In 2013 content marketing has finally progressed from a buzzword to a legitimate mainstream marketing strategy, and we can expect more such validation in 2014. If you're a brand thinking about investing in content marketing, don't fall for any of these content marketing misconceptions.
Myth 1: Content Marketing is Easy (Compared to Other Forms of Promotion)
Content marketing relies on the Know-Like-Trust factor, and as anyone who's ever been in any kind of relationship will attest, building trust is never easy. It takes a lifetime to build and a moment's carelessness to destroy.
While consumer relationships with brands may not always be this intense, building trust is usually an incremental process. Each piece of content you create adds another layer to the KLT pyramid.
In fact, advertising is much easier in the sense that campaigns are created, run their duration, and results are measured. In content marketing, though, you're essentially creating a lifetime campaign for however long your business will function and as such there's no end date, although there are plenty of milestones for measurement.
Trust, once lost, is much harder and painstaking to regain. Just ask British Petroleum.
On the flip side, content marketing proves again and again that companies who provide transparency and authenticity, both crucial factors for trust-building, may find a more forgiving consumer base when things go awry. Just ask Buffer.
No, content marketing isn't easy, but it is ever-so-rewarding!
Myth 2: Content Marketing Doesn't Take Much Time
"Lack of time" is cited as the top challenge facing B2B marketers, according to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends report. And it's true. Let's briefly go through some of the processes involved in content marketing.
- Content strategy development: This could include keyword analysis, market research, SEO, website audit, content audit, resources audit, and more.
- Constant content creation: This is time-intensive, thought-intensive and labor-intensive.
- Content distribution and promotion: This includes heavyweight time investments such as social media marketing, email marketing, and search marketing.
- Content performance measurement: This includes analyzing content marketing output against success metrics.
I don't know about you, but I'm not seeing how content marketing fits into a brand's shortcut strategy.
Myth 3: Content Marketing can be Automated – Set it and Forget it
Arising from the "we didn't realize content marketing would take so much time" myth is the sister myth "let's put this process on cruise control, yay!" Sure, there's plenty within content marketing that can be automated to a degree (repeat processes such as auto-responders, social monitoring and alerts, curation, and distribution), but many companies try to automate too much, too soon and in my opinion, the wrong stuff.
Some content marketing tasks which shouldn't be automated include:
- Content strategy.
- Social media strategy.
- Community management.
- Content creation.
As Jayson DeMers predicts about content marketing trends for 2014, "businesses will look for ways to automate their content marketing, and these efforts will fail."
But my all-time favorite automation rant is from Scott Stratten, who regularly posts a variation of this update on Twitter: "Automating your social media is like sending a mannequin to a networking event."
Myth 4: Content Marketing is Inexpensive
Jay Baer phrased it well when he wrote: "Social media and content marketing isn't inexpensive, it's just different expensive."
While expense is relative, many brand managers assume that content marketing will always be the cheaper alternative to other promotional methods, such as advertising or PR. While in general, a 30-second TV commercial during the Super Bowl could rack up millions compared to a hashtag promo contest on Twitter which could be done for free, comparing such promotional activities is weird. And wrong.
While technology has leveled the playing field in that both big and small brands can achieve results with content marketing, brands are investing widely different amounts depending on perceived value. For example, Orabrush surprisingly achieved great content marketing results with a $500 YouTube video while Neil Patel famously invests five-figure sums for QuickSprout's free educational video content.
Barring unexpected viral hits, most content marketing success will be realized over years of consistent brand building activities and should be budgeted for as such.
"B2B marketers allocate 30% of their budgets to content marketing, and 58% of marketers plan to increase content market spend over the next 12 months," according to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing study.
Myth 5: Content Marketing can be Handled by the Intern
When social media was still a thrill-seeker's term, there were a plethora of articles begging companies not to hand over social media marketing activities based on age. The same holds true of content marketing today. Companies believing that young and inexperienced hired hands can come in and "handle" content strategy and marketing have got another thing coming.
Content marketing is a discipline in its own right. It's got its sea legs and is here to stay. And it's attracting top talent from across industries: from journalists and reporters to create content, to analytics specialists to make sense of the data, to digital strategists to concoct tactical plans. In 2014, content marketing is expected to bring forth more specialized job descriptions and be taken seriously by companies still waiting at the shoreline.
Are there any content marketing misconceptions in your mind? Let's hear them in the comments!