Martin McGourty

Is this the time of our content discontent?

Posted on 17th August 2016 by Martin McGourty

"The problem with many content marketing efforts is that activity is disjointed and appears random. Without an effective strategy, based on clear objectives, content marketing can become a less than well-oiled machine."

Content marketing may feel like just another buzzword but 89% of UK marketers are now doing it according to the CIM’s last Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report. Every year that number creeps closer to 100.

Far from being a novel new approach, content marketing is now an essential B2B sales tool. We all recognise its power to drive lead generation and turn prospects into customers.

Yet, just a third (34%) of marketers feel they are being effective, and almost two thirds (61%) say producing engaging content is their top challenge.

But with everyone jumping on the content marketing bandwagon, how do you stand out and get an edge on the competition?

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Why your content marketing is a non-starter….

The problem with many content marketing efforts is that activity is disjointed and appears random. Without an effective strategy, based on clear objectives, content marketing can become a less than well-oiled machine.

Only by identifying a problem can you hope to solve it, in our latest toolkit – No Contest: A Marketer’s Guide to Winning the Content Race – we’ve examined the five most common reasons for content marketing discontent.

  1. Running out of gas

2016 – What a time to be alive! We are blessed with a true arsenal of digital marketing weapons to help us identify, reach, track and engage our target audiences. From marketing automation tools and social listening programmes to an ever-growing number of distribution channels, we can purchase the most powerful marketing “engine” that money can buy. However, without the right content and ideas to fuel it, marketing campaigns are destined to fail.

This is a marathon not a sprint. Planning is vital to ensure a steady stream of long-running content that  helps push prospects through the sales funnel.

  1. Lack of clear direction

Before starting a race, you need to have a clear eye on the finish line. The same applies to content marketing. When you put activity before strategy, content lacks purpose – it isn’t well positioned to win.

You need to focus on the objectives and what you hope to achieve. What action do you want your target audience to take after reading or viewing your content?

This means truly knowing and understanding your audience – where they are in the buying cycle and the specific challenges they face. Only then can you create ideas-led content that answers their questions, deepens their engagement and nudges them onto the next stage of the buyer journey.

  1. Backseat drivers

Nobody likes a backseat driver. They distract, create tension and can end up steering you wildly off track.

This is as true in content marketing as anywhere else. If too many competing stakeholders want to input on the design and delivery of the campaign, you will lose focus and consistency.

While it is absolutely necessary to gather as much insight, customer intelligence and buy-in as possible from different areas of the business, it is also essential that marketing keep a tight control on the eventual output. It’s our role to ensure consistent and impactful messaging.

  1. Chaotic pit stops

As incredible as it sounds in 2016, marketing, PR and sales teams in many organisations still work in silos.

Yet, a coordinated approach is vital to ensure consistency of message across every touch-point, be that media, email marketing or a sales conference.

To truly resonate with audiences, Marketing and PR teams need to get salespeople on board. They are a vital resource for customer and prospect insight and, arguably, your most important channel to the outside world.

  1. False start

Many marketers are also guilty of starting with enthusiasm and running out of steam, understandable when you’re seeing little return from your investment (due to all of the above).

While the first blast of content is important, the subsequent outreach need to maintain momentum and continue to attract and nurture prospects.

….The result of all of that? If you do content marketing badly, you could spend a lot of wasted time and budget on assets that don’t work for your audience. Worse still, you risk confusing them with poorly planned messages. Not only will you not win the content marketing race, you may be out of contention altogether.

This post is part of Man Bites Dog’s ‘No Contest’ blog series on developing long-running marketing, PR and sales programmes that sell, and are driven by compelling content.

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