Aaah, I remember the good old days. You remember them, don't you? You know, the days when creating good content was the key to successful content marketing and inbound marketing?
Don't get me wrong, you still need good content, but today it's a commodity. Let's admit the truth; there's more than enough good content out there on just about every subject. And while there's more bad content than good, and the volume of bad content is growing faster than good content; good content is simply not enough to drive your results.
But, before you jump to the obvious conclusion that this blog post is about the need to create great content, that is not what I'm suggesting. Frankly, as I've been studying the keys to success, I'm increasingly convinced that for most companies, creating great content is not the answer. Simply put, the investment of time and energy (and as a result - money) to get from good content to great content isn't justified - the juice isn't worth the squeeze.
How can I say this? Isn't this content marketing heresay? Look, I'm not saying having great content is bad. Instead what I'm saying is that if you're not utilizing your content (super) effectively, your focus should be on optimizing your process before enhancing your content.I have to admit that creating content is a pain in the, well...it's difficult; it's a necessary evil. You simply have to create content, as it is the fuel the drives the modern demand generation playbook. I don't care what you're doing: inbound marketing, sales development, account based marketing (ABM), video or any variation of these - you need content to fuel your engine.
Good content is like mid-grade gasoline. It performs much better (for cars and the environment) than low-grade gas. But, if you've got anything less than a high-performance automobile, anything more than mid-grade fuel will have a negligible impact, expect to reduce the value of what's in your wallet.
The same goes with content. Before exerting the energy and money to make great content, invest in creating a high-performance engine (process).
Here are the 7 keys to a high-performance demand generation process:
I've seen companies create great content that just doesn't match with the people they need to influence. I experience this problem myself. I'm so passionate about what we're doing and have studied these issues to near exhaustion that if I'm not careful content (great as it is) overshoots my audience.
2. Market/Message Fit
Be sure your content matters and that your audience finds it more than interesting. Your content must influence. If you can't clearly and succinctly articulate your commercial teaching point-of-view, master that.
I was recently talking with the head of a marketing group for a growth oriented company. The subject of their blog came up, and the topic turned to metrics. I asked how did they know that the investment in blogging was worth it. His response was that they track subscribers and that their goal was to get to 15,000 subscribers.
Subscribers are certainly a metric worth tracking, but should not be an objective in and of itself. Upon further analysis, I was able to point out that in the period that their blog had its biggest jump in subscribers, more important metrics like engagement and revenue contribution were down. This was a perfect example of someone who was creating legitimately great content, and it was a waste.
One of the biggest challenges companies that have embraced content are having today is utilizing it. They got thousands of blogs posts, white papers, e-books, checklists, tools and more, and they just sit there. Salespeople don't use them because they either can't find it quickly or don't know what to use.
The most frustrating part of starting a blog is that you have to put a tremendous amount into it before you get the first drips out. I remember when I started blogging. I put together insightful, witty thoughts, knowing the world be beating a path to read it. I quickly realized that the only people reading it were my wife, my mom and some crazy guy in China (seriously, this guy was nuts!).
Before going from good to great content, be sure to build your distribution engine, so the content you create gets consumed.
I recently posted on this topic when I shared that before any other KPI has any meaning, there's one metric that matters most. If accelerating your growth is important, your first job is to build attention and engagement of your addressable market. The question you ask should never be how many visits, clicks, downloads, etc. did you get, but who did it?
7. Strong Lead Nurturing Strategy & Process
No matter how great your content is, you're never going to create a piece that someone reads and thinks, "Wow!! I never even considered this before...please can I buy from you?" Your content builds impact over time, and the key to that is an effective lead nurturing approach.
When your engine is built and optimized, then investing in great content is powerful. Think of it this way. If you wanted to win the Daytona 500, would you buy jet fuel and put it in your 1984 Pontiac Fiero, or would you build a powerful engine to put in a Toyota Camry?
Now, I know that a lot of people (and many of my agency community peers) will bristle at this notion, as they take pride in the premium quality of their creations, but I challenge them to connect that pride to business outcomes. Remember, I am in no way condoning poor or even average content; your content must be good.
Before investing in great content, build a high-performance demand generation engine first. Your sales team, company, and cash flow will all be joyous that you did.