Why Content Marketing Isn’t for Everyone

Customer relationships are getting more complicated by the second. Organizations may be eager pull the trigger on a new content marketing initiative to keep up with the changing customer expectations, but that’s not always the best decision. The organization isn’t just trying a new campaign; it’s investing in a whole new operational beast with content marketing. If you aren’t quite sold on the commitment, resources, and strategy that comes with content marketing processes, then ask yourself these questions. You may find content marketing just isn’t for you.

Is Your Organization Prepared for the Process?

Organizations who want to “give content marketing a try” are often shocked to find their content marketing isn’t showing an incredible return on investment in 3-6 months. They axe their content marketing efforts in spite of the ideal process taking place right under their noses. Unfortunately, the organization is missing that the value content marketing is building for customers, something that won’t be realized in the short-term for most organization.

I found this lesson out the hard way by encouraging a chiropractic organization to begin a content marketing initiative – educating folks about ways to keep themselves, and their backs, happy and healthy. Unfortunately, even after spending time explaining the long-term commitment content marketing efforts take to become successful, they canned the program after a month. They were a grumpy bunch, to say the least.

There are four steps to the content marketing process the organization must commit to create, optimize, listen, and learn. The key isn’t just to go through the process once, but over a long period of time as your efforts become more and more valuable for your audience. Yes, this means you need to be agile to find the sweet-spot and reach your goals, but that’s because you’re committed! This also means resources must be available for experimenting, and in some cases, for failure.

Are the Resources Available for Success?

Producing great content takes time and talent. Building a content marketing team isn’t cheap. Promoting your content marketing efforts also isn’t cheap. Nor should it be. If you have all the people and all the money, then you pass this test, but for the other 99.9% of organizations, you need to look long and hard at where content marketing fits into the budget.

I recently had a conversation with a non-profit who wanted to give content marketing into their organization. The process made perfect sense for them, but when it came to the discussion about resources, it was clear their people and budgets were stretched entirely too thin. It was then and there they were going to put content marketing efforts on hold until they had more resources to bring on the personnel and had allocated the proper amount of finances to make their efforts successful.

Try picturing your budgets, both in people and in finances as one big pie. You either should replace a slice of your current pie with your content marketing efforts, or create an entirely larger pie. When you factor in content creators, editors, audience managers, and promotion, implementing content marketing may turn out to be a bigger slice of the pie than you anticipated.

Do You Have a Specific Audience You Want to Serve?

The Content Marketing Institute found that brands around the world are spending (on average) over 32% of their total marketing budget on content marketing. From that perspective, there is enough interest in content marketing to allocate resources to it. That still doesn’t mean it’s going to be right for the organization, though. There must be a specific audience you are looking to serve with content marketing.

Our team ran into this issue when helping consult with a small startup company. The startup folks were super excited about creating content for every active person, from marathon athletes to bowling enthusiasts. My hope is that many of you just face-palmed. It’s nearly impossible to create quality content to a menagerie audiences – on a startup’s budget. Where would you even start with that kind of task at hand?

As the old saying goes, “if you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything for anyone.” Brands who are used to serving 3 or 4 or even ten different audiences with their products or services must focus hard to create successful content marketing. Does that mean you exclude a key target audience for your current content marketing efforts? Absolutely. If you don’t do that, you’ll never be able to bring something new and valuable to the table for your audience.

Are You Bringing Something New to the Table?

Our friends at CMI also found that 76% of B2C organizations say they are engaged in some sort of content marketing efforts. Of those content marketers, another 77% said they intended on increasing content creation in the upcoming year. That’s a ton of content across the board. If you aren’t bringing something new to the table with your organization’s content marketing, then don’t do it.

You should be filling some gap with content marketing. It doesn’t matter if you are focused on customer retention and evangelism, or leads and sales, you first need to check yourself before you hop into a crowded space. Is there a need for your content marketing efforts? Can you fulfill that need exceedingly well? If the answer’s yes, you may pass go, collect your $200, and be on your merry way toward content marketing success!

Author: Jaden Bales
Jaden Bales is co-founder and lead strategist at Mountain Valley Marketing, a digital marketing firm rooted in the Pacific Northwest. He spends his professional time helping clients create exceptional customer experiences online and his personal time seeking out exceptional experiences outdoors. Follow him on Twitter at @heyjbales