The Future of Content Marketing

Shweiki Media Printing Company teams up with Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Content Marketing Institute and author of Epic Content Marketing, to present a must-watch webinar educating viewers on the future of content marketing.

Nine out of ten businesses use content marketing in some way. Unfortunately, just 40 percent believe that their content marketing is effective. How many businesses have a content marketing strategy? Less than 30 percent. Content marketing is the idea that one is going to create valuable, compelling and relevant content, on a consistent basis, in order to attract and retain customers and create some kind of a behavior change.

Even though, content marketing, as an approach, has been around for hundreds of years, it is still very new for most organizations, whether they are small, medium or large scale businesses.

More and more companies are creating content, more content than ever before. It is great but this is also a cause for concern. More content does not necessarily mean better.  There is not a lot of thought being put into creating stories or building audiences. It is important to build an audience that knows, likes and trusts us. If a company can successfully build a target audience, it will be very beneficial to the business. The biggest problem in terms of content creation is that very few are actually creating a documented content strategy. Companies need to know who they are trying to target, what story they are trying to tell, and what the potential return looks like.

Audience Persona

Who is your audience persona or the group you are trying to target? In a lot of cases, companies tend to shoot first and aim later. Before the next tweet or blog post, take a step back and figure out what you are trying to do by telling a story that is different. Ask yourself, “Are we adding something that is truly different to our customers’ lives or jobs in some way?” Until marketers get to the point where they strive to create unique and different content, they will continue to struggle with content marketing.

There is plenty of content about a company’s products and services but there is not a lot of valuable information being created around the products and services without actually being specifically about them. Instead of solving customers’ problems and needs with the product, do it with content. For example, John Deer distributes a monthly magazine to subscribers all over the world helping farmers be more successful business owners. The John Deer tractor is not doing this, but people still associate with the brand name John Deer.

Today, consumers are in complete control of the content they see and can ignore any content, including yours, at will. When consumers are not forced to listen, how do you get their attention? You have to create content that is helpful to them so they want to come back for more.

If you are just getting into content marketing, the best place to start is with your current customer base. Create better customers from those that have already chosen to do business with you and are more likely to share your content. Also, you can get good content ideas by asking current customers questions about what they struggle with.

When finding your company’s audience persona, it is very important to know who the buyer is. Average B2B purchases have 7-9 individuals involved in the buying process. Any one of them can be a target for your content, but you have to make the decision on which one you will actually target. For example, with a content marketing approach toward a university, there are many different potential target audiences such as alumni, donors, teachers, students, parents, etc. A key mistake marketers often make is trying to target too many people at once. If you target to many different audiences, the company will not be successful. When trying to determine who a company should target, they should look at where there are problems and focus on the issues that can be fixed.

Most companies have audience personas already established. However, they create programs for 3-5 personas at the same time. It is impossible to be relevant to 5 different people simultaneously. For example, in publishing we target mechanical engineers. That does not mean we target mechanical engineers, plant managers and CFOs because that does not make any sense.

What’s Changing and Where Content Marketing Can Improve

Right now, most companies are dabbling in content marketing with a blog, YouTube channel, email newsletter, etc. They are doing a little bit of everything inconsistently because it is not a priority. It has become so cheap to distribute content that people are just doing it to do it without putting much thought into it. This is hurting marketers because they are looking at content marketing the wrong way.

The greatest and most successful media companies focus on one content type for a particular audience and consistently deliver it. They set expectations for content by promising consumers they will consistently get new content from them. For example, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, they put out a new blog post or upload a weekly YouTube video.

Maybe, it is not the best idea for your company to create content in every possible channel your customers are at. Instead, it would be more prudent to focus on something that is going to make an impact for a particular audience consistently over time. This is a great way to build a subscription base.

Companies that dabble in everything are probably not doing anything beneficial for their business. If it is not doing anything for your business then you probably should not be doing it. It is better to commit to something that will have an impact.  This can be hard to do when you think you have to have a Facebook page. In fact, 90% of those businesses with a Facebook page would be better off without it and instead, focus that attention to something else that will actually have an impact on the customers’ lives.

The whole point of a strategy is making a choice. Marketers need to learn how to say “no” to things because they cannot do everything.

Future of Content Marketing: Is There An Oversaturation of Content?

On the consumer side, there is no such thing as oversaturation because there has always been too much content to engage in. Because of this, consumers do not really see that there is a content overload because it is a daily part of their lives. Marketers believe there is an oversaturation of content because they are the ones creating it and it drives them crazy.

Every agency on the planet says they have some kind of content marketing plan or process. Today, bigger agencies are purchasing smaller agencies and others are consolidating.  There are also way too many technology companies crowded with content tools. My prediction is that in 2017, there will be far less content marketing technology companies than in 2016. This is a good thing for the industry because we are getting to a level of maturity where we have to start understanding what technology makes sense where. Most marketers currently do not leverage about 90% of the features provided by a marketing automation program. Marketers need to start utilizing more of this automation technology.

Doing it Yourself Vs. Hiring an Outside Source

Almost every company out there, has both internal and external creatives. There is no model that says content should be mostly outsource or insourced because both have proven to be effective. The main thing to remember is always keep the strategy internal.  Create the strategy that makes sense and then go down the list of what you have internally that makes the most sense from a content creation standpoint and what you lack. For example, if the strategy determines a blog is the best thing to do for the company but the company does not have any blog writers, then they will need to outsource writers. If I need a website built, do I have a developer?

The strategy has to be internal because no one knows your business better than you do.

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Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi founder of the Content Marketing Institute,
A content marketing evangelist and passionate about the color orange, Joe Pulizzi is one of the leading thought leaders behind the content marketing and social media movement.

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