For the past few years, marketers have extolled the benefits of content marketing. And, for good reason.
Thanks to the internet, businesses have the opportunity to talk directly to customers by publishing their own content instead of having to rely on a third party (such as a publication or media channel) to do so.
Because businesses have seen such success with content marketing, it has become the go-to tactic in the marketer’s toolkit.
As a result, now we’re in a place where content marketing has reached mass adoption, which makes it that much harder to stand out above the noise.
The content arms race
As many of my friends and colleagues have noted, we’ve now entered a veritable content arms race – whoever can produce the most (and best) content wins.
But, does that mean content marketing is no longer viable – especially for small-to-medium businesses?
It just means that we need to determine the best strategy that makes sense for our businesses.
Even though we as marketers talk about how to leverage content day in and day out, there are still plenty of industries and businesses that are slow to adopt this kind of approach.
For instance, while developing a marketing strategy for a client, I discovered that not ONE of the company’s competitors is producing any kind of digital content. One company did have a blog on their website, but there wasn’t a single blog post on it.
This says a couple of things – it could be that no one is blogging or producing content because it’s not an effective approach OR it may mean that this is a ripe opportunity for my client to dominate his local market by becoming the go-to resource for his industry.
What does all this mean?
For us, as marketers and business owners, we need to be careful about always leaning on content as the tactic du jour.
Sometimes, content marketing makes complete sense – especially in markets or industries where competitors aren’t doing it or where their content isn’t nearly up to snuff. While other times, it will be a futile effort to get heard above all of the noise – especially if the company is not prepared to spend the time or money to make it successful.
The trick is to find the places where your competitors are not. And, spend some time determining the best way to connect with your clients and prospects. You might find there are better alternatives that make more sense for your business.
Getting heard above the noise
But, if you decide that to pursue content marketing, how do you stand out?
Here are a few ideas:
- Create an experience. As Geoff Livingston pointed out last week, the best content marketing is an extension of the overall the customer experience. If your product or service sucks, you’ll have a tough time promoting your company through compelling content. Start with creating amazing experiences for your customers and your content efforts will be that much stronger.
- Look for unique channels. When you consider developing a content marketing strategy, you must conduct research to discover where your competitors are not. Although it may be easiest to develop a blog, perhaps there are channels that will be more effective (and the competition is less fierce), such as podcasts, videos, photos, music, whitepapers, etc.
- Get creative. Content that spread does a great job of educating or entertaining. Look for ways you can share your information differently and it will help you stand out. Maybe it’s cartoons. Maybe it’s videos. Or graphics. Or, perhaps it’s your writing style or how you explain the information. Whatever you do, dare to be different.
- Build a team. There’s no doubt that there’s a demand for quantity of content in addition to quality. To make that happen, it helps to build a team who can help you create content. Whether that’s internally – by pulling together employees who can lend their expertise – or externally – by bringing in writers or firms to help, having the right resources can make a big difference.
Content marketing is not dead. But, the competition is definitely getting fiercer and the game continues to change.
That’s why you must continue to innovate and explore new opportunities to connect with your target market. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting time on an effort that will get you nowhere.
What do you think? Is content marketing still viable? Or, is it time to abandon this approach for something else?
Image credit: Tim Letscher