For every handful of agencies and savvy marketers who understand content marketing's purpose, there are just as many smart marketers still grasping at straws and unfortunately, buying into myths. These fallacies prevent companies from reaching new buyers and staying competitive. Content marketing is something every company can and should embrace, regardless of its resource pool and budget. It's time to set the record straight. Here are four content marketing myths that can be laid to rest:
Myth No. 1: You need a designated content marketer to have a successful content marketing program
This might sound good in theory, but there's really no need to hire an additional position or outsource just to kick off a content marketing initiative. Companies often fall prey to the misconception that an expert must come in to handle the job. In fact, authentic content coming from existing employees can, and often does, perform beautifully. This role can safely be delegated to members of your team (committee style works great) who know your company intimately and are enthusiastic about it. If given the right guidance, your team can whip up solid content that speaks to the heart of your company and feels like it was crafted by a genuine person and not a distant outsider. Think blogs, LinkedIn discussions, emails, and even videos.
Myth No. 2: Content marketing is a fad
Believing this one can actually hurt your business. Your competitors are all jumping on this bandwagon (and for good reason), which will leave you in the dust. While there might be a fad-like quality to the rush to board the content marketing boat, the method is in no way a flash in the pan. Most metric-driven marketing strategies actually require content, and the presence of high quality content will continue to be in high demand. Take lead nurturing for example, which is a proven strategy that most organizations are deploying. For lead nurturing to be successful, an ongoing system of deploying content is required to educate the buyer and culminate in sales. This sort of necessity for content will only keep increasing.
Myth No. 3: It's best to have a storehouse of content before starting a content marketing program
As marketers, we can often be our own worst enemy. Perfectionism and an overwhelming urge to spend too much time strategizing can cause even the best of marketers to delay something that should be pounced on. No one would deny the need for a plan and a little runway. But waiting until you have boatloads of content before embarking on the content marketing journey can be fatal to your marketing presence. Not to mention, you risk putting out content that is stale because it's been sitting for too long.
Instead of waiting until you have enough content to take you through the next six months, strike with what you do have, to at least create an initial presence. Lead nurturing, by definition, takes place over time, and that time also buys marketers some leeway to identify existing decks that can be spruced up, blog posts that can be updated and repurposed, or marketing copy that played well in a handout and could look great online or in an email. Having a lack of any content weakens your brand's credibility and sacrifices its place in the minds of buyers. Stay top of mind for prospects by giving them the little pieces of content you do have, and keep building momentum until you have a steady flow. As we've all learned at one point or another, strategy and forethought are great, but it's action that begets results.
Myth No. 4: Content marketing produces immediate ROI
It's imperative you understand that content's value is often intangible initially. As much as you want metrics to show its worth right off the bat, the loyal customers and relationships with the brand that it creates can have more positive long-term results. Don't give up on it. In the short term, check in with your analytics to see if the content has driven leads to download your e-book or explore new areas of your website, and gauge the preliminary value of content marketing using methods like this one. The real worth of content marketing, through the loyal customers it can create, will reveal itself over time. Be patient.
Content marketing might be the shiny new toy in the marketing world, but it's also the one that is sure to endure in an ever-evolving marketing landscape. In order to harness its greatest potential, savvy marketers need to disavow its myths and stick to its truths.
Justin Gray is the CEO and chief marketing evangelist at LeadMD.
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