You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.Oh, The Places You’ll Go! – Dr. Seuss
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
I know, this one seems obvious.
But is it really?
Over my career as editor, writer, content marketing, and community manager; I’ve felt like that guy in the photo — teetering on the edge of falling because doing any of those roles right is hard (those jobs aren’t special in that; doing most ANY job right is hard).
The idea of walking a tightrope is simple — I’m going to walk from this cliff top to that cliff top on this magnificently tiny bridge.
The doing part . . . not so easy.
Same goes in content marketing
There are tons of snake-oil marketers out there who will PROMISE RESULTS if you follow these “3 Simple Steps” to quadruple your leads and be the first result in a Google search engine result.
Every once in a while, some of this over-the-top advice is even good.
What’s difficult is knowing if that’s even good marketing for you? Is it the right keyword? Are you attracting the right leads? And, seriously, “3 Simple Steps” that’s going to “revolutionize your entire marketing strategy”?
Color me dubious.
Once you sort through the advice and decide that it’s good for your business and get into the weeds of doing, that’s where the real difficulty begins.
Truth: the IDEA of content marketing is simple:
create and share content that is entertaining and/or useful for your customers (and potential customers of course).
That’s it. That’s all there is.
The devil, as they say, is in the details. Or, as Dr. Seuss put it, “The streets are not marked” and most of the windows are “darked.”
Even the stuff that should be easy isn’t.
To succeed at content marketing (and business in general), you must focus on meeting the needs of your customers. Who actually does that over internal politics. Quick test — if your website looks like your internal product divisions, you aren’t focused on your customers.
And there’s a universe of difficulty in the words “create” and “share.”
Writing is difficult.
Deciding what to write is difficult.
Identifying where your customers hang out and then engaging with them there is difficult.
Creating calls to action that make people want to say “yes” to you is difficult.
How you share your content is difficult. Should you use email? (Hint: yes.) Do you need email workflows? A newsletter? What should you share on social media (don’t forget to share stuff that isn’t yours)? Are you sharing on the right social media sites? How do you grow your list? And that’s just the beginning of the difficult decisions.
I’m starting to feel like I’m flogging a dead horse so I’ll stop with the examples and end this short post with this:
Anyone who tells you content marketing is easy to do is lying to you (or clueless, you lose either way).Tweet
P.S.: All of life’s wisdom can be found in Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! — plus it rhymes! I’m always amazed when I reread it how good it is.
Need, er, help creating helpful content? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, reply below, or give me a call (or text) at 301-275-7496.
About the Cheeky A-Z Guide to Content Marketing.
There are groaning shelves of books and whitepapers you can read about content and inbound marketing. What’s missing from (some) of them is the stuff between the cracks. The dirty, nuts and bolts examples of things that can go wrong and the random things that can go wonderfully well. I decided to run down the alphabet a letter at a time and highlight personal lessons learned from creating content for 25 years and from applying those content creation lessons to content marketing over the past decade-ish. I hope you enjoy.