The Nasty Truth About Content MarketingBy Clay Morgan

I need to get this out from the get go.

I’m a believer in content marketing.

It is critical to the lead generation at Arment Dietrich.

Our content – blogs, guest posts, podcasts, and videos – are a part of about three-fourths of all qualified leads we generate.

However, there are a lot of claims being made about content marketing that are simply untrue.

The fact is these claims come from the same people who, in the 1990s, thought they were web designers even though they knew no code, and in the last decade thought the fact they could open a Facebook account made them a social media marketing expert.

You know who I’m talking about. Their pictures are in the dictionary next to words such as ninja, Jedi, guru, and charlatan.

Content marketing is succumbing to the same chicanery.

Build the Content and They Will Come

This is the big claim these days about content marketing and it is a lie: It goes something like, “just produce excellent content.”

Here’s the deal. I have written the best novel in the entire history of mystery novels. I actually have and that should be acknowledged. The fact that nobody has ever read it is irrelevant as I’ve adhered to the current teaching in content marketing and produced most excellent content.

I keep hearing variations on that theme. Just put it out there. Just write it and everything will change.

The problem is this is marketing, not a Kevin Costner movie. You have to do more than build it.

Newspapers, Again

The answer lies in the newspaper industry.

Every morning at around 4:30 or so, an interesting thing happens. A bundle of content mysteriously appears in my driveway. I’m writing this post on a Thursday, and today’s bundle had 46 pages of content.

Throughout the day, content is revised and I’m alerted via email, text, Facebook, and Twitter.

It is awesome.

The thing is, if you hire enough of the right people, you can match a newspaper’s ability to produce compelling content.

Now, the production of great content is very challenging on its own, but it isn’t the end of your work. Rather it is only the first step.

Content must be distributed and not just to anybody. It has to be distributed to the right people, the people who want the content and can benefit from it.

Content is not king. Distribution is. After all, if nobody reads your content, you might as well have written it on a piece of toilet paper and flushed it down. It becomes as effective as my novel, which is sitting in a filing cabinet.

Content Marketing Next Steps

First is to avoid the hype.

If someone tries to discuss “organic growth” with me, I’m likely to just stab them in the eyes.

Things going viral, organic growth, and people “finding” the content are actually the result of hard work. Usually that hard work is driven by a solid strategy.

If you are talking about content, part of the strategy is distribution.

Here are some questions you must ask:

  • How will people find the content you produce?
  • How are you going to consistently get the right content in the right hands?
  • How will they know when you have new content available?
  • Are you giving them the content in a manner they prefer?

The key is each audience has a way it prefers to receive content.

In some cases, they prefer the old ways – print in hand, which of course tends to be the priciest approach. Others like to learn of content through RSS feeds, email blasts, social media, or just by directly visiting the host website.

It’s up to you or your marketing team to discern how your readers want to receive your content and where potential new readers are hanging out.

Social should be in the mix, but here’s where the spin doctors kick in.

Just post your content on social media and everything will be fine.

Don’t you want to know how you will build the right audience on social media instead of any old audience?

Most importantly, think about how content contributes to your business goals.

If one of your goals is $1.5 million in growth during the next three years, write out a detailed pipeline.

Show yourself where the content marketing plan lies in both your marketing and in your sales efforts.

If you are hiring someone to handle your content marketing, make them draw it out. If they can’t, hire someone else.

Content marketing is like all digital marketing. You must determine what the real ROI is, and if you can’t get the content in front of the right eyeballs, the real ROI will be a big goose egg.

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc