Bad content marketing is worse than none

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Something is happening in German marketing departments! More and more companies are realizing that marketing doesn't work without good content. That you can no longer win a flower pot with flat advertising phrases - especially not the attention of customers. Useful content is needed. Content that starts with the needs and questions of the target group, builds trust and helps the customer to make their purchase decision.

So now also dedicate yourself medium-sized companies reinforces content marketing. You hire an agency or hire a content manager, content marketing director, marketing editor or similar. Or - and this is especially the case with smaller companies - they delight their previous PR and / or marketing manager with the new task. He also takes care of the bit of content marketing on the side. Or is it not?

This is the question here: Can you do content marketing as a lone warrior? Just hire someone and tick off the topic? What resources are really needed for content marketing? And how should you go about it if you neither a team nor a lot of budget Has?

A battle on many fronts

The term “lone fighter” already suggests that it is not easy for anyone who is solely responsible for content marketing in their company - they have to “fight”. And on different fronts at the same time.

First there is the internal persuasion: He has to convince superiors and colleagues that what he is doing is right and important. And that for real results, the focus must not be on product features, but on customer benefit. That sounds like a simple task, but it is often the crux of the matter in small and medium-sized B2B companies, where sales are usually in charge. Because here marketing and sales seldom follow the same line. And that is the greatest challenge for 90 percent of all marketing managers in order to achieve their marketing goals, according to a study by Gleanster and Act-On Software. Both sides need to rethink this: Sales have to accept that nowadays the customer decides when and where he wants to contact the company. And that he has to work together with marketing for a uniform customer experience. Marketing, on the other hand, can benefit from the customer knowledge of the sales departmentto develop content that benefits everyone. To do this, everyone has to pull together. After all, content marketing is not a campaign, but a commitment.

To get that clear, you have to do a lot of persuasion. In sales, but also with your superiors to loosen up your budget for your content marketing. Because you will need that, as we will see in a moment.

Help, where is my army ?!

If the battle for the budget and the goodwill of the superiors is won, the content marketer fights on a second front: the So-much-to-do-so-few-resource-front. Because the mountain of tasks that stands before him is immense: Develop strategy, define personas, plan topics, write content, organize webinars, create and send newsletters, maintain websites, feed social media channels and again and again: exchange internally, vote and vote again. It can quickly happen that you tinker with a piece of content for several weeks or even months before it sees the light of day. Or worse: before it is discarded again. This is particularly annoying and has little to do with economic activity.

It takes three, baby!

What tasks a Content marketing manager in the company Robert Weller nicely summarized what he is responsible for and what skills he has to bring with him. This is an impressive list of to-do items that one can hardly manage on their own. Melissa Lafsky assumes that the company needs at least three people who each take on one of the three main areas of content marketing:

1. Content strategy: As a basis for all activities, goals, target persons, messages, procedures, KPIs, etc. must be defined and continuously adapted.
2. Content implementation: This is about editorial planning as well as the creation, publication and marketing of the content.
3. Content integration: This means the coordinating and mediating function that you take on to coordinate with other teams in the company, develop content ideas together and ensure that everyone is informed about your activities and goals and supports them.

The second area can - depending on the size of the company and your own ambitions - be spread over even more shoulders: An editor takes care of the content creation, a graphic artist creates the content visually, a social media manager is responsible for distribution. So that would the optimal content team should include at least five peopleto ensure a continuous content workflow. As I said: "optimal". Because in practice this is not feasible for very few small and medium-sized companies, especially if they are freshly entering content marketing. Then the lone fighter is everything in one person.

Alone on the wide hallway - that's how you can still do it

Should you find yourself in this role, your content marketing efforts are certainly not doomed to failure, as Lafsky prophesies in her post. We see this more optimistically and find: You can also be successful as a lone fighter. However, only if you pay attention to two things:

First: You use your limited resources intelligently. (Tips on this in a moment!)

Secondly: You get external support.

Because without Help from experts it won't work. Without additional capacities one of the above mentioned areas of responsibility will automatically be neglected and you will not be able to use the enormous potential that content marketing offers. It is also financially worthwhile to get external help on board, for example for content creation. You may incur costs as a result, but these are usually lower than the "opportunity costs": those costs that arise because you cannot use your time and skills for other tasks.

