Few things look more pathetic than a blog with six weeks of posts and then…nothing. Seriously, people, if your business is so uninspiring and staid that nothing of note happens for months on end, at least don’t advertise it by leaving an unmaintained blog or social media account languishing in cyberspace for all to see. So how do you avoid this content marketing face-plant? There’s plenty happening that you could and should be sharing with current and potential customers through content marketing. It’s just that you’re not. Sharing it, that is. Because for many well-intentioned SMBs, creating content is just a note on their to-do list under the “when you have time” category but it never quite makes it to the top of the list.
SMBs that turn their backs on content marketing as too difficult or time consuming do so at their own risk. Forbes magazine recently reported that 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that brands that provide custom content care about building relationship with them. As more and more businesses incorporate fresh, timely content into their marketing efforts, those who don’t may well find themselves beaten by the competition.
The three major factors that lead to content creation failure are:
- Lack of Strategy
- Lack of Planning
- Lack of Accountability
Lack of Strategy
One of the truly great things about having a content strategy is that it forces you to think about your business goals and strategy on a regular basis. This sounds rather simplistic but really, most SMBs have so many tasks to complete everyday - the logistics of sales, operations, employee relations, accounting, government regulations, just to name a few – it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. But with a thoughtful, coherent content strategy laid out on a calendar as your guide, you can return to it again and again and re-affirm (or maybe re-align) your goals on a regular basis. Are you focused on the right products and services? Are you reaching the customers you want to engage? Do you want more newsletter subscribers? Website visitors? Qualified leads? E-commerce sales? Establishing the answers to these questions not only directs your content strategy but your business priorities as well.
Lack of Planning
Failing to plan and commit to blogging topics in advance can doom any content marketing plan. The process is called mapping your content for a reason. Your blog calendar is your map to get you where you want to go. As much as we would like to believe that within each of us lies a limitless load of creativity we can draw upon every Monday morning from 8:00-9:00AM to crank out a piece of original, compelling content, often all we end up with is a blank document and a load of writer’s block induced frustration. Even if you don’t suffer from writer’s block regularly, having specific blog topics tied to your business goals is still important for other reasons, not the least of which is to avoid meandering aimlessly from subject to subject or worse, writing the same, slightly disguised infomercial week after week that visitors will quickly tune out.
Producing quality content on a regular basis requires some industry research to back your contentions, so planning the topics in advance allows you curate content for future posts. If you need to interview someone to get the information you need, it gives you a time frame to plan that as well. A blog editorial calendar is a working document that will keep you focused on agreed upon objectives without being too constrictive. If there are new happenings in your world that would significantly affect your customers, you can certainly adjust your content calendar as long as you keep in mind your underlying goals as you make these adjustments.
Lack of Accountability
Another pitfall in the content creation process is lack of accountability. Often a victim of “when I have time-ism”, content writing is an add-on often assigned to stakeholders as a “nice to have” rather than a priority. Let’s face it, most customers aren’t burning up the phone lines demanding your next blog post. Not surprisingly then, creating content falls down the priority list as other fires and opportunities come up. Mapping your content with specific deadlines and assigning owners to that content makes it much more likely that you’ll meet your goals. Showing your team the results of their work can also be a great motivator in the content process. Define at the start what you want to achieve and track and analyze your success along the way. If you don’t to measure the value of your marketing efforts, it tends to take a back seat to other activities.
For more information about developing an effective content marketing strategy and measuring the effectiveness of your own content, download our FREE Blog Editorial Calendar Template today and start creating content that delivers measurable results.