Content marketing will accelerate your business’ growth if the right conditions exist. With the right conditions, your content will attract qualified prospects who use your content to answer their questions and pre-sell themselves.
On the other hand, launching a content plan prematurely will confuse and frustrate readers.
In this post we’ll discuss the 7 signs to look for before deploying a content strategy. While there are other factors, we’ve found these to be the most important to success.
Sign #1: Product / Market Fit
Are you seeing consistently increasing sales, a sign that your market understands your product and sees its value? Content marketing is built on credibility. You need a relevant and valuable product to be credible.
Focus on the value of your information if you don’t have a product. In this case, ask “will our prospective customer see our information as relevant and valuable?” We recommend getting an third-party objective opinion since you are close to the information. Your content marketing strategy will require a lot of content, make sure that it’s the right content before you start.
Sign #2: A Compelling and Versatile Value Story
Content marketing is powered by compelling storytelling. The story has three important parts: the the situation, aggravating problem, and valuable solution. Your content will be telling this story in dozens of ways in several different mediums (i.e. blog, audio, video, illustrations).
Can you tell the story of your product in a compelling way to multiple audiences?
For example, the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau has asked us to help them use content marketing to tell the story of Detroit as “The Comeback City.” This story needs to be told in a relevant way to several different audiences including: families looking for a weekend activity, a young couple looking for a fun night out, or an executive needing a spot to hold their national convention.
Sign #3: Aligned Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is a tactic that achieves the goals outlined in your marketing strategy. Content Marketing is NOT a strategy. We see Content Marketing as a “force multiplier.” A force-multiplier enhances the effectiveness of other components. For marketing, Content marketing adds relevancy to the overall marketing message. Content Marketing also provides the distribution channels, social media, for expanding your marketing reach.
You can’t take advantage of content marketing until you have an aligned marketing strategy that is a logical extension of your organization’s corporate and product strategy. Build the marketing strategy first and content marketing tactics second.
Sign #4: Ongoing Customer Interaction
Your business needs day-to-day interaction with customers to inspire topics for your content production “machine.” We’ve found that the best content ideas come from listening to and answering customer questions. Many times we’ve taken questions and turned them into verbatim headlines for blog posts.
Look are your organization and identify who has ongoing contact with prospects and customers.
Your options could include:
- The sales team
- Customer service and call center representatives
- The receptionist
- Your site’s search engine logs. If you use Google Custom Search, review the queries used by visitors searching your website.
It’s difficult to create enough original content to fill a weekly content calendar without ongoing interaction with customers. It’s worth the time to create areas that encourage engagement.
- Encourage new subscribers to email you questions.
- Add a survey tab asking website visitors to leave questions or start a chat session.
- Field a reader survey to ask about specific reader challenges and needs.
Sign #5: Engaged and Patient Leadership
Your leadership team should understand the value of educating customers and establishing a credible voice in your industry. Content marketing is a medium to long-term strategy that requires patience and upfront investment. The return on investment will justify the investment, but it isn’t a quick silver bullet.
Look for signs of your leadership team’s commitment to transparency, education, and information sharing. These values will provide the foundation for patient and purposeful support for content marketing.
Sign #6: Content Marketing Budget
Effective no-cost marketing tricks are an illusion at best and a con at worst. Content marketing is a powerful tactic but it does require an investment. You will need a budget for graphic design, blog writing, editing, and publishing. This budget will need to be set aside and available for use.
It helps to understand how much is available to accurately negotiate fees and know what help is available for the month. A theoretical, or “as-needed” budget prevents any effective planning and slows down execution.
Sign #7: Assigned Team Member
Executing an effective content marketing plan requires time for:
- Brainstorming posts
- Writing and editing posts
- Uploading content
- Creating and scheduling social media updates
- Social media monitoring and engagement
And that’s just the start.
This is not a job for the business owner. There are too many moving parts that must be done right – every time – for an already time-starved business owner to execute. It almost always makes sense to hire or contract someone to own a part of the content creation plan. This means, you may need to delay deploying a strategy until you can pay someone part or full time.
A process-driven organization can do much of the work with 1 or 2 virtual assistants. If you have the budget, a remote employee or a part-time in-house asset will work. Retain an agency If content marketing is the focal point of your strategy.
We’ve found that successful content marketers separate strategy and execution, keeping core strategy duties in-house while outsourcing implementation. In this arrangement, a dedicated content management is critical.
We’ve created a Content Marketing Readiness Checklist to help you evaluate your organization’s readiness. Use the checklist to pinpoint any gaps in your infrastructure along with your strengths. The Content Marketing Readiness Checklist is available for free in the Content Toolbox. Register to access it here.
Already a Content Toolbox Member? Download the Content Marketing Readiness Checklist