Tips for the one-man content marketing team

So content marketing needs resources. A small, internal content team in which different people are responsible for strategy, implementation and integration is ideal. If you don't have such a team (maybe because your company has only just got into the topic) and have to "fight" on your own, here are a few tips on how you can approach the matter:

1. Bring sales and management to your side!

Include sales in your activities right from the start, for example when defining personas and at regular editorial meetings. Make it clear to him that your content also supports sales goals and that he can, for example, use how-to videos in customer meetings. So he will be happy to support you in your activities. As arguments for talking to the budget manager, have statistics and case studies ready to show that content marketing is bringing in leads and customers. Carsten Rossi has put together some helpful arguments in his blog.

2. Listen to your target groups!

Your target people know what they want. They are well informed and give preference to those companies that offer them "added value". Find out what motivates your customers before you get into content production: Ask your colleagues from sales or customer service, call a good customer, or use the social networks to enter into a dialogue and learn more about them to experience. In this way you avoid investing a lot of time in topics that nobody is interested in.

3. Start small!

Concentrate on smaller pieces of content at the beginning and develop your content according to the lean principle. For example, create a few short posts for your blog or social networks and watch how they are received by your target groups. This way you can find out with little risk whether your topics are really relevant. In the next step, you can then develop larger pieces of content. This is how you use money, time and staff intelligently to create content that hits the mark.

The same applies to your distribution channels: initially limit yourself to a few platforms that are particularly important for the target group in order to distribute your content. Here you gain experience before you venture into new territory.

By the way: There is no clear answer to the question of whether “longform” or “shortform” is the method of choice for content. That depends, among other things, on your audience and your goals. The articles by Rob Marsh and Stefan Schütz here on Zielbar are worth reading on this topic.

4. Produce less, market more!

Often companies produce great content, but the target audience doesn't know about it. The reason: The content is not marketed sufficiently. According to a study by Ligatus, three quarters of all companies only publish their content in their own channels such as websites or blogs - and thus waste a lot of potential. Hence our tip: It is better to produce less, promote it optimally. Depending on the target, social networks, but also paid channels and “offline media” such as sales pitch, are suitable for marketing.

5. Use your content ideas multiple times!

If you only have limited resources, it is particularly important that you use and display your content efficiently. A single topic can be implemented in different content formats, e.g. B. as a blog post or series, webinar, podcast, slide share presentation, etc. Preparing a content idea in different ways also makes sense because the possibilities for use and dissemination are different. A video placed on YouTube that is also marketed via paid media, for example, reaches a much larger audience than, for example, an article that is only published on its own blog. Therefore, you should vary as much as possible when staging content and reassemble individual pieces of content again and again according to the modular principle.

6. Get external help!

As a one-man content marketer, you should always keep an eye on the big picture: which topics and formats are used for whom, which content is played when and where, and what is achieved with it. You create the plan, coordinate the implementation and you are the "integrator" who informs, motivates and holds all teams together. In order to be able to concentrate on it and not to get bogged down with little things, you should leave the operative doing to others if possible. In this way, parts of the content creation and distribution can easily be outsourced to agencies or freelancers. Of course, an appropriate budget is necessary for this. But with the arguments already mentioned, you will surely convince your boss.

7. Automate processes where possible!

With standardized workflows and the right technologies, you can save a lot of time and money. Lone fighters and small teams in particular can benefit from automating individual processes. This is often useful when distributing content via social media and in email marketing. But be careful: content marketing is far from running by itself! Define target groups, develop topics, create content and templates, plan distribution, measure results, etc. is still on your agenda. And the personal dialogue with potential customers cannot and should not be carried out by bots!

Doing the whole #contentMarketing as a lone fighter? That's how it works! TWEET

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you are the lonely one-man show or the content marketing director in your company: It is important that you use your resources intelligently and - where possible - get outside support. This way, you don't get bogged down in operational odds and ends and you can better perform your actual role as a manager and integrator of various disciplines. For professional content marketing, a great many different skills are required that one cannot cover with the best will in the world. It takes resources - both internally and externally.

Article picture: Martin Mummel / GRVTY

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