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From the Trenches

Why You’re Afraid of Content Marketing

Mike Sweeney | September 9, 2010

At Right Source Marketing, we’re immersed in content marketing on a daily basis.  We write about it, we execute it on behalf of clients, we execute it for our own firm, we talk about it at seminars, and unfortunately we even dream about it.   No nightmares yet, just dreams of a world where companies recognize the value of quality content – distributed at the right time, in the right places, to the right people.

Ok, maybe that’s a little dramatic.

Given our heavy focus on content marketing, we were thrilled about four months back to run into a company that was developing a content marketing product, and wanted to use – no surprise here – content marketing to help launch and grow the product.  This past Wednesday marked the official launch of Informous, a new B2B marketing platform that aggregates industry-specific product content in one, easy to search place.  Not only is the entire concept designed to help product marketers reach qualified buyers by leveraging existing sales and marketing content, but Informous is eating its own dog food.  There was no shortage of content at launch – a press release, a blog post, a video, an email, directory listings….and this is just the beginning.

Unfortunately, the Informous team is in the minority.  Too many individuals – executives, marketers and non-marketers, small business owners – are afraid of content marketing, and here’s where that fear comes from:

1) You think content marketing is hard.

It is.  There are no magic bullets.  This isn’t placing an ad in a print magazine.  This isn’t making a cold call.  This isn’t tweeting about whatever comes to mind.  Content marketing – done right – is hard.

2) You don’t understand what content marketing really is.

I don’t even think most marketers could provide a definition of content marketing, so stop sweating this one.  As I have discussed in previous posts, content marketing is not a new concept.  It’s just done differently in this day and age.

3) You’re not paying enough attention to your actual target customers and their needs during the sales process.

If you were, you’d understand that – for the most part – they are tired of the lack of control they used to have in the buying process.  The smart ones recognize that they now control the process, and that those companies who provide the most relevant, solution-centric, customized content (and not just the most polished salesperson) will stand out from the others.

4) Your company remains stuck in a sales-focused culture, instead of a culture in which marketing and sales share the burden of revenue creation.

Companies can’t operate without revenue, so when times are tough, many companies shift into “all we care about is sales” mode.  In theory, this makes sense.  In practice, this never works.  Do I need to send you doubters the stats that come out during every recession about brands that became household names because they chose to focus on sales and marketing, and didn’t just go out and hire as many salespeople as possible?

5) You don’t have the right leadership in place, nor the right talent to execute a content marketing strategy.

Two big problems, both solvable.  If your marketing leadership does not embrace content marketing, you have the wrong leadership.  Sure, that’s a blanket statement, but content marketing should be a line item for every company, regardless of whether you are B2B, B2C, big, small or in between.

On the talent side, if you don’t have it, you can acquire it, or you can work with external firms.  While you won’t find any shortage of folks willing to take on content marketing projects, you will find a shortage of individuals and firms that know how to plan and build a comprehensive content marketing strategy.

We’re beginning to talk content marketing even more seriously than we have in the past, as we see it as one of the largest growth areas for marketers over the next 3-5 years (who can look much further than that with any certainty, anyway?).  One of the reasons we’re hiring the types of folks that we’re hiring is that we’re enhancing our content marketing offering to address a gaping hole in the market.  It will help companies get over these fears, and prove that a well-executed content marketing program is irreplaceable.

Stay tuned, and until then, start treating your content as a marketing vehicle, and not like a piece of inventory that sits on a shelf.

Related Resources

About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.