Content, as they say, is king. (Well, at least we like to say it.) Branded content done well serves a very valuable role smack dab in the middle of the sales funnel and offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and authenticity in a non-promotional way. As with most things, brands must proceed with caution – content may be king, but it can easily turn your brand into a jester.
Marketers have “finally woken up to the power of content marketing,” proclaims a very smart and thought-provoking recent column in Advertising Age. Indeed, a recent study showed that 59 percent of marketers plan to increase their investment in content marketing in the coming year. (Here’s a helpful definition of content marketing.)
As more and more marketers move into the space, however, more and more opportunities for misuse and abuse of the medium arise. Especially challenging is fighting the urge to “stand out in a crowd” as the amount of branded content grows – this usually manifests itself as content that goes from smart and valuable to content that is overtly and awkwardly self-promotional. “If we simply develop content because we think it’s new, improved, quicker and easier than previous tactics,” the Ad Age column argues, “we’re doomed to get the same disappointing results that we got from banner ads.”
What to do, then, to avoid your content marketing turning into glorified banner ads?
- Respect the process. Content marketing is more than just developing content. Research and analysis play a big part in it as well. The process of effective content marketing can take time, but it’s time invested and, ideally, well spent. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
- Quality, not quantity. Less is more when it comes to effective content marketing. Build and maintain a schedule you can realistically stick to. One piece of quality content every two weeks is better than two pieces of low-quality content every week. Focus on value, not volume.
- Curation, not just creation. Part of content marketing is discovering and sharing quality content from other sources. These could be industry journals, trade publications or other thought leaders. Sharing such high-quality content – with your own insights or analysis added in – can often provide as much value for your audience as your own content.
Yes, lots of marketers are talking about and getting into content marketing. No, that doesn’t mean you should automatically do it – or that it’s easy. Proceed with caution into the world of content marketing – with the knowledge that – done right – it provides great value for your overall marketing strategy and organizational success.