Where are you on your content marketing journey now?
Earlier this year we created a handy map as a guide for our Content Group. Our goal was to help people visualise the journey to content marketing success, pinpointing where they are now so the steps to move forward are clearer. We’ve pulled out that map many times over the last few months, created a short film about it, and presented it in talks both here and abroad. Thanks to these conversations our thinking has become more focused and we wanted to share this with you.
Whether you’ve just landed in the Land of Content, or have been working your way through it for years, we think you’ll recognise a few of these places. This guide outlines some of the pitfalls on the road to content marketing success, and points you for firmly in the direction of Bountiful Bay.
The Land of Content is a popular place
New people arrive here every day, landing hopefully in the Vale of Good Intentions. You start with all the enthusiasm of the convert – you’re going to share great content, make friends and influence people. And you join the crowds striking out towards Bountiful Bay.
Bountiful Bay is content marketing Nirvana.
All the leads you want come to you at Bountiful Bay. And they’re not just any old leads – they’re pre-sold leads from the clients you really want who know they want to work with you already. You’ve developed such a strong relationship through your content that you’re almost like old friends. So you can lie on the beach all day, chatting to people who already know, like and trust you, sipping pina coladas and watching the sun go down. Your content is out there 24/7, doing all the hard work for you, while you have time to enjoy the view and reap the rewards.
When you get to Bountiful Bay you have truly made it. It’s wonderful.
So that’s the dream. That’s the goal. But this is what often happens.
Beware the Port of Quick Wins
One of the first places people can fall is The Port of Quick Wins.
You get distracted by shiny things that promise the world but don’t deliver. From SEO keyword stuffing to cheap factory-farmed content, there are lots of ways you can get distracted from the valuable path. It’s easy to waste time money and motivation here. Very easy indeed.
In fact there’s a strong riptide that takes you from The Port of Quick Wins straight round to Shit Creek. And you really don’t want to be there.
Insider’s Tip. Avoid the Port of Quick Wins. There are no short cuts to content marketing glory.
But spending all your cash on things that don’t work isn’t the only way you can get lost in the Land of Content.
The Marshes of the Ill Prepared
You can sink fast in the Marshes of the Ill Prepared.
Your intentions are great, but your website’s not up to the job, or your blog looks rubbish. You might be writing great content and sharing it on social media, but it all falls apart once you get people back to the website. It doesn’t work, you can’t take people from your content to your sales offer, you don’t have any kind of email sign up so any leads you might be making just drift away again.
Nothing is joined up and connecting like it should.
Insider’s tip If you know what needs to change on your website, make it a priority to get it sorted. A good website is at the heart of content marketing success so it’s essential to get it right. If you just know it’s not working as it should, head for Pow Wow Plain and talk through your website options with an expert.
>> This might help: How to get your new website right
This is very common place that people get stuck, sometimes permanently. You’re all fired up to do content marketing, but it’s just not happening for one big insurmountable problem. You realise you don’t know what to say with your content. What content do your customers want? What content will help your business? You just can’t see the way forward. You’ve got no message. There’s no story to share.
Not knowing what to say is definitely a big blocker to finding content marketing success.
Insider’s tip Head for Pow Wow Plain and get your story and your content strategy straight. If you’re floundering in Foggy Bottom you’ll need to work on your strategy – and uncover your content sweet spot. Get that right and strike out again for Bountiful Bay.
>> This might help: Content strategy in 10 steps
If you’ve been grafting away on content by yourself in a business for years without much help then content marketing can feel like a lonely slog.
You can start to feel like no one is listening, and lose heart in the whole process. The best content marketing isn’t the sum of individual acts of brilliance; it’s a sustained team effort so spreading the load more widely won’t just make you feel better, it will improve your content too.
Insider’s tip Inspire people to join you on your journey. We’re big believers in motivating, not beating people over the head – collaboration is hard to pull out of the bag if it’s coerced. Organise a workshop to excite them about the content marketing opportunity and show them how they can get involved (we’d love to help). If you’re a freelancer then try buddying up with a friend and motivating each other to keep going. Or if you’re based in Bristol, come along to the Bristol Content Group and meet other content creators who are sharing your path.
>> This might help: Building team spirit – a content marketing culture
Pow Wow Plain
There are many hazards on the path through Content Land. You can take the hard road – grafting your way through, learn and refining as you go. Or you can strike out on a more surefire path. Head to Pow Wow Plain and take a bit of time to address your content strategy. This is where you do your hard thinking and where problems like not knowing what to say and how to say it get solved.
Insider’s tip An effective content strategy starts with objectives & ends with results. Answer the big questions – why, who, what, where, how, when? And make a plan to get you from A to B using the content on your website and beyond. Document your strategy and pin it to your wall. It’s so easy to get pulled off course when it comes to content creation. The secret is to know where you are heading, and to be intentional.
>> You’ll find a chapter dedicated to content strategy in the new edition of the Valuable Content Marketing book, plus a free workbook to capture your thinking here. And if you can get to Bristol, then join us around the campfire for a real content Pow Wow – check out our new Content Strategy Mastermind Groups.
Valuable content Nirvana is in your grasp, and it’ll make a huge difference to your business if you get this right.
The very best of luck on your travels through Content Land. We hope the map and thinking helps. Do let us know what else we can do to help you on your journey.
Sharon and Sonja