The Inconvenient Truth About Content Marketing

According to HubSpot, content marketing generates THREE TIMES more leads than paid search advertising. Whether or not that is true, content marketing certainly establishes authority and credibility that paid advertising cannot match, and therefore could easily generate 3 times more sales than paid advertising. But one thing both paid advertising and content marketing have in common is the need for consistency. I’ve had customers try paid advertising, and give up after one month saying it doesn’t work, because they didn’t get any new sales from the ad. In a recent podcast, my guest Preston Rahn, talked about how he sometimes runs ads for a year just to build a following before he even starts to ask for a sale. The return on content marketing can be even longer – you must consistently be producing content on  a regular basis for an extended period of time before you build up the “know-like-trust” factor with your followers to where they look upon you as an authority and are willing to spend their money with you.

This naturally brings up some questions:

  • How long is an extended period of time?
  • How often must I be producing new content?
  • How can I reduce the amount of time I spend creating content?
  • Should I be contacting my list every time I create new content?
  • What platforms should I be creating this content on?
  • Is it really worth it?
  • If paid advertising also take a time commitment, is there anyway to speed up the process?

Since we are all stressed for time, these are valid questions.  I’ve been blogging now since 2007. That’s 12 years of writing a new article every single week. This does not count the thousands of images I’ve created and posted to social media sites or the hundreds of videos I’ve made or guests that I’ve interviewed on my podcast. No wonder I have enough material to write a new book at least once a year. And, on top of all that, I manage to create hundreds of ecommerce websites for my clients, teach classes at the college level, and produce a series of my own online courses. That’s a lot of content. Still, I don’t generate nearly as much content as some of my colleagues do. I have a friend who has created 500+ videos on his YouTube channel. He is a one person company who has been doing this for a little over 2 years. That is almost 1 video per day for each work day. To put that into perspective, Donald J. Trump tweets 10 times per day and has produced over 37,000 tweets.  I have friends and colleagues that have produced twice as many tweets than him! Think about that:

365 days per year x 10 years = 3,650 tweets. You would have to tweet more than 10 times per day, every day, for 10 years to create that much content.

According to Neil Patel, the top 3 content marketing challenges are:

  • 69% say they lack the time
  • 55% struggle with producing enough content, and
  • 47% with producing engaging content.

Yet most consumers (90%) find custom content valuable. I’d say it’s the reason they might very well buy from you instead of a competitor. If everyone of your competitors is selling similar items, and they are using generic product descriptions and photos, then writing your own stories explaining why a product is awesome and telling that story with your own photos will make you stand out.Ah, but the time commitment. As John Buscall said, “Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.”

Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign. ~John Buscall Click To Tweet

Consumers today are exposed to more online content than ever before, so it’s even more challenging to rise above the noise. And it’s only going to get worse. But remember, the goal of content marketing is to build a relationship. Let’s remember that as we try to answer the questions above and see how we can address those content marketing challenges.

How long is an extended period of time?

Create a 90 day goal. Then create another 90 day goal. Commit to creating content for at least 6 months. The truth is you will be doing this as long as you are in business, but if you make a 6 month commitment with two 90 day sets of goals, you may actually start to see results.

How often must I be producing new content?

I’ve written and spoken a lot about how sites like Facebook, News sites, YouTube, and even Amazon get lots of return visitors because the content on their site is constantly changing. You saw from the examples above that you need to produce a ton of content. In fact, depending upon the type of content you product, it might be multiple times per day. Perhaps it is daily, or maybe just weekly. But it is A LOT! That does not mean that every time you create a new piece of content that you must send out an email to your followers.

How can I reduce the amount of time I spend creating content?

The best way to create a lot of content is to simply be more efficient about how you create the content. And that usually involves a technique known as batching. Batching is when you do a lot of similar tasks all at the same time. For example, write all of your blog posts for the next month at one time, then simply schedule their release dates. I won’t even be near a computer when this post gets published, as I will be traveling. Do the same with image creation, podcast interviews or YouTube video creation. Simply take a day and create all your content for one month. Then you don’t have to worry about it for another 4 weeks. If you are interviewing other people to create your content, you may not be able to schedule all your interviews back to back, but you can certainly batch together the editing and production for a specified date and time. I like to create a log of what I am going to write about, so I don’t forget when new ideas come up, but then site down and create all the content from my ongoing notes at one time.  I may even have multiple blog posts in draft stage, and jot down a few ideas as I think of them, publishing information weeks later.

You can also reduce the amount of time spent creating content by building off of what others have already created. For example, when it comes to images, start by using free resources like Pexels, Pxhere, and Pixabay. You can use the images “as-is” (such as the ones I’ve used in this post), or you can modify them to make memes, collages, or as components to an infographic.

Another great time saver is to syndicate other people’s content – use an RSS aggregator to consume information and repost it. For example, take a look at http://feed.informer.com/ and build up your own source of information. Syndicating content shouldn’t be your only form of releasing information, but it can be great for social media posts, especially when combined with a sentence or two about your observations on a particular topic.

If you still don’t have time to create the content needed for your business, consider hiring someone to do it for you. Yes, it really is that important.

Should I be contacting my list every time I create new content?

The short answer is no – you will be producing enough content that your followers do not need to see all of it. But you should think of your followers much like dating someone, or trying to establish any type of relationship. If they never hear from you, or only get a Christmas card from you, you don’t really have much of a relationship with them. How often would you want to hear from your friends? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Use this as a guide in determining how frequently you should stay in touch with your customers.  As a general rule, I like to keep in front of people on a weekly basis – it seems like that is not too much, but it is frequent enough that people don’t forget who I am. And the best way to do this, for me, is to write a blog post, and let my systems automate the process of creating a newsletter from that content and send it out to my list. Create once, publish everywhere.

What platforms should I be creating this content on?

Start with your website. Pick one other, then automate everything else. As I said in the answer above, create once, publish everywhere (COPE). You want to be seen on as many places as possible on the internet, but that doesn’t mean you need to be active on every platform. some platforms work better than others depending upon you and your business. For example, you might decide to concentrate on Instagram, but use their built-in tools to automatically post to Facebook and Twitter. Ten you can use IFTTT.com (If this, then that) to also push you content to Pinterest and LinkedIn.

But the important thing is to start with your website. Your website is the one piece of real estate that you actually own. All social media platforms are just rented space. Always make sure that you are posting new content to your website.

Is it really worth it?

If you want to compete in today’s digital economy, you don’t really have a choice. Embrace the new way of doing business and start producing content. the more you create, the better you will get at it. And then yes, it will absolutely be worth it as you will really stand out from your competition.

If paid advertising also take a time commitment, is there anyway to speed up the process?

Actually, there is. Become a media star. You can do this by being a guest on other’s people’s platforms. Get yourself on TV or the radio as an expert in your industry. Write guest posts for other people’s blogs. Be a guest on their podcast. Getting media exposure can greatly speed up the process of gaining trust and recognition – much faster than either advertising or content creation. If you want to be a guest on someone else’s podcast, check out RadioGuestList.com. If you want to write guest posts for someone else’s blog, check out GuestPostArticles.com.

If you find yourself unable to get the type of media exposure you desire for your business, then create your own. Not just your own blog, podcast or YouTube channel, but your own event. It doesn’t have to be a live event – you can host a virtual summit and invite other influencers in your industry to present at it. this puts you on the same level as your guests, and they will help promote it, adding tons of credibility to you as an industry authority.

Finally, consider taking my online courses to help you build content. The first in the series is available on SkillShare or  Udemy.

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