As companies continue to favor publishing as a marketing tactic, there are likewise rising indications that many of us are “doing it wrong.”
In 2016, 88% of B2B and 76% of B2C respondents in Content Marketing Institute’s annual study said they were involved with content as a key component to their marketing programs. Paradoxically, however, the percentage of those who said their strategies were effective significantly dropped compared to previous years, with only 30% of B2B marketers and 38% of B2C marketers giving positive responses to this question.
Why is it so much easier for today’s brand leaders to commit to publishing than it is for them to achieve success? Why does it seem to be getting harder for them as time goes on? A lot of it comes down to getting in the right mindset about content, and unfortunately, misconceptions are rampant. Here are three common ones, along with some advice as to how to overcome them.
- Confusing Content with Advertising
The idea of “brands as publishers” has been widely promoted by marketing experts and business thought leaders over the past few years, which explains why adoption has been so ubiquitous. But the nuances involved have eluded many marketers, who confuse blog posts with sales copy, for example. Whereas advertising is by nature sales-oriented and interruptive, good content is meant to attract readers who enjoy the free wisdom or otherwise utilitarian value of published items.
As Greg Satell recently put it in an essay for Harvard Business Review, content marketers “need to think more like publishers, but they also need to act more like publishers if they are ever going to be able to hold an audience’s attention.”
By adopting this mindset, the consistent attention will follow, along with the opportunities to convert, turn to brand ambassadors, get feedback or achieve whatever business goal is set as a priority. Without understanding this paradigm, organizations have slim chances of resonating with audiences.
- Producing Too Much Content
If content marketing success is contingent on consistent publishing, then the more content you produce, the better it will perform, right? Not so much.
Accenture’s global 2015 report on content production trends reveals that 50% of marketers are producing more content than they can effectively manage. Although most marketers recognize the difficulty in optimizing the process of digital content creation and promotion, they still fail to properly assess the volume they actually need. This translates into considerable time and money loses, which can tip the ROI scales into loss territory.
What company leaders need to know here is that content marketing doesn’t compel us to become content production machines. Rather, we need to re-focus our efforts, emphasizing strategy and getting aligned with our priorities. When there’s too much happening to keep track of, balls start to drop. But when all activity flows outwards from a unified, documented plan, the chances of success spike.
- Overlooking Content Distribution
More and more marketers are finally coming to the realization that content is likely to go unnoticed unless they have detailed distribution strategies in place. While using owned media and shared discovery platforms definitely puts companies into a position to reach larger audiences, true influence takes time to build.
A number of studies show that only a small percentage of companies invest in getting their published content seen. Altemeter, for example, recently found that while 53% of marketers say they need to work on distributing their content, only 26% feel that they’re investing sufficiently in building out their distribution networks.
While it’s clear that there is a striking misbalance between production and distribution, solutions can be elusive. The leading experts have different suggestions related to ways companies can balance these two integral aspects of content marketing, noting that for every dollar or hour spent on publishing, at least one dollar or hour ought to be earmarked for distribution. Of course, this magic formula won’t work for every organization, but it certainly puts the entire issue into perspective and gives an excellent starting point.
Addressing Our Challenges
Revolutionary as it may sound, the potential of digital publishing indeed requires significant changes in perspective.
With the focus shifting from your company to your audience, it’s time to shed the traditional marketing mindsets that are holding your company back, so you can make space for fresh, strategic thinking about your content marketing.