Music, like marketing, pushes society forward. Both industries tap into trends and constantly redefine consumer expectations, and sometimes it’s difficult for businesses (and musicians) to stay relevant in the churn.
The best marketing, like the best music, withstands the test of time. The classics stand out because the respective landscapes are littered with cheap, hollow imitations. You know effective content marketing immediately upon consuming it, just as you know a certified jam when you hear one.
So what does it take to create a content smash? How can you make sure you're creating content for your target audience? Let’s look no further than the greatest musical genre — ’90s R&B, of course — for inspiration. Many factors play into a successful formula, from talent and timing to research and rhyming. Well, technically, rhyming is optional. So are sunglasses. But dedicating the proper amount of time to devising a coherent strategy is not.
That’s where many companies are unintentionally tone-deaf. Despite best intentions, content marketing plans aren’t fully fleshed out and don’t get the desired results. You may internally commit to a weekly blog post or a biweekly email drip campaign and delegate a slew of subject matter experts, but keeping up the proper cadence is tough.
It might take six weeks or six months, but creativity has a tendency to dry up. Long-term viability is questioned. Panic sets in. The endeavor is aborted. It happens within marketing departments at well-intentioned companies every single day. No diggity, no doubt.
Thankfully, there is an easier way. The most sensical solution — surprise! — is partnering with a dedicated content marketing agency whose sole purpose is to crank out the hits on your behalf. Where would Janet Jackson be without Jimmy Jam? Every great talent needs a team of professionals working behind the scenes to truly make it work. It’s the same with content creation. To paraphrase one of Janet and Jimmy’s most iconic hits, that’s the way thought leadership goes.
The hurdles a marketing department needs to clear in pursuit of content creation are many. For one, you need to identify the right people and determine whether they’ll contribute on a consistent basis. Beyond that, what do the editing and approval processes look like?
You also need to strategize around your industry’s target audiences and your company’s unique goals. What information do consumers need from you? Are you driving traffic to a resourceless website? How are you planning to follow up on the leads you get?
More than anything, high-quality content takes time. The biggest misconception about content marketing is that it’s easy. Don’t get it twisted; it isn’t. Everyone sings like Keith Sweat when the car windows are rolled up. When you’re holding a microphone onstage and everyone is listening, however, who really sounds like Keith? Nobody.
Marketers similarly need a realistic assessment of their capabilities. You may generate great insights but lack the strategy to effectively share the wisdom. You may not know all the available channels and publications to reach the desired audiences — nor should you. That’s a tricky landscape that changes all the time. Let your content partner worry about those details.
If you are set on giving content marketing a concerted effort in-house, there are several factors to focus on. Influence & Co. has partnered with hundreds of clients to produce choreographed content that gets results. This is how we do it:
Go through the company lineup and find the stars — those with expertise to share and the willingness to perform. This can be anyone at the company, not necessarily a decision maker. Maybe your subject matter expert is your CFO, but how do you actually maximize her involvement in content creation? Being realistic about the team’s abilities and how to let that expertise shine is a crucial part of the process. Determine whether you have enough long-range firepower to make the effort worthwhile.
It’s wise to devise an efficient knowledge-sharing procedure. Brainstorm ways to glean valuable information from your thought leaders. What’s most effective and least cumbersome? You can set up regular face-to-face interviews to construct blog posts and guest-contributed articles, or you can isolate a dedicated writer and have her send an email of questions to the subject matter expert. Whatever you do, be colorblind; don’t be so shallow.
Best practice is to plan your topic themes and your media placements at least three months ahead, with larger yearly goals in mind. Identifying deadlines is a crucial step to adhering to them. Once you start producing deliverables, you can archive those pieces in a resource library that your customers can then access at will. It feels good to reach this milestone!
The task is not complete once a guest-contributed article, blog post, or whitepaper is published. Twenty-five years ago, musical artists knew their songs were nothing unless they were heard. Radio and video channels were the only platforms to spread the music. Today, there are dozens — and the same goes for marketing. Share your content on social media, send it to leads in your sales process, and use it to fuel your email marketing efforts. Creating content is important, but getting people to listen ultimately determines success.
Knowing where you are going with your content efforts is important, as is having a plan for following through with your goals. If your content’s purpose is to work people down the sales funnel, have a strong system in place for closing those leads. If you are aiming for brand awareness, have a way to track the reach of your content pieces and follow up with all interested parties. Content marketing isn’t really a road that ends, anyway; it’s more like a cul-de-sac that you circle around.
Perhaps you’ve attempted content marketing before and it was too complicated to complete. Or you’re working futilely on a plan now and you feel like you’re never gonna get it. Don’t be afraid to partner up with a marketing agency (ahem) that can shoulder the load while you focus on other areas of the business.
Let a content marketing agency like Influence & Co. take your expertise and pump up the volume. If you want content that moves you, just throw your hands in the air. And wave ’em like you just don’t care! And if you like making hits with all your content, somebody scream “Oh yeah!”
This blog post was co-written by my wonderful team: Kevin Carlson, Kyle Kelley, and Katie Doherty.
I'm a senior account strategist at Influence & Co. I really enjoy working with our clients to see their knowledge and passion come to life in content. I am a lover of good books, delicious food, perfectly aged bourbon, Kentucky basketball, and Ryan Gosling.