As I was doing my daily early morning scan of way too much information for anyone to actually ingest, I came across a study that was done by IDG and looked at by the Center for Media Research. The study looked at technology marketers, the classic B2B marketers who are trying to sell their wares to other businesses in most cases.
The study was interesting and talked about all the great plans for spending for 2012 but the most important piece of data in my opinion is the one that marketers often overlook which are the barriers to getting the work done. In particular, this related to an area deemed very important by these surveyed marketers: content marketing. Take a look.
Whether it’s lead generation or whatever else as the end game of online marketing, content is the crux of it all. People don’t just come to a site because they are told they should. They don’t fill in forms on sites because it’s fun. They don’t open themselves up to the sales process because they feel lonely and are looking to talk to someone.
Why do people engage with businesses, be they tech focused or not, in the online space? Usually it’s because they were given a strong piece of information that impacted them in some way. That usually comes in the form of some kind of content produced by a company whether it’s a blog post, a white paper, a video etc etc.
So while we like to sit back and say “Well, gee, it looks like content marketing is the way to go!” or “I am going to increase my spend in online marketing by a gazillion percent!” we must first understand that producing content that accomplishes business goals is not an easy thing to do. When it’s time to roll up one’s sleeves to make strides in online marketing this study shows exactly what most businesses encounter. As a result, they don’t do what they would like to do online or when they actually create content the quality is sub-standard which, in the end, ends up hurting their business.
So why even bother looking at this? It’s for the simple reason that if you are a marketer who is on an internal company team, or an agency team or are an independent consultant the concentration shouldn’t be on where or how much is going to be spent on Internet and social media marketing in 2012 but rather you should be asking “What am I going to do to get over the hurdles that are keeping my online marketing efforts in neutral?”
Here are a few quick thoughts that address each of the hurdles mentioned from this survey.
Producing enough content – This is a tough one since there is no true measuring stick about how much content is enough or even too much. Speak to the folks at HubSpot and they will tell you that you cannot produce too much content and they have the numbers to back that theory up. Maybe the better concern is to focus on quality over quantity if you are struggling with producing gobs of content for your prospects and customers.
Producing engaging content – A good goal but have you asked your customers what might be engaging to them? Marketers who do not have research staffs and analysts to do their research (which will mean the vast majority of marketers in the world) often make assumptions as to what their audience would like. When they come up short by producing something that doesn’t work they wonder where they went wrong. As we say often here at Marketing Pilgrim, DON’T ASSUME! Ask questions then produce what your target market is looking for. Makes sense right?
Measuring results – Face it, everyone has trouble doing this. Your best options are to invest in marketing automation programs that can help track these efforts. At the bare minimum you will need to ID several disparate measuring tools that work in a silo then try to mash them together to see the big picture from beginning to end. Just winging it and guessing as to what the impact was, however, will be tough to defend in a meeting with your boss. There is no silver bullet here but trying to measure beats guessing at results any day.
Delivering content to the right audiences – How your content gets in front of the wrong audiences in the first place is a bit mind boggling but I digress. Find out where your customers go for information and become part of that community. Share your content in specific areas not just in general terms. It’s like going after long tail keywords in search. So what if the numbers of people are smaller if they are A more highly qualified prospects? Do you need to talk to everyone or JUST the right ones?
Lack of budget – This is up to you to sell the concept that content marketing is critical to the company’s success. Marketers should be on top of all the latest research and information that can prove the point that they deserve more money to accomplish the goal of getting more business through content marketing. Purse string holders don’t let go unless they have a very convincing reason to do so. It’s up to the marketer to plead their case effectively. Otherwise, don’t whine about not enough budget.
Lack of consistent content strategy – This one falls squarely on the marketer. Failing to plan is planning to fail. It’s that simple. If there is no plan there will be no investment from those handling the money. As for consistency? That comes with time after the hard work of the trial and error of what does and doesn’t work is completed.
Lack of talent to produce – There is no lack of talent in the marketplace. Make room in your budget for freelancers and others who can do what you if your staff (or you) can’t. You don’t need full time talent to get the work done. Not to say that shouldn’t be a goal because it should be. This excuse holds little water because there is plenty of talent available in the marketplace. The better question is have you positioned yourself to be able to obtain that talent by showing how content marketing works to those who control the money?
These are just a few thoughts. What else do you see in this important area of online marketing? What has your experience been? How do you overcome these hurdles? Share with us if you have moment. Create a little comment content!