If you’ve been a bit distracted by the relentless pace of the change in online marketing, you may have missed all of the buzz about Content Marketing.

With the power of self-publishing on the Internet now in the hands of the many, claims about Content Marketing replacing advertising continue to increase in both volume and frequency.

What’s more, advocates and a growing number of organizations are now onboard with the idea that any brand can become a continuous publisher of content that their prospects and customers will find relevant and valuable.

But before you drink the Kool-aid, fire your agency and set out to meet the new requirement to add “publisher” and “media expert” to your title and responsibilities, let’s step back a moment and consider what success in this emerging discipline might actually take.

First, what’s Content Marketing?

In a nutshell, it’s the fuel that drives successful:

  • | Inbound marketing + lead generation
  • | Search engine optimization
  • | Social media marketing

Why is it now so hot as a marketing discipline?

Prospects today have become more advanced and demanding. And it’s now up to a brand to quench their expectations with valuable content that helps them make more informed and better decisions before and after they purchase a product or service.

What’s the point and what do you get?

The short answers to these reasonable questions include:

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1. | Search Engine Optimization

Recent search engine updates now favor frequently published, unique and popular content.

The result is that frequent and consistent creation of content to your site or blog is now required to drive traffic and support natural link building.

2. | Referral Traffic

Good problem-solving and/or entertaining content makes other websites and blogs want to link to it.

The result of these highly valued connections is a 3-5X better conversion (action) than vanilla organic search.

3. | Reason for Social Media Marketing

Without real problem-solving and/or entertaining content to post in social media, what will you share?

If it’s not obvious, we’ve long passed the days of tweeting about your lunch. So if you’re participating in Social Media, it should be enhancing traffic to your site from the content that you’re sharing in these channels.

4. | Reputation + Sentiment Management

By actively engaging in content marketing, a brand can choose to lead the conversation about their domain of expertise. The cumulative result, over time, helps to build trust, positive sentiment and brand equity around the unique value that you offer to customers.

If you think this is just a frivolous exercise, you can always trust that job to someone else. Perhaps your competitor?

Content Marketing all wrong

What kind of investment will you have to make?

First, dismiss any notion that this is a no brainer, a piece of cake and anyone can do it.

Assuming all of your efforts are based on a content calendar, aligned with the needs of your target customer personas with clarity on how the content asset will further the selling cycle to turn a prospect into a paying customer, there’s a lot that needs to get done for every asset that you create.

So no matter how you slice it, hours and resources, per month, are going to have to be accounted for and applied to:

  • | Review + evaluate all content against an established Content Calendar
  • | Initiate online research, organization, meetings, calls, and acquire background for each content asset
  • | Assign to writer and/or graphic resource
  • | Draft, review, edit + revise content
  • | Conceptualize + integrate a unique Call-to-Action | CTA for each asset to drive desiered outcome
  • | Design, develop + deploy a unique Landing Page optimized to to convert the CTA
  • | Acquire and/or create images that enhance the message and drive action
  • | Optimize each piece of content for SEO
  • | Review + approve content by internal and external team
  • | Integrate + post content with all code and tech requirements
  • | Approve + publish content at scheduled time to enhance visibility + sharing by target
  • | Distribute, promote and socialize content to maximize reach + exposure

Anything but a one-time event.

Make no mistake, success in this “continual content creation” endeavor will require a significant amount of work and participation by all parties: internal, external and everywhere in between

It will not be a flip the switch process and expect iteration—with all of the dialogue and refinement required. However, your goal should be more modern, effective and measurable marketing that:

  1. | Supports how prospects + customers find soultions through search
  2. | Nurtures new relationships + sustains existing ones
  3. | Aligns with Internet + digital shift of marketing

Before you begin, you may want to set some modest expectations. Then immerse yourself and your organization in these new marketing methods soon.

And where are you?

Has your organization started down the path of Content Marketing? Are you finding success or have you turned around in dismay. Please share your experience.