As I’ve been working with my clients for some time now and growing my own business with a full and healthy pipeline of more opportunity, it’s evident what makes a successful content marketing strategy. Fortunately, most brands now see the value and the benefit of this thing called content marketing. Most brands like the idea of creating original, personalized content and reaching their audiences organically. Though while everyone is opting for more content creation, there is a big secret to successful content marketing.
In all honesty, there are a few secrets to successful content marketing, but perhaps one of the most underplayed is: Patience.
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Yes, patience. Patience because without it, you will never get to the point where all your wonderful work starts creating more opportunity for you. Patience because any good and sticky relationship takes time to develop and evolve. Patience because if it was easy, everyone would be successful. Patience because a true content marketing strategy takes a good six months to establish the right rhythm and cadence with your target audience; a good nine months before a steady stream of qualified potential clients come to your website to take action; a good year before your content marketing program is humming along with a solid foundation and the ability for you to add new and more engaging opportunities to connect and increase your value to your audience.
Here are the reasons why you need patience when it comes to content marketing and why it is worth all the effort:
A good content marketing strategy needs time to play out
Of course it does! First, it’s critical that you have a documented content marketing strategy. Even a bad strategy is better than no strategy at all, because at least then you know that it’s not working and can adjust. A solid content marketing strategy is going to include:
- why you need a content strategy
- your overall business goals and what, specifically, content marketing’s role will be in helping to support those goals
- deep and thoughtful audience discovery
- your brand story and voice guide to inform what types of content and how it will be communicated
- team roles and responsibilities – because a content program can take a village
- distribution channels – where your content and messages will go to start conversations
- and key performance indicators – how and what you will measure in order to track progress
Once you have all this documented and start executing, here is why patience is so important. You won’t see instant results. Just like after you plant flowers or grass seed, you won’t see it actively growing. You just leave your house one day and it has grown into exactly what you expected. Your content strategy works much in the same way: little by little seeds are planted and carefully nurtured over time until healthy and positive results abound.
Quality content isn’t quickly created
Another area you need patience in content marketing is in your ability to produce quality content. Quality content is more important than quantity and quality content that is created with your specific audience in mind takes time to:
- understand your audience: who they are, what they value, what their challenges are, their behaviors and how they acquire information
- understand your value to your audience: how you solve their problem and add value where they need it most
- craft content that serves a purpose – whether it’s to educate, entertain or simply to just connect
If you’re outsourcing content creation, make sure that you select a person or agency that takes the time to create custom content with you and is going to take the time to adopt your voice and involve you in the process. Because content creation is time consuming, this is a common area to delegate, but when you look at content like a conversation, you understand why your subject matter expertise and manner of speaking is so important to come across in your written content. If you hire a writer or content marketer, make yourself available for interviews or create audio files with your thoughts on the upcoming blog post topics. The more a writer hears you speak, the better they will be in authentically representing you.
Crafting a healthy supply of quality content requires patience, because there is no easy way to fast-track the creation process and, honestly, it wouldn’t be worth it. Instead, stick to your content plan, craft content as you have time and budget to do so, and allow yourself the freedom to patiently let your content program build up.
Valuable relationships aren’t forged in a day
As someone in a client-centric business, you probably know better than most that the best relationships take time to develop. Building trust with your clients happens one day at a time and you can’t demand it. Instead, you consistently show, over time with your actions, that you are trustworthy. Content marketing works the same exact way to build trust.
Because of technology and the way people search for information and research possible solutions, your online presence is an opportunity to meet your prospective clients where they are and add value to them immediately. When someone Google’s your name or firm, what shows up? Nothing? A complaint? An attractive and useful website? Valuable, original articles created by you? When someone Google’s a question or a problem you help your clients with, are you there? It takes time to establish trust between you and your audience and it takes time to even build trust with search engines.
In service-based industries, treat content creation like an extension of your client service. You are a trusted resource to your clients and content can help you start that same relationship with prospective clients as well. Patience is the key to helping you get there.
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Even as a content marketing strategist, it took my content marketing program a full year to build up and really work to grow my business. I had to adjust my content strategy, overcome a few setbacks, and exercise the same patience I encourage of you. It’s worth it. Content marketing, when done right, attracts the clients you want most, adds value to your client and prospective client relationships, and makes it possible for even more opportunities to find you.
Start small. Start big. Just be sure to start and have patience!
A great place to begin is better understanding the audience your content marketing program seeks to serve!