my opinion, take the time to explain their services and products. They do not use words like “cutting edge” or “state-of-the-art.” They speak in English and they have tangible results to showcase. They have serviced people well, and in their wake are satisfied clientele. They are semi-patient, willing to help you learn and can talk about your business challenges with reality.
Point No. 2 – You Are Not Educating Yourself or Your Team
Marketing is an exact science. Not like studying gravity, but a science in that it can be tested and developed into a pragmatic routine that will generate fairly predictable results. It astounds people when I tell them books written 40, 50 and even 100 years ago clearly, that describe in excruciating detail, the workable principles of content marketing.
While a full study of marketing texts is not required to succeed in business, I do believe that you must develop a policy of educating yourself, or at least your marketing team, with materials and workshops on a continuous basis. It is a foolish person indeed that believes that they know all about any topic.
I read almost every day, yet still feeling that I am two weeks behind on what I need to learn to become even better. There are many great books out there regarding marketing. My favorite authors are David Ogilvy, Al Ries and David Meerman Scott.
Point No. 3 – You Have Not Written a Realistic Marketing Plan
Your business plan should not be only that document to prove to the bank or your VC that you’re worth the investment. Your written marketing plan must become a tool for you in business, just as a contractor utilizes a hammer or a power drill.
Developing and possessing a written marketing plan that has been formed from a SWOT analysis, as well as a review of your revenue channels and long-term statistics, is a necessary tool to keep you on track towards your goals.
Ninety-nine percent of the small business professionals confused about what to do next, or why their marketing is performing poorly, do not possess a written marketing plan.
Point No. 4 – You Are Not Conducting Market Research
One of the primary steps of a written marketing plan is to perform market research. I know this may sound like an overwhelming action or a daunting task for a small business person, but let me dispel one misconception: It can be performed rapidly, inexpensively and with relative ease.
Yes, market research can be an intricate and involved process in many cases. But when it comes to a small business owner, you do not necessarily have the experience, budget or time to conduct extensive market research.
Market research can be conducted with a focus group of your top consumers, by sending an emailed survey to your customer base, interviewing your best clientele on why they buy from you, as well as several other valuable actions. Reading trade journals that share industry statistics and trends is also another key component of market research.
Insight and key data about your target audience’s needs and desires can be what turns your brand and marketing into a home run.
Point No. 5 – You Are Not Demanding Results
Unfortunately, all of your efforts in marketing and sales can break down due to low expectations. I don’t want to sound mystical, but your own expectations and demands for high performance, results and ROI can be the reason why sales are not performing.
Generating leads may be occurring, but is your sales team on the ball and converting them into new clientele? Why not? Are your SEO efforts resulting in more traffic and requests for information, phone calls or walk-ins? Why not?
There are many reasons why marketing is not working. If people know that sub-standard performance will be tolerated, they are more likely to under-perform. Marketing and sales has an accountability and responsibility for results. Marketing is not an art done for its’ own sake. By measuring results (or lack of them), looking into the sequence of actions within your marketing, asking tough questions and demanding results, you will see better performance from your marketing plans and efforts.
You Can Succeed With Marketing
Marketing and public relations are exciting and rewarding activities when conducted correctly and professionally. But as with any business process, it takes study, initiative, persistence and a demand for results.