In a few weeks, I will be joining a world-class group of social media professionals at Social Media Marketing World 2015. Everyone there will be searching for the next best strategy, tactic, tool, or platform for their content marketing program. We will swap notes and bring back what we’ve learned.
The problem is content marketing isn’t new. There are 358 million pages listed on Google for “Content Marketing”. I along with the other speakers at Social Media Marketing World 2015 have spoken and written extensively about it.
Sure there are new tools popping up every day. It’s rare, however, to see new game-changing insights percolate up from the content marketing intelligentsia. Much like ‘online marketing’ in the the 90s, direct marketing in the 80s, and branding in the 60’s and 70’s, content marketing has moved from being an eyebrow raiser to just another strategy.
Why has content lost its luster?
In many categories, marketing teams understand content marketing. They don’t need convincing and for many, content management is routine modus operandi. Top competitors in many niches are locked in a content arms race with each business trying to one-up the other using content frequency type. iTunes, SlideShare, LinkedIn publishing, and Pinterest have the same appeal to marketers as The New World had for Columbus. New territory means fresh opportunities for more eyeballs, leads, and sales.
Five years ago, it was possible to sneak up and nab content marketing leadership in a category. Today, you are already too late.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is –
Execution is the Next Content Marketing Frontier
Your heart probably sank. Is content execution really the good news?
Can the day-to-day grind of creating, publishing, promoting, and optimizing content be good news?
Certainly because most businesses from the huge enterprise to the itty-bitty suck at content marketing execution.
We often see
- Weekly BUT poor or uneven quality
- Publish quality BUT rarely publish
- Publish on new platforms BUT can’t sustain their presence
- Distribute content on social media BUT consistently miss their core audience
All of the missteps are linked to poor execution and poor execution is killing the benefits of deploying a content marketing strategy.
How to Refocus on Content Execution
If I had to start my career all over, I would be a Division 1 college football coach. I’m obsessed with knowing the skills, competencies, and experience needed to mold a unit of 18-20 years olds into a championship team. Most nights I’m hunting for playbooks and team manuals looking for the secret sauce to winning teams.
Urban Meyer, Head Coach for The Ohio State Buckeyes, sums it up in three words “Embrace The Grind.” For Meyer, The Grind is the friction in the program that makes the each athlete and coach better. It’s the day to day work the forges champions.
For content execution, the Embracing The Grind is:
Breaking down the creation of blog posts into parts and relentlessly experimenting until you are publishing the best headlines, leads, body frameworks, and call to actions every time.
Listening to each podcast and separating the crap from the gold. The intro, script, sponsor mentions, topic, and outro are all candidates for meticulous scrutiny and improvement
Reviewing your posting schedule, analyzing your audience quality, tweaking each update, and mastering the success criteria for each platform.
Content Production (Infographics, Special Reports, eBooks)
Putting on your “adult pants” and judging each piece of content based on how it contributes to the marketing objective of generating revenue.
How quickly can you identify new opportunities, understand them, break them down into action steps, and deploy them? The longer it takes, the quicker your business dies. It sucks, but it’s the grind. Embrace it.
I recently watched “Whiplash”, a film about a young jazz drummer who suffers and grows under the tutelage of tyrannical, some say sadistic teacher. Whiplash is hard to watch, but its underlying point is unmistakable. High performers plus herculean expectations on their shoulders and embrace the process of attaining their goals.
I started Pushing Social 4 years ago this April with the goal of finding the best strategies and ruthlessly killing off the crap masquerading as thought leadership. I thought the job would be over within a two years. Not so. Content Marketing is here, but the winners understand that staying at the top requires pushing their content execution to the razor’s edge of excellence.
Are You A Content Execution Sissy?
I’ll make this short, but you are a content execution sissy if:
- Your first question starts with “How many” versus “How do”. For example, “How many words should a good blog post have” versus “How do I write the best blog post possible?” Or, How many social media platforms do we need to use versus How do I dominate LinkedIn?
- You focus on activity versus outcomes. I have a client that is relentless about outcomes. They want to know exactly what their investment in content marketing is delivering. They eat content execution sissy’s for breakfast. They don’t want to “be human” they want to “win”. They don’t care about the number of updates you make. They want to know how many people say and acted on ever tweet. They are not afraid of measurement and accountability. You shouldn’t be either.
- You still are talking about strategy and what will happen in the next 2,3,4,5 years
There’s a time for strategy and Blue Ocean thinking – Q4. Other than that, it’s “Go time.” Crack open Google Analytics and get back to execution. Content Marketing Sissy’s love talking about what next while ignoring their uneven performance today.
We’ve started a LinkedIn Group to dig into this and other topics. Head over there for some friendly sparring about Content Execution. Sissy’s need not visit. Don’t worry the unicorn and double rainbow group is always open for membership.