Written by: Kevin Cain
When people hear the term content marketing they typically think of white papers and website copy, infographics and eBooks, blog posts and videos.
In short, they think of all of the content that their marketing teams produce to attract and retain great customers. And, while those are all great examples of the types of content that can be used for content marketing, the fact is that content marketing goes well beyond just marketing content.
The reality is that your marketing team members probably aren’t the only people in your organisation who are creating content. There might, for example, be a group of writers housed somewhere in your product team who are responsible for creating technical content such as users’ manuals and product guides. Or maybe you have a corporate affairs team whose responsibilities include putting together a report on your company’s social responsibility initiatives. Other companies have investor relations teams that create content for shareholders, not least of which includes the annual report. The list goes on.
The point is that there’s a really good chance that you will find lots of non-marketers creating content across your organisation. If you’re not taking advantage of that, or worse aren’t even aware of it, you’re not only missing out on a big opportunity, but also potentially putting your company’s brand at risk.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this.
The opportunity: You’ve got access to lots of great content, so start using it!
Content marketers often cite their inability to create enough content as the biggest challenge they face. In fact, it was the second most common challenge B2B marketers cited in the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Prof’s 2014 report on content marketing budgets, benchmarks, and trends. However, if you take a look around, you may quickly discover that there is far more content at your disposal than you could ever wish for. The key, of course, is identifying the value in that content and utilising it appropriately.
For example, although you may think of your company’s technical content as dry and boring, and not very effective as a marketing tool, that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, technical content is becoming an increasingly useful tool for driving sales. According to one survey I saw recently, 32 percent of buyers look at product instructions before they buy. Good technical content is also very valuable for boosting customer satisfaction by, for instance, allowing people to troubleshoot their own challenges with a product without having to contact the help desk.
The challenge: With lots of different people creating content, how do you ensure quality and consistency?
The downside to having all of those content creators across your organisation is that it greatly increases chances for inconsistency. Not only may different groups have different approaches to seemingly innocuous details such as whether or not they use serial commas, they may well also use different terminology, adopt a different tone of voice, or otherwise create content that doesn’t properly align with your company’s brand.
As a result, your company might be producing content that collectively feels disjointed and that speaks to your audience in multiple distinct voices rather than just one. That in turn often leads to confusion, which can dilute your brand. In short, all of that content designed for your customers can actually work against you by turning them off.
So how do you take advantage of the opportunity while minimising the challenges?
The first step is to get your head around all of the content that your company is creating. Talk to your business partners and ask them to share their plans about what they plan on producing next. Then look for opportunities to utilize that content for your own content marketing efforts.
Beyond that, it’s important to create and enforce standards. One way to do so is by creating brand and editorial style guides that establish the rules of the road for content creation within your organisation. The downside to this is that creating these guides is time-consuming and even once you have invested the resources into do so, enforcing them is incredibly difficult.
Another increasingly popular option it to consider using content optimization software, which often works within the content authoring tools you’re already using, thereby ensuring that you adhere to the company’s standards while creating each piece of content, rather than try to police for it after the fact.
The reality is that content marketing is about more than just marketing content. That may be a double-edged sword, but if you figure out how to manage it all, you will have a huge advantage.