You’ve listened to the experts, and you’ve decided to make content a big part of your internet marketing campaign. Congratulations.
But is your plan actually working?
Creating and maintaining a successful content marketing strategy is hard work. Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of business owners who simply don’t understand that. They think they’ve got a content marketing strategy because they update their blog every now and then and put a link to each post on Twitter. In this case, ignorance ISN’T bliss. If your content marketing strategy isn’t right, you’ll never get the exposure, the reputation, or the sales numbers that you’re hoping for.
So, is YOUR content marketing strategy a big, fat failure?
To answer that question, you’ve got to ask yourself three other questions:
1. Do you have any ulterior motives?
Sure, every company with a content marketing strategy is trying to increase its exposure and, thus, increase its sales. However, that doesn’t mean you can slip a sales pitch into an article or blog post that’s supposed to be purely informational. If you think your readers won’t notice, think again. According to a study just completed by Kentico, “even signing off an otherwise objective blog post or newsletter with a product pitch will bring the content’s credibility level down by 29 percent.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t use your content to generate more sales, though. If you simply educate your readers — with no strings attached — they’ll be more likely to trust you and, thus, buy from you. Consider all of those articles, blog posts, and newsletters to be a “pre-sales pitch.” Hook your readers with legitimately helpful information, and they’ll be happy to visit your website and check out your formal sales pitch.
2. Are you taking advantage of every opportunity?
Great content marketing strategies are multi-dimensional. For example, if all you’re doing is publishing a new blog post every week or every month, you’re missing out on countless other opportunities — like building an e-mail list and sending out regular newsletters to keep yourself fresh in people’s minds, publishing videos that can help people get to know you and your products better, and expanding your reach by guest posting on authoritative websites.
Just how powerful can a diverse content strategy be? Just ask the executives over at Lululemon. The company sells yoga pants and other athletic clothing, but it has used its Web content to build a “whole body” brand. Its blog posts, tweets, and YouTube videos will show you everything from how to do complicated yoga poses, to how to motivate yourself to stick to your workout routine, to how to pick the right foods so that you feel your best. As a result, Lululemon has become a household name, and analysts are predicting that they’ll see over $380 million in revenue by the time 2014 comes to a close.
3. Do you know the difference between “expert” and “guru?”
Spend more than 10 minutes talking with other Internet marketers, and the term “guru” will inevitably come up. That’s because the Web is chock full of people who have deemed themselves gurus to sell more products.
But there’s a problem with being a guru. Look carefully, and you’ll see that I said “deemed themselves.” That’s the difference between being a guru and being an expert. When you’re truly an expert, you don’t need to run around telling everyone how smart you are. People can simply read your thoughts, analyses and insights and see that you bring a high level of expertise to the table. In the long run, experts are much more highly-regarded than gurus because they walk the walk —instead of just talking the talk. Experts provide legitimate information; gurus work to boost their own egos.
If your content marketing strategy is focused on puffing out your own chest and feeling important, you’re failing miserably. Successful web content answers readers’ questions and solves their problems. Take an honest look at your content. If it’s not providing genuine value to your readers, all of the promotion in the world won’t make it better. You can put lipstick on a pig, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig.