Time to write my next blog post for my company’s website, piece of cake. Oh, a high importance email showed up in the inbox… I have to respond, and then right back to crafting this article. A couple hours have gone by because I was dragged into a company meeting, had to put out a fire with a potential customer, and of course make time for a quick lunch. Got some food in my stomach and some caffeine, time to get down to business. Phone is ringing. It’s my boss, wants to run through my sales pipeline quickly….an hour and a half later . Okay, no more scheduled calls today, free and clear, and I know our marketing team is waiting for this blog.
Does this sound familiar? If you ask any marketer, or anyone who contributes to his company’s content marketing, he will probably admit to having experienced something similar at one point or another. As the digital marketing landscape continues to expand, and the responsibilities of marketing departments grow with it, marketing teams are scrambling for ways to improve their efficiency – and results.
But let’s face it even if marketers were able to use every second in the day (there are actually 86,400, believe it or not) that still might not be enough to overcome daily distractions to get content marketing strategies off the ground. Worse yet, some marketers may not be willing to admit that they have a resource problem and continue to believe that their in- house content efforts are a success, when they aren’t .
Here’s a list of four tell-tale signs that will help you decide if it’s time to consider alternatives to your current content marketing efforts.
Your last blog post is a press release announcing your 2013 holiday party
Blogs are often started with such good intentions – what better way to constantly provide your prospect universe with various updates regarding your industry and products, as well as answers to their most frequently asked questions. The problem is blogs are usually hard to keep up with for most marketing teams, a main reason being the frequency of publishing that’s required to actually make a blog worth coming back to.
If you are attempting to blog, it’s imperative that you provide consistent value to your audience. An analogy I’m fond of, as corny as it may sound, is that blogging, and content marketing in general, is a lot like going to the gym. If you go once or twice a year and expect to be in great shape, fuggedaboutit!
If you are looking for your blogging to help improve your company’s SERP presence, user experience and engagement, and ultimately revenue generation capabilities, it’s imperative you actively maintain it. For many organizations with extremely limited resources, the only viable solution is to find a outside vendor who can provide the right service and product set.
Your weekly editorial meeting hasn’t happened in 2.5 months
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Without the proper preparation and planning, any content marketing effort is destined to fail.
Unfortunately for many of the marketing folks I speak with on a regular basis, finding time to brainstorm the right ideas and develop a detailed creative brief or calendar is easier said than done. This lack of direction can lead to myriad problems such as content development being delayed, the wrong messaging and branding coming across in the content, or worst of all, a lack of relevant content that actually speaks to the needs and wants of your prospects and customers.
- Firstly, make sure that you have a very solid understanding of your goals and objectives for content marketing, as well as your target audiences, messaging and branding guidelines.
- Try to establish regular creative/content meetings and do your best to stick to that schedule.
- To help make those meetings as productive as possible make sure all participants come with ideas ready to share.
- Invite different departments to share their perspective and knowledge to garner a wide array of topics.
- Develop a schedule for various types of content to be released – blogs, video, infographics, case studies etc. The more diverse the better.
None of these are cure alls for the many challenges marketers face when developing content marketing strategies or the content itself, but they are a step in the right direction and should ease some of the pain caused by lack of coordination or planning.
Internal experts you were leaning on for a lion’s share of the content don’t actually like to write
This is something I hear all too often. Many marketing departments, especially those of companies that provide very niche or technical services or solutions, will try to rely on the employees who are extremely knowledgeable in the field, such as an engineer.
Although this is great in theory, often what ends up happening is one of two things:
- Those employees might hate to write and delay any content they’ve agreed to create indefinitely (or until they are begged mercilessly by the marketing editor)
- Their schedules are so jammed packed that they just don’t have time to think of anything else but their specific roles in the company, let along spending time creating the next blog.
This doesn’t mean you have to lose out on any of the great insights these experts have to offer, and can even depend on a portion of your content to come from them with the right approach.
- Take advantage of knowledge by conducting interviews with your SME’s. This way you avoid taking too much of their time, but can still exemplify their exptertise.
- If they are interested in writing themselves, make sure to develop an appropriate schedule so they aren’t surprised when they have to write something.
- Make sure to keep a certain gap between requests for interviews or content. No one wants to feel that they are being leaned on too heavily, especially for something that isn’t their main role.
Effectively leveraging a business’s thought leadership and internal expertise is one of the best content marketing tools marketers can use, but there needs to be balance in the approach.
Your in-house “videographer” has many critically acclaimed Vines to her credit
Video marketing could not be hotter, or more effective for that matter, and most organizations are trying to take advantage of it. For good reason too, as video tends to convert better than any other content out there. Trouble is, when it comes to producing high quality video internally, there may not be many employees who have the skills.
Now it’s hard to say that video is an easy fix, without looking to outside video marketing and production professionals. That’s why instead of some advice on what to do, here are a few things to definitely avoid:.
- Don’t publish video that is recorded on a mobile phone.Unless you are running a content for the best user generated content, it is probably best to not try and shoot your product demo video on your iphone 6 due to the lack of professionalism and polish available.
- Avoid videos that are really long. Although videos’ user engagement time is really good comparative to other content types, no one is going to sit on your site for 10 minutes watching the same video.
- Vines can be great in small doses. I know, I knocked vines in the subtitle, but they can be a cool way to create a quick hitting and fun way to differentiate your content.
If you are looking to take your video marketing to the next level and don’t have the skill set internally, your best bet is to find a company who knows how to effectively produce and position video in the mix of a larger content strategy.
There’s no doubt that effectively planning and executing a successful content marketing strategy is hard, if not impossible. Outside of the time and resource challenges that exist, other problem areas like a breakdown in preparation and planning, lack of skill set or the inability to leverage in-house experts can hinder the potential results content marketing can bring. Marketers should use these signs as a warning, and if any current content efforts seem to be in a similar scenario, it may be time to change things up.