Creating content takes a tremendous amount of time and resources. So there’s nothing more frustrating than when you create content and your prospects seem to have their heads in the sand.
While it’s easy to feel like giving up saying, “I guess content just doesn’t work for us,” don’t. Content marketing has proven to be instrumental in effective sales and marketing efforts. Instead of throwing in the towel, identify what’s going wrong and take action to fix it.
In our experience, there are four common reasons that content marketing fails to get traction.
1. You Don’t Know Who Your Customers Are
I’ve covered the importance of buyer personas before, so I don’t want to rehash that here. Bottom line is that if you don’t know enough about your customers and their issues (from their perspective), then the only thing you can focus on is yourself and your offerings; and that’s a recipe for failure. Like it or not, marketing and lead generation are in the publishing business and to succeed you must think like a publisher.
This means you can no longer take a one-size-fits-all approach with the content you create. Just yesterday, I was working with a client on their email newsletter. For several years, they’ve sent out one newsletter every month to every person in their database.
Yet their database consists of users or their service, the administrators of their service and prospects. This results in an email that everyone receives and no one values. Going forward, we are breaking that email communication into three different communications, geared to the appropriate segment. More work? Yes, but it will also enhance results.
2. You’re Not Teaching Anything
The first lesson in content is that people engage with content for their reasons, not yours. I always laugh when I talk to executives who say things to me like, “I just don’t believe blogging will work for my business. I don’t read blogs and I’m not sure my customers do either.”
I respond by asking if they’ve ever searched for a business idea or for information about an issue they’re dealing with. I tell them that anyone who has done this, has read a blog. They may not have intended to read a blog, but inevitably their search led to a blog.
A common reason that people don’t read an organization’s content is because there’s no sustained teaching point of view. Ensure that you are creating content that teaches something valuable to your customer. What are the issues that your customers are trying to understand, address and take action on. Even if those issues don’t directly relate to your offerings, you’ll gain valuable traction by focusing on those topics.
3. You’re Not Promoting Your Content
It is a myth that all you have to do is identify some keywords, write content based upon them and wait for the SEO traffic and leads to start flowing. If you want people to know about your content then you have to work almost as hard getting people to be aware of it as you do creating it.
This means that you must highlight your content on all pages of your website, ensuring that the resources and blogs you create are easy to find. You should add links to your blog to your email signature. Salespeople should regularly be sending blog posts and other premium content to their prospects to highlight your insights and demonstrate your thought leadership.
It also means that you must take social media seriously. That means Twitter accounts for the company and for key people that are regular contributors. All customer-facing employees need to be on LinkedIn and spend time contributing to conversations and sharing content.
4. You’re Not Being Consistent Enough
Building an audience requires consistency. It’s funny because I’m writing this at a conference that I happen to be attending with my brother. He made a comment to me that I must feel like I’m a slave to the blog. The reality is quite different. While it certainly takes time and commitment to create the content, the impact it’s had on the business far, far outweighs the time and cost.
What I remember being a slave to is making phone calls every day to create any opportunity. I remember struggling to get people to understand who we were, what we did and why it mattered.
Today I get leads while I’m sleeping. When I make outbound calls to new leads, I’m greeted like an old friend. My sales process take less time than ever before. All of this is a result of the commitment Imagine has made to creating content consistently.
Does all of this take time? Yes it does, but the result is that you build a high value asset that scales leads and lowers your sales costs. While you can’t directly equate the action to the outcome, the time and costs associated with effective content marketing are well worth it.