A few weeks ago, I answered a question on the FOCUS network: “What currently is your biggest challenge with content marketing?” The question inspired me so much that I couldn’t shut up, and what started out as a pithy response quickly turned into a 500-word monologue. Since a big part of any content marketing strategy is repurposing, I thought it fitting to share an adapted version of that “post” here on the Savvy blog. So, without further ado, here’s my two cents on the biggest content marketing challenges:
There are many challenges, but which is the biggest depends on the specific players and where they are in their content marketing evolution. There are a few key areas I assess at the beginning of any content marketing consultation or project: Strategy, Resources, Commitment, and Measurement. Each of these is critical to content marketing success and must be considered carefully on its own and in the context of the bigger picture. For instance, you can develop a kickin’ strategy, but if you haven’t got the resources to carry it out, you’re sunk. Or, you can have a great strategy and all the resources in the world, but if you haven’t set up a measurement method, you’ll never know what’s working and what’s not.
Investing time (and money!) in doing due diligence across these four areas is always worth the effort. It means a little more legwork up front, but it will make all the pieces fall into place much more easily later on.
1. Strategy: Depending on the client, the challenge may be convincing them of the need for a strategy or coming up with one all the stakeholders can agree on. Strategy development can also be a challenge because it often involves a lot of “discovery.” When you start digging into who you're writing for, what they need, and how you're meeting that need (or not), it tends to uncover all kinds of insights about messaging and positioning and so on. That's all GREAT, but the client has to be prepared for that (and the consultant needs to know to factor that kind of exploration/discovery into her project budget.) It's kind of like therapy - you start with one "simple" question and wind up knee-deep in conversations about the identity of the brand. It can be tough to draw the line between content strategy development and branding. Be aware and stay alert. Take advantage of all that juicy discovery, but don’t get too far off the track. Stay focused on the role of content.
2. Resources/Content Development: This is where most people expect a challenge. They approach content marketing already convinced that they will never be able to create all the content that they need in order to “do it right.” The problem (real or perceived) can be lack of resources, lack of training, or too heavy a drain on the marketing budget (for outsourced content). The best approach to this challenge is a sane one. Be realistic. There are few things that will kill future content marketing initiatives as giving someone a reason to say, "I told you so" when your first attempt falls short of pie-in-the-sky expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure by assuming a perfect scenario when you know darn well that you should really be planning for the worst case. Explore alternate content creation and curation ideas - different mediums (video, audio, etc), repurpose pillar content into multiple pieces, and come up with a manageable content curation plan that can augment the development of original content. Consider different internal sources for content – you might be surprised at who is willing to chip in. Get savvy about developing easily replicable content “types” like weekly wrap-ups, quote-of-the-day, picks & pans, and other “quick” content. Sometimes, those “quickies” wind up being your most popular features.
3. Commitment/Continuity/Perseverance: Once you've got past the rush of strategy and initial content creation, you've got to step it up in order to keep it up. Content marketing is not a sprinter's game - it's an ultra-marathon. The team needs to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Think about scheduling check-ins, intermittent brainstorming sessions to freshen things up, and other ways to keep the inspiration going. Make sure you create a shared editorial calendar to help keep everyone on track. Try to stay one step (translation: a couple of weeks) ahead of the curve at all times. Encourage your team by providing feedback and cheering their efforts. Make sure to keep open channels between content creators and content managers/editors. You never know where the next great content idea will come from and the best content marketing is a collaborative process.
4. Measurement: Measurement is usually considered to be at the end of the content marketing cycle, but it really needs to be thought of at the very beginning as well. Before you get started, think about what you’re measuring, how you’re measuring, when you’ll measure, AND what actions you’ll take based on the data you get. It's also important to measure on an on-going basis. Most content campaigns are on-going vs. having a clear start and end, so think about the measurement on a continuum instead of a finite line. Pay attention to "little" measurements and feedback - they often uncover opportunities to optimize or expand on a certain piece of content.
Are there big challenges to content marketing? Yes.
Is the effort it takes to overcome these challenges worth it? YES.
What are your biggest content marketing challenges? How have you overcome them?
About the Author: Jamie is a freelance strategist, teacher, and copywriter who partners with solo entrepreneurs to define and market their brands. Her specialties include brand development, social media strategy, and content marketing. Enjoy more of her posts, visit her site at Suddenly Marketing, or drop her an email.