I’m probably not supposed to do this, but I’m going to reveal content marketing’s “dirty secret:” Doing it well takes time.
A lot of time.
So much time, in fact, that no one could blame you for thinking “There must be a way to market my brand/product/service that doesn’t require so many hours of my life.”
And of course, there are.
You could buy an ad in a local newspaper to promote your store’s holiday sales (and you probably will, regardless of your devotion to content marketing) for a lot less time and effort than it would take to put together a series of blogs, Facebook posts and Tweets about the same sales. But would it have as powerful an impact? Would that ad be as kind to your cash flow as a free Facebook post? Most likely, the answer to both questions would be “no.”
What’s taking so long?
In terms of dollars, content marketing can cost a lot less cash than older modes of marketing.
For example, a single Brandpoint-distributed MAT release may cost a company roughly $5,000 to create and distribute (and we do most of the work for you, honestly). Depending on the subject category, that MAT could yield anywhere from 20 or so placements (average) to well over 100 in newspapers ranging from weekly shoppers to top 10 dailies. To purchase equivalent ad space would cost 100 times the cost of the MAT — or more.
As amazingly cheap as that sounds, content marketing can be even more cost effective when you lean heavily on free social media. Facebook doesn’t (yet) charge for your business to have a page where you can communicate with current and potential customers!
The price tag, of course, is far from the only cost of any marketing effort. In order to understand the true costs and ROI for any marketing tactic, you also have to consider the amount of time it requires to execute it well. And here’s where CM costs can add up, especially if you’re not versed in the finer points of creating and publishing quality content.
Time-consuming content marketing tasks can include (but certainly aren’t limited to):
- Generating topics/ideas for content.
- Deciding the best channels for your content.
- Researching the audience demographics of potential channels.
- Researching, writing and rewriting the content itself.
- Placing/distributing the content.
- Managing the workflow of your content.
More importantly, content marketing is time-consuming because it’s a long-term investment. Sure, some companies rocket to worldwide acclaim when they tweet or post something clever that goes viral. But most content marketing campaigns are more like a luxury yacht — beautifully formed and capable of great speed and power on the open seas, but slow to leave the slip and motor out of the marina.
Time to talk ROI
Of course, you’re not going to jump ship just because the yacht takes a while to make it to open seas. You’re going to stay on board, bide your time, and watch dry land slowly slip away, knowing that you’ll soon be standing on the bow doing your best Leo DiCaprio impression.
Content marketing is the time investment that can deliver ROI that makes you feel like the king — or queen — of the world. It can build your brand identity in ways other marketing forms just can’t. Sure, a TV commercial or print ad can be impactful for the duration of time it’s on the air or alive in a particular issue of a publication. But unless it’s really Super Bowl-ad brilliant, its impact will slowly fade. Content marketing sustains the impact by keeping your brand and its message in front of consumers through multiple trustworthy channels.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Check out this infographic on content marketing ROI (but please finish this blog first). Here are a few highlights:
- 90 percent of consumers say they find custom content useful.
- Using custom content creates an affinity between the company and the user in the minds of 78 percent of consumers.
- Reading content marketing makes 70 percent of consumers feel closer to a company.
Just how much time are we talking here?
This is a tough question, and it’s one that content creation and management companies like Brandpoint wrestle with endlessly. Just how long should it take to write and post a blog? Issue a tweet? Produce and distribute a MAT release? Get a great video live on YouTube?
There’s no single, easy answer. Much will depend on the expertise of the people performing your content marketing, the clarity of your CM plan, the type of content marketing tactics you employ, your understanding of your target audience and the technology tools you use in your CM campaigns.
Forget everything we just said
Even though content marketing is well worth the time investment, it still makes sense to take actions that can reduce the time costs. Certain tactics can streamline the process of producing and disseminating quality content, including:
- Serialize content — You have a great idea for the topic of your next content marketing piece. If it’s that great, why not turn it into a series? Serializing content such as blogs or tweets reduces time spent generating new topic ideas, and allows you to delve more deeply into subject matter. Plus, it can help build excitement around your brand as eager readers await the next installment of the serial.
- Q&A — Customers have questions and you have answers. Content that connects your answers with your interested customers is always a win. Whether you’re using a MAT release to explain how your new skincare product fits into readers’ overall health regimen or tweeting about your store’s holiday hours, content that answers questions truly gives consumers “news they can use.”
- Tie into current events — Did something in the news catch your eye and inspire you? Is it relevant to your customers? Commentary on current events can be a great way to connect with consumers and make your content feel relevant and timely. Check out our blog on caution and current events in content marketing.
- Repurpose content — If an idea was a winner last year, might it be a hit for you again this year? Business is often cyclical in nature and content marketing can be too. There’s no shame in taking something you did before and giving it a new spin or fresh information. Just be wary when repurposing content that you didn’t originally generate. Take steps to avoid plagiarism in your content marketing.
- Look for information and inspiration online — From the Content Marketing Institute to about a bazillion blogs, including Brandpoint’s, you can find plenty of information and inspiration about content marketing online. Get topic ideas, learn about emerging channels and delve into best practices with just a few Google searches and mouse clicks.
- Use a content management platform —BrandpointHUB can help you keep track of all your efforts, monitor progress, assess results and evaluate ROI.
Finally, a word about hiring a professional. Sometimes, the most time- and cost-effective way to manage your content marketing is to hire a professional to do it. Tooting my own horn and those of my colleagues, the content marketing pros at Brandpoint have over a hundred years combined experience in the field (please don’t ask me how many years exactly because I’m a writer not a numbers person). Chances are good that with a modest investment of time from you, we can create your content far more quickly than you could on your own.