From the Customer Retention NOW! Newsletter – April 2013
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Sorry, I’m usually not a pessimist. I don’t WANT you to fail. But for the small to medium size business in the document industry, starting and maintaining an informational content strategy to generate brand awareness and attract leads is a tall order. Most of the organizations that try don’t get the results they were hoping for.
There are three different scenarios I’ve seen played out over and over again:
1. A partial effort yields little in return – Companies publish one or two articles a year, or manage to publish a quarterly newsletter. There is no consistency and they are not present in enough channels or outlets to reach enough of their audience. Quite often there is little or no effort to build their contact list.
Organizations that have an active but inadequate content marketing strategy won’t be top of mind when prospects begin their research into vendors worthy of consideration for their next purchase. They are likely to be out-marketed by their competitors and are therefore pushed to page 3 or 4 of search results on their key phrases – practically useless. 75% of searchers never get past the first page of results.
2. Started off with a bang, then died a slow death – We see this a lot, especially with newsletters. The first issue is well-planned and delivered with fanfare. Then eventually publication dates are missed, the quality of the content declines, or both. Most often, the schedule continues to slip until months go by with no newsletters being distributed, blog postings, or articles published.
Companies often don’t realize how much time and work it is to create content on a regular basis. The missed deadlines are the result of resources being pulled away from content marketing projects (which was never a primary responsibility for them anyway) and onto something more urgent.
3. Never really got started in the first place – We’ve worked with customers who have been planning to embark on a content marketing strategy for months, sometimes even years, without ever getting out of the starting gate. There is always something else that needs to be done first – new product introductions, web site re-design, hiring a new sales manager, upgrading the CRM system, cleaning up the contact list. The list is endless.
Waiting until every detail is perfect is a death sentence for content marketing strategies. It is much better to begin creating and publishing with what is at hand and then adjust the elements later. While they are wasting time getting all their ducks in line, competitors may be establishing themselves as the primary source your prospects are trusting for industry information. Being first, even if it isn’t perfect, is an advantage.
As you might have guessed, there are things you can do to increase your chances of success with content marketing. Following the same old pattern that hasn’t worked in the past isn’t one of them. There are lots of suggestions I could make. Here are my top three. If you do only these three things your content marketing strategy will be outperforming most other small and medium size companies that continue to wallow in the ineffective half-hearted efforts that you have abandoned.
1. Make a plan – We really like editorial calendars. They provide a deadline date as well as a planned set of topics you are going to cover. Many of our clients find the editorial calendars we prepare for them to be extremely helpful.
2. Be accountable – Make sure someone else in the organization is going to be looking for results on a specific day. Even more motivating is to commit publically. Let your audience know that your newsletter or blog articles will be published on a set schedule.
3. Get started – I can’t stress this enough. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part of any project. If you decide you don’t have the resources to sustain the effort you can line up some help. Do not wait, do not let any other urgent circumstance knock you off target. And by all means, do not grant you competitors a head start!