February 06 2015 11:05 AM
If content marketing is a stick, most marketers seem to have the wrong end of it...
What I mean is that there is a lot of talk out there – a lot of content in fact – that offers advice on how to do content marketing. Yet it almost always focuses on the formats – not the ACTUAL CONTENT.
Take for example the well-intentioned, beautifully-written and impeccably reasoned piece recently by Jesse Noyes at Kapost. Jesse lists the "6 Types Of Content B2B Marketers Cannot Thrive Without' – and goes on to list six different formats.
Those new to content marketing would do well to listen to Jesse because they probably need to know which types of assets they need to budget for and produce as part of their content marketing programme, and Jesse clearly knows his stuff.*
But my view is that the decision on format is almost irrelevant. It is a few percent of the effort you should be putting into content marketing. In fact it's 0%. You should probably do them all: webinars, blogs, email, infographics. Add in personalised mugs, cave painting and semaphore. It really doesn't matter.
What does make a difference is what you are saying and whether it is two crucial things:
1. Is it useful? Does it give them something that helps them do their job?
2. Is it interesting? Is it engaging enough to grab their attention and make them somehow think better of the people who produced it.
That's it I'm afraid. There's no more instruction I, or any other content marketer can offer via a blog post because I don't know your audience. I don't know what problems they face. I don't know what they expect from their products or suppliers. I don't know what your competitors are doing. And without that, any advice is almost worthless.
You might as well ask me for directions to somewhere and I tell you to check your tyre pressure and keep your hands on the wheel.
Of course you need to make decisions about the channels you use to promote your content. You need to give a little thought to whether you have video-friendly faces or seasoned writers in order to work out what kind of format is best for you. But it's really not a big deal, and you will almost certainly end up with exactly what your competitors are doing.
The real job is to get to know what your prospects and customers want and deliver something that your competitors can't come close to. You need to be more original than them. You need to be bolder than them. And that takes time and effort which shouldn't be wasted agonising over format types. Get on with the important stuff and go create.
* Please note this blog post is not a criticism of Jesse's article, in which he acknowledges that successful content "depends on your industry, the content consumption habits of your buyers, the complexity of your product or service". I simply use it as an illustration of the dangers of focusing on what I believe to be a minor consideration compared to job of creating truly original content, which many marketers fail to do.