Whether you are a marketer yourself or even a business owner, you must know all about marketing and must be using it as well. But then you would also know that the overdose of marketing messaging across different communication channels is often proving to be an overkill for the prospects and customers. And I am not referring only to the hundreds of spam emails you need to delete regularly.
Marketing overkill is pervasive in every aspect of digital marketing and even traditional marketing. But then, you might turn around and ask how do I market my products and services then? Is there a better way than this? And I say, yes, there is. Let us read on.
The alternative that marketers, business owners, and everyone else around are embracing is called content marketing. Explained in a nice way, content marketing can be said to be a form of marketing without actually seeming to be doing marketing. The way this is done is by camouflaging marketing messaging within a piece of internet content that looks like anything but marketing.
You could be a blogger, a gadget guru, a food reviewer, a visual storyteller, a publisher, or any of these brave new professions, and within whatever you share with your consumers (readers) is a subtle messaging in order to market something. Content marketing does seem to be a nice way to get out of the mad rush of marketing messages, but it does come with its own set of challenges. Let us take a look at some of these challenges, and discuss how you can work around them.
Because content marketing is not a direct instance of talking about the brand or products being promoted, deciding on the right strategy could sometimes become difficult to put a finger on. You need to be sure where the content would appear, and how it will be promoted and distributed so that the content could be designed accordingly.
You also need to be very sure what the final goal of that content is. As a content marketer, you would do well to map all these questions at the start, so that the content can be developed accordingly.
In a traditional marketing team, the product is known and the target audience is known, and you also know what medium would be used for conveying the message. The marketing message would need to be developed keeping these three things in mind. But for content marketing, the content is not going to be about the product or service that is sought to be marketed. Therefore a greater effort needs to be put in for generating the right ideas for coming up with useful content in which the messaging can be couched.
A person who looks at an advertisement for a shoe knows that the pictures and text would be related to the shoe. But a content marketer has to keep coming up with fresh ideas every time, based on which he has to develop content that is interesting and useful and can hold the attention of the reader. Every time the content has to be different, but it also has to be attractive, which can sometimes prove to be a bit of a challenge. Focus groups within the content marketing team can help generate a pipeline of good subjects that can be used.
The biggest strength of the internet is that it has no boundaries. Anyone in any corner of the world can access a piece of content, and that person could be any demographic profile. Whatever the product being marketed is, the content marketing for that product might be consumed by any kind of audience, and so it must have an appeal to a broad base of consumers.
Those involved in content marketing often get into the habit of churning out content just for the sake of creating content. But the real power of any messaging lies in its context, and this is something that a content marketer must not only be aware of but also keep in mind while creating content. Even if the content is on an entirely different topic, an awareness of the industry and the company would help keep the content within the right context.
A traditional marketing effort would have the target of aligning all the product benefits and features into one single narration. But a content marketing piece might not have even a line speaking directly about the product features. This makes it important for the content marketer to be able to tell an interesting story. This ability to tell interesting stories would allow space for the marketer to weave in subtle messaging about the product or service being promoted. This is what the granny’s fables and bedtime stories of our childhood used to achieve so effortlessly.
We spoke just now about the ability to tell stories. The content marketer might put in place an attractive storyline which is planned to be shared to the viewer over a series of pieces. But then this flow could be interrupted by the introduction of a new brand variant, or some changes in the landscape of that particular industry (regulations, for example). This would need the content marketer to be able to resize the storyline accordingly.
A big challenge that a content marketer might face is that he or she would almost always be an outsider for the industry and the company which is being promoted. The reason is that the marketing is being done on behalf of someone else. The solution to this challenge is to behave as an industry insider would, by keeping track of the latest industry developments and competitor activities. This is possible by keeping a close watch on industry blogs and attending industry events.
In terms of manpower and in terms of time, content marketing faces a big challenge in arranging for enough resources at the right time. This is why most businesses get the work of content marketing done by an external agency. The challenge here is what I spoke of earlier, which is that the agency would be an outsider with not enough depth of industry knowledge.
The entry barriers to content marketing are pretty low. The content that you are thinking of creating might already have been written about by someone for months or years. When we juxtapose this situation with the continuously reducing attention spans of the audience, it really does pose a challenge. This has just one solution – to come up with even better content.
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