Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Create a strategy built for momentum and strength — or else you risk putting out content that just spins around, not getting anywhere. Justin Lambert explains.
We’ve all heard it before, but it bears repeating anyway: Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long-term strategy for slow and steady growth, relationship building and brand recognition, among other goals.
Smart marketers wanting to get the most out of content marketing will map out their strategies with the long view in mind. Plan to keep at it for the foreseeable future rather than considering it like any other 30-, 60- or 90-day advertising campaign that either does or does not earn back its cost in sales.
But, there’s a hidden danger in this long-term strategic view, and it comes down to simple human nature.
You are lazy
Human beings tend to be lazy. And that’s not always a bad thing — after all, many of the greatest inventions created by humankind have been designed and built in an effort to reduce the amount of work we need to do, and the result is increased production and efficiency, which benefits everyone.
But sometimes that tendency to want to save ourselves work and make things easier can trip us up. When it comes to a content marketing strategy, it makes sense to arrange a consistent, steady flow for content creation and distribution. But laziness can cause us to leave that editorial calendar alone after it’s been created.
What’s wrong with that?
Content marketing is most effective when it’s dynamic and agile — able to change quickly as new circumstances pop up and data sheds light on its effectiveness. So logically, if your editorial calendar and connected content creation and distribution schedules have been exactly the same for the last six or nine months, you’re not getting the most out of your content.
Think of content as a storm
I use this analogy in my book, “The Content Marketing Hurricane.” When a storm starts brewing out over the ocean, it gets very little — if any — attention. It could continue blowing wind, making waves, dropping rain… whatever it needs to do, for days or even weeks, and almost no one would hear about it.
But what happens when a storm that starts brewing over the ocean intensifies and starts moving toward land?
Suddenly, it gets more attention. It makes a name for itself. And, if it gets strong enough and close enough, it starts making people take action.
Your content should act the same way: slowly but surely building momentum over the long haul as it draws ever closer to the target audience you’re trying to reach. Rather than spinning off “in the middle of the ocean” with a constant supply of boring same-old content like you’ve been creating for the last year, hone your strategy and let it build energy and power.
Then, not only will it draw attention, but it will get results.
How do you do it?
Building a content marketing strategy that’s constantly growing and improving starts in the planning stages, but its real value comes during execution.
In the planning stages:
Build an editorial calendar of some sort. In the beginning, it may not need to be much more complicated than a handwritten list of topic ideas on a legal pad, but as your strategy grows and becomes more complex, you’ll likely move to an Excel spreadsheet or ideally a content platform specifically designed to aid in this process.
Use those tools wisely:
Break down your editorial calendar in such a way that you’re not just creating random, one-off blog posts and the occasional white paper. Instead, make sure every piece of content you create is used to its full potential. As this post explains in more detail, make sure you’re repurposing your content for other mediums and that it logically connects with everything else you’re creating.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that every blog post is going to be part of an ongoing series (although series posts work really well in some circumstances.) Rather, it means that no matter where new visitors arrive in your stream of content, they’ll feel at home moving around to any other portion of the stream.
For example, let’s say your overall topic of choice is compression apparel. Here’s a logically built list of topics that slowly builds momentum over time:
- What is compression wear?
- Why is compression wear beneficial for athletes?
- Why is compression wear beneficial for seniors?
- What kinds of compression wear are available?
- How do you choose the right kind of compression wear for you?
- How do you get the most out of the compression wear you have?
- How do you know when it’s time to replace your compression wear?
This is an overly simplistic example, of course, but you can see how these basic questions can carry a new visitor from knowing absolutely nothing about your topic to deciding to buy your product and then to becoming a repeat customer. You can attack these questions in a thousand ways, focusing on various keywords and target audiences, but the basic concepts will remain the same.
Keep the momentum going:
The key to keeping this strategy going is to make sure that every piece of content you create, whether it be a blog post, white paper, ebook or a series of emails, logically connects to other pieces of the puzzle. A simple example of this is that blog posts covering various aspects of the second question about compression wear for athletes may link back to the first question about what compression wear is in case new visitors haven’t read that information yet.
By interconnecting your content in this way and approaching each topic in multiple formats and from multiple angles, you create a powerful content strategy that builds on its own strength and power.