4 Steps to Fixing your Content Marketing Program

By Joe Basques
Footwasher Media Vice President Shapeimage_5

A short piece in Entrepreneur.com looked at "7 Inconvenient Truths About Content Marketing” provided a nice summary of some of the major pitfalls to avoid in your content marketing program.  Anyone starting a new content marketing program, however, would be a bit discouraged in the endeavor because it did little, to tell you how to avoid, much less fix, these problems.   

So let’s fill in those blanks.

1.  Strategy, Strategy, Strategy...

The article points out that content marketing without strategy is essentially worthless.  I agree completely.  Strategy is the cornerstone of any content marketing program and documenting it is crucial.  Multiple research studies (Forresters and Content Marketing Institute to name two) have demonstrated that companies with a documented content strategy are seeing tremendous results from their programs with measurable ROI.  Those without a strategy are not happy with their programs because they have no idea what the ROI is supposed to be.  Here’s the kicker: The studies show that between 80% - 90% of the companies interviewed for the survey do not have a documented strategy.  My own personal experience confirms these numbers.

I call that wasting your time and it’s why so many pundits are claiming that content marketing is dead. The reality is, in the case of most companies, content marketing is dead on arrival because it lacks a strategic focus.  

While the article also points out that strategy isn't free or easy. We know that it doesn't have to be expensive.  Yes, it will cost some money for a comprehensive strategy, but without it you won't see the ROI and you're wasting your time.  It's the foundation of your program, so seek professional to help.  Footwasher Media will even give you a free evaluation of your program to help you get started.

2.  Everyone's An Expert...

I think this is the single most common sales objection we hear at Footwasher Media regarding content development.  Most anyone and everyone who's ever passed an English class thinks they can write content for their website.  The truth is, you may be proficient for an English class, but writing content or creating a video that people want to share and engage with is completely different.  

Footwasher Media takes a journalistic approach to content because journalists are trained to find the unique angle in just about every story.  They'll find things you'll never think of because they don’t come from the angle of the corporation but from that of the user. 

Marketers and engineers generally only look at what they think is the upside of their products/technology without actually considering the perspective of the user. Most of them can’t do anything else because they are so immersed in their own messaging. The problem is that how they describe their technology is generally the way they’ve heard the competition describe theirs. So if your content is not unique, your customers can’t tell the difference between you and your competitors, which mean you’re still wasting your time.  The world of content marketing is constantly changing.  

Content marketing is about much more than content.  It’s about platforms, infrastructure and metrics too.  The metrics you are looking at now are probably not the metrics that demonstrate ROI. Even click bait sites like Buzzed are learning that merely reposting someone else’s content is a good way to kill your readership. They are changing their measurements from unique visits and clicks to time spent on the site and sharing. If you want to measure true ROI, hire an expert.  We're constantly studying the changes in platforms and metrics and will get you the best ROI.  When you visit a doctor for critical help, you want someone who’s versed in the latest tools and techniques because your life depends on it.  You should want no less from your content marketing team because your business depends on it.

3.  All content is NOT created equally...

It's generally true that you get what you pay for.  We know many content providers that will repurpose content by including a bunch of keywords.  This doesn’t work and creates useless content.  It’s garbage because it's cheap, easy to do and everyone is doing it.  This ties in to the point above.  Journalists are trained to find the unique angle in just about every story.  They'll find things that are really interesting and your readers really want to engage with and share.  Here's something else to think about: Google’s algorithms know the difference between useless info and quality content and so do customers. We recently did an evaluation for a small tech company and found that even though they were producing copious amounts of content, their SEO was in the toilet and no one was reading their stuff.  The reason, they were plagiarizing their own content in multiple sites and the search engines were dinging them for not having original content… even though it was their own original content being reposted. As the experts, we were able to see that almost instantly.

So hire an expert. It doesn’t have to be a full-time person or have a long-term contract and committment. You can bring them on for evaluation and training only. We believe the best use of our skills and knowledge are on a short-term basis. We look at your current program and resources and help you find the additional tools and gain the understanding of how media works. And then we can move on after a few months. You don’t need to sign a year-long agreement and you don’t have to bust your budget.

4.  It's a lousy time to have a service business...

This is where I really disagree with the article.  It's not a bad time to own a service business.  I work in a service business.  Even product-based companies are service businesses. No matter what kind of business you are, though, you have to find what differentiates you from everyone else and write about that.  Most of the time, what you write about isn’t about the widget you sell but how you make your customers’ lives better and more efficient.  Each one of us has a unique perspective on life.  If you can’t figure out what that is, hire an expert and they'll help you figure that out. What makes you different is often something only someone outside of your walls can figure out.