A content strategy sounds like a brilliant idea for your company, and it’s something you want to implement in the New Year. And the advice on how to go about it is everywhere on the Interwebs. But it’s still easy to lose your way, because most of that advice says the same thing. (And frankly, most of it is of the “no-duh” variety.)What a lot of people aren’t telling you are the obstacles that exist, the things that will derail your strategy before it can have a positive impact on your business.
What a lot of people aren’t telling you are the obstacles that exist, the things that will derail your strategy before it can have a positive impact on your business.
So, here are seven of the obstacles that many would-be content marketers run into:
Don’t charge ahead without a tactical plan.
Tight execution is what makes a content strategy work. Before you start, you must have an understanding of the persona of the audience you’re trying to reach, along with an editorial calendar and editorial brief. You start with a broad strategy, but the minutiae of the day-in, day-out processes must be defined before you start, or you’ll never get where you’re going.
Don’t focus internally.
Traditionally, marketing has promoted company news (milestones, new products, etc.) through advertising and PR. The best content marketing strategies focus on trends and occurrences happening outside the company walls. This probably goes against the muscle memory of your organization’s executives (especially sales), but it is the marketing department’s job to maintain editorial discipline. A content strategy must provide value to the audience; if all you talk about is how great your widgets are, people will tune out quickly and the strategy will fail.
Don’t hire a freelance writer who bills you by the word.
The best writing is the most concise. Ask Ernest Hemingway. If you hire someone who has an incentive to write long, you’ve hired someone who has the wrong goal for your content.
Don’t hire a PR firm that bills you by the hour.
If you do, that article that should cost you a couple hundred dollars is going to cost you a couple thousand. The problem is the same as it is with someone who bills by the word – when someone is incentivized to spend a lot of time rather than deliver a quality product, you (the client) have conflicting goals with them (the vendor). This relationship is doomed to fail.
Don’t hire someone who’s never worked in a newsroom to be your Chief Content Officer.
Unless of course you want lame content. I’m not really sure why this is, but traditional marketing professionals don’t quite seem to be able to churn out content at the optimum pace. Having worked in newsrooms, I can tell you that newsrooms are very unique places – frequently unprofessional, always chaotic, but always focused on accomplishing the task quickly and expertly. Perhaps it’s the newsroom personality of setting ‘em up and knocking ‘em down, over and over and over again. But marketers who are smart and good writers usually come up short when it comes to content execution.
Don’t ignore SEO.
While a constant flow of great content will do a lot of the search engine lifting for your website, you can’t completely ignore SEO basics. Your content strategy must focus on keywords – by understanding what your customers and prospects are searching for, you can deliver content that you know is valuable to them. Give the people what they want.
Don’t think you’re ever done.
The newswatch never stops. So many consultants are acting like content marketing is like the discovery of fire. It’s not. It says here that it’s the smartest way to market your organization, given the new audience realities and the new tools we have at our disposal. But the true power of content marketing is in the rinse-and-repeat action. You have to do it day-in, day-out in order to become a go-to information source for your audience.