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The 5 Biggest Misconceptions About Content Marketing

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As content marketing continues to grow in popularity (and for good reason!), I have also observed the growing number of misconceptions emerging about content marketing and what it actually is.  More and more businesses are interested in adopting this perspective of marketing, but few and fewer seem to be doing it correctly.  So, let’s all start your marketing efforts off right in the New Year by first debunking a few of the biggest content marketing myths out there today.  You don’t need to be marketing machine to get content marketing right, but you definitely need to avoid these five misconceptions:

1. Content = Content Marketing

People everywhere: a blog post or YouTube video does not equate to content marketing.  Just because you have some content on your website and are creating some interesting posts here and there on social channels, does NOT mean that you are doing content marketing.  Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing clearly as a… “Marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract andacquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”  In other words, content marketing is a long-term system of strategically planned pieces of content created for the sole purpose of adding value to a very specific audience that organically leads to actual profit.  Content outside of this strategic, measurable system is just white noise that lands on deaf ears.

2. If You Write It, They Will Come

Have you ever written a fantastic blog article that took you too many hours, and when you finally had it buttoned-up and publish-perfect, you hit that shiny “publish” button holding your breath in anticipation of the thousands of people waiting to see your words crawl across their feeds!… only to be disappointed that it was shared maybe a handful of times? This has something to do with my first point and relates to the important notion of having not only a strategy for the content you create and for whom, but also how you promote it and which media channels you use when.  Many of my esteemed peers have written amazing articles about ways to start or enhance a business blog and gain more blog subscribers.  And the reason why there are so many helpful tips out there for blogging is because it’s a very crowded space that takes more effort than simply hitting “publish” these days.  This can certainly be discouraging to businesses just starting out with blogging or trying to jump-start their efforts again, because it’s consistency over time that leads to lasting organic results.

3. It’s a New Way of Marketing

Not really.  I tend to think it’s a “refresh” of what talented marketers have always done, but with new tools that allow us to do it even better.  It is not as if marketers woke up in these last two years and thought, “Eureka! I know! We need to identify and create strategy around specific target audiences!”  That certainly isn’t the case.  What has changed is marketer’s abilities to engage with consumers in meaningful and relevant ways as a result of online social platforms that simply didn’t exist years ago.  Content marketing demonstrates a renewed application of fundamental marketing principles in order to successfully raise brand awareness, attract new customers, engage audiences, convert strangers to leads, close, and then delight customers. The cycle is the same, but the methods and means to guide that cycle are ever changing and will continue to evolve with the way the consumer gathers information and makes purchasing decisions.

4. It’s Not That Time Consuming

Actually. It is.  There is no other way I can slice this, other than tell you that anything worth the reward takes hard work.  Content marketing is absolutely not your “get results fast” gimmick, nor did it ever pretend to be.  It is, without apology, a long-game strategy.  I like to equate content marketing to a personal trainer, because long-lasting, sustainable results requires the commitment to work hard, be consistent, make some life-style changes, and stick with it.  Content marketing is exactly the same way.  In order to reach your content marketing goals, it takes time to first build the foundation needed to sustain a healthy program, with occasional change-ups to prevent plateauing.  Then, even when you get into a good rhythm and all is well, you can’t ride the wave of complacency, because the minute you stop working – you start losing what you’ve worked so hard to build.  Content marketing is really about establishing good content creation and sharing habits so that you can sustain your efforts.  Automation programs help to streamline parts of the process, but just like a treadmill can’t run for you – automation can’t replace you either.

5. It Doesn’t Require a Separate Strategy

Yes it does and anyone who suggests otherwise doesn’t know what he’s doing.  He who has a map, gets to where he wants to go.  Content marketing without a documented strategy is very unwise.  Because you are creating content for each stage of the sales cycle and then have campaigns running concurrently to nurture people within these various stages – I cannot, for the life of me, understand how anyone could keep it all organized without a strategy and content calendar.  It would be pure chaos. Not to mention, if you don’t follow a strategic plan with KPIs and other important metrics, you won’t be able to accurately measure and quantify marketing effectiveness.  Organization is necessary to successfully execute content marketing efforts.

These are five of the biggest misconceptions I’ve seen about content marketing in recent months.  Do you have others to share?

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