In order to deliver value so others come on board with you for the journey, you have to be disciplined. To some this is never going to work.
Once upon a time everyone watched the same TV shows (24.35 million people watched an Only Fools and Horses episode in 1996), we all watched the same ads and we received our news from a handful of sources. We now live in a time where anyone can create content, for free and distribute globally.
A Turkish butcher can flamboyantly sprinkle salt on meat and achieve global fame
A social media star seeing how far he can take 54 million subscribers to a very dark place with anti Semitic controversial content (I’m talking about PewDiePie here).
The companies who are seeing results are those with a defined point of view and have the ability to deliver this on a consistent basis to a targeted audience. In his latest book, Known, Mark Schaefer highlights that people ‘became known through commitment, constancy and repeated practice.’
However, I have seen where it doesn’t work where a content driven, owned media approach will just not deliver a return. I am breaking this down into three areas focused on care, rhythm and knowledge. Within these pillars is where a host of factors reside.
When this three legged stool starts to become wobbly is when problems arise. When you start to become the opposite of what they represent, it is time to safely say that this approach is not going to work for you. A mud slinging exercise with no soul or purpose is never going to work.
Those companies where content marketing efforts will not work can be broken down into:
CARE – do you have ability to pay attention and challenge the marketplace you reside and the problems that you can solve for others, not on the products you sell. Does what you create matter to others?
RHYTHM – can you stand for something and deliver on an ongoing basis? Can you never skip leg day and become the mouthpiece Adonis for your industry? Can you create and come back again?
KNOWLEDGE – can you take your experiences, the facts and your opinion and shape this into a way to say something different? Can creating real value make not just a difference to your audience, but to you as well, in terms of being hungry and challenging how the world is shaping around you?
The failures and weaknesses can be found within these three walls. When a content marketing/owned media approach won’t work, is when you start to stumble within any of these three pillars.
Let’s take a closer look.
It’s my ball, I’ll do what I want with it – why start to look deeper when everything is just your opinion with no validation from anyone else? Life would be so much easier.
The Dropbox Business Blog centres their stories on others but with a focus on greater connectivity and creating collaboration networks. Whilst there is the occasion to bang the Dropbox drum (such as how Dropbox is helping scientists speed up the university research process), it all comes from a place of creating a deeper purpose to enable people to work together for more effective solutions.
Those companies who are one sided where the megaphone is pointing inwards (no depth, just a solitary voice), will eventually run out of steam. Have a read of my last article on why you can’t do all this on your own.
A small timeframe to commit to – the biggest change for businesses is to take that leap from ‘we’ll give it a go for a few months’ to one where there is a commitment. Why should you care about something when it is only a fleeting pledge?
This isn’t a five-month tour, it’s a Rolling Stones 50-year rolling thing to experience. The last three Rolling Stones tours grossed around $1 billion. This has come from continually saying ‘we’re in.’
The person who asked for FAQs or really limp content – this is content that doesn’t trigger anything. It doesn’t challenge and doesn’t come from the heart.
Why should someone spend time reading/watching/listening, when it comes from a place where it has been passed from one department to another to approve and stirs nothing. It also reflects poorly on your business if a message is consistently average where the focus is just to publish to have some meagre company presence.
No one ever worked in a dull industry, as long as there are buyers, there is a demand. Even Virgin made their safety video, something to watch, not staring at people throwing suitcases into a plane.
A change is as good as a rest, lets have a rest – to produce is one skill, to show up, continuously is another. When you start skipping beats, you lose momentum. Sending my weekly email on a Thursday morning, people are expecting this in their inbox. It becomes a routine, otherwise something is wrong (I once received three emails asking if I was ok when I sent an email late on a Thursday afternoon two years ago).
Before Lady Gaga became a household name, she was writing for other acts. She has composed hits for Britney Spears, New Kids On The Block and Pussycat Dolls. She persevered by writing music, not by having a big break on a talent show. It took writing for other people before she got a hit.
You’re going too heavy – this has never been about producing more, no matter what Hubspot says. On the one hand businesses are being told to publish 16+ blog posts per month. On the other hand, people are unsubscribing from email lists because they are receiving too many emails (according to MarketingSherpa). The preferable amount of emails to receive from a company is one per week, according to the research.
The chopping and changing is getting confusing – when you are constantly changing tact, it becomes confusing. One month you could be highlighting the problems customers have in your marketplace, the next you’re loving showing the photos from a networking event.
Imagine you own a restaurant and it is always busy. The reason people come back is because you can deliver great meals and there is a menu that people really love. This is the same with the themes of your content. There are rules for how everything is played out. If you are a vegetarian restaurant, why start adding the mighty meaty pizza?
Everything has to come back to the core space that you believe in. Have a read of the spark and the framework.
You have lost what it is you believe in – whatever you create, curate and distribute has to have a different angle from the rest of your industry. You can’t just jump in and think that just because it’s easier to start using Facebook Live that it is going to drive audience to you.
Only 40% of businesses in the 2017 Content Marketing In The UK survey by Content Marketing Institute, highlighted that they have a documented strategy that sets out a path to follow. A business has to look beyond collecting numbers and have meaning to others where there is a clear structure based on owning a space. By the way, publishing content is not a strategy.
You love SEO…a bit too much – it is still out there, the businesses that love the fact that they are writing for search engines and not a person. Have a look at this example from a homepage (below).
Can spot the key word they are rooting for?
When you become fixated with SEO, according to Mark Schaefer, ‘you become just another dog fighting over a bone. It’s a battle you’ll probably never win unless you are the biggest, meanest dog in your industry…forever.’ Doesn’t it feel better when there are familiar people who are willing and prepared to share your stories, rather than hoping that a stranger will amplify reach?
It just sits there…yawning – you can’t just fill the quota bucket of 16 articles (as HubSpot mentioned above), publish and stand back with a sense of achievement. Just because you have produced the B2B blog equivalent of 1984, doesn’t mean that people are going to magnetically be drawn to it.
You have to fight for your right to draw attention to it (and encourage interaction). In an article from February 2016, I highlighted that, ‘distribution plays a pivotal role in audience growth, not just the dogged pursuit of content creation.’ The biggest distribution for my business has been embracing email to the brim.
In Talking Content Marketing interview that looked at distribution, Brian Honigman highlighted that, ‘distribution channels really only work once you have something to distribute. Make things that connect, consistently put them out there and make friends with people that talk about it, and word will get out.’
When you approach with no care, rhythm and knowledge, the initial enthusiasm dies quicker than joining a Slack group.
Lets Round Up
Taking on board a content driven approach is one centred on building trust, awareness and being worthy for others to pay attention. Attention does not happen in bursts of paid exposure anymore. Once the pot runs dry, you are forgotten about. Businesses and people are impatient as they won’t invest in the long term to build familiarity, closeness and the trust of someone else.
There are enough of us to go round today. We are all fragmented in a world that is at our fingertips. The masses that once sat to watch Only Fools and Horses aren’t there anymore because there are too many choices.
The opportunity today is to find those people who care and you can find a rhythm. The knowledge is in abundance to soak up.