Content, blog content, and content marketing are the new buzzwords. Not long ago, the Internet was abuzz with talk of SEO and optimization strategies and plenty of self-assigned experts arose to help.
By C J Oakes
Now, everyone is all about SEM, or search engine marketing. This brings with it these new buzzwords and once again, the Internet is on fire with content marketing experts.
But what is the difference between someone using a buzzword and an expert who can help you grow your website? In other words, what is the difference between online failure and online success? In short, the difference lay in something professional marketers have known for decades: A marketing strategy is a must for any business marketing plan. Don’t have a plan?
“If you Fail to Plan You Plan to Fail”
The above words are attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the first millionaire in America. As any successful business professional can attest, his words are true. Yet, the Internet is full of people who are not professionals. They learn a little about the tricks for getting a website found, how to write without making serious grammatical errors, and before long they tout themselves as experts at building your website. Yet, they do not plan; they do not strategize.
A website is a marketing tool. To ignore this fact is to invite failure. As a marketing tool, it must be used properly or the effects will be disastrous. For instance, assume you have a writer working on your website and the writer knows how to get traffic from his or her personal social media connections. Great. There is growth. But is it strategic growth?
What happens when that writer stops writing for you? More importantly, what if that writer has friends who are not your target market? The traffic you drive is at best worthless and at worst, damaging. Your content (including name, brand, and logo) may get shared across platforms where your non-target market makes comments. These may be seen by your target market and cause harm to your brand. The lack of a clear marketing strategy almost always hurts a business. This is especially true on the Internet.
A Content Marketing Strategy is Part of a Marketing Plan
A content marketing strategy should be an integral part of your marketing plan. Because a website is a marketing tool, it should be part of your business marketing plan. Some businesses today use a separate marketing plan for their websites and one for their traditional business. This is a mistake. The two should be interwoven and there should be a clear marketing strategy that includes every aspect of the business, not just the online world.
What does a content marketing strategy do for your company?
As you may have guessed, a content marketing strategy provides direction. When your people meet to discuss ideas, these ideas can be considered in light of the marketing strategy. For instance, assume you are in real estate. One of your writers comes to you with an idea involving horses and barns and cattle. They would like to write a series of articles touting the advantages of country living to draw in potential clients.
Whether that idea is good or not will depend on several factors, all of which are contained in your content marketing plan and strategy. If your real estate firm only deals in major markets such as NYC or Shanghai, promoting open spaces may not be the best use of web pages. In fact, if no such properties are included in your portfolio, the content will harm rather than help your business.
This is a very simple example and surely no real estate agency would make such a mistake, but it does illustrate that with a marketing strategy, the firm can quickly disregard poor ideas and just as quickly focus on content that will grow the website.
Choosing Your Battles…Have a Content Marketing Strategy
Another thing a content marketing strategy does is gives the business a competitive edge because most will fail to plan. Did you know that more than 99% of all websites fail to get more than one visitor each month? That basically means that 99% of all websites are failing. A big reason for this is that the website lacks direction.
Just as a strategy provides a general on the battlefield with direction, a content marketing strategy provides direction to the owner of a website. Likewise, if the opposing general fails to have a strategy, it will be a quick battle. Failing to have a content marketing strategy will squarely place a website in the 99%.