Everyone knows the story of the Three Little Pigs who set off into the world to build homes of their own. The first little pig built a house made of straw, the second of sticks and the third of bricks. The effort and materials each pig used to build their homes affected the outcome – but only one little pig took a long-term approach and was able to outsmart the big bad wolf.
So, what does this much-loved children’s fable have to do with content marketing?
Effective content marketing is similar to the approach taken by the third little pig – it’s slower, it’s strategic, and it concentrates on building a foundation based on the needs of your audience.
Over time, the investment in time, effort and materials have myriad benefits for organisations big and small that think about content as an asset. I’ll tell you why in a second, but first let’s have a quick chat about the other two little pigs – I mean marketers.
Campaigns are like houses of straw and sticks
Just like the first and second little pigs who built their houses from straw and sticks, a campaign-led approach is a quick-fix solution. These marketers tend to focus on the short-term, spending budgets on advertising campaigns. Why not? It’s worked for them in the past.
When they do create content, it’s disparate: some to distribute through social channels, or on the company website or in an ad. It’s usually centred around how awesome their own products and services are. Features and platitudes are nice, but customers don’t really care. They simply want to know what’s in it for them.
And here’s what your boss – some might call him or her the ‘big bad wolf’ – is going to want to know: how do you measure the impact of your campaign over a short burst? It’s not easy. But the good news is, as marketing becomes increasingly data driven, tracking how a campaign performed through content and measuring ROI are becoming part of every savvy marketer’s toolkit. It’s essential to staying one step ahead.
Unlike campaigns, content marketing is a longer play. It creates engaging content to give your audience the useful or entertaining information it wants when they come looking. It’s about publishing consistently and frequently. And done properly – integrated with the right distribution strategy – it allows you to measure your content through the funnel.
Where does it go wrong? Not enough marketers (or their organisations) give content the time, resources or budget it needs to really start working. We’re not denying it’s hard work – in fact 54 per cent of Australian marketers believe that consistently producing content is one of their top five challenges – but the benefits of creating valuable, useful content are numerous.
We’re talking about an extremely effective long-term program that helps brands and businesses create authentic, useful and ongoing experiences for audiences through the development of engaging content. Think of it as the foundation of your marketing activity: it’s the mortar that links campaigns, customers and data, and ultimately drives results.
Content marketing is a house of bricks
The story of the third little pig is a little different from his brothers. While they chose a speedier route, he took his time and built a home with a solid structural base.
Marketers who put content at the heart of their marketing activities do the same.
They start with a strong foundation of evidence and research and draw up a plan first – that’s your documented content marketing strategy. They analyse the needs of the audience and create content pillars that make sense to the brand’s business objectives. They build an asset.
Then they give it time. Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says it takes “an average of 15 to 17 months of consistent content creation and distribution to reach monetization (or results).”
That’s a long time in marketing – especially when you may have a big bad wolf breathing down your neck. But some of the world’s biggest brands – Coca-Cola, Red Bull, Amex – have taken that exact approach. They plan out content for the long-term gains it brings.
Piggy tales aside, content marketing is an extremely effective long-term program helping brands and businesses create utility and great experiences for audiences through the development of engaging content.
It’s not a quick-fix solution. Marketers who approach it in this way are likely to be burnt – just like the big bad wolf after sliding down the third little pig’s chimney.
On the flip side, those marketers that choose to think strategically about what they want their content to achieve, and have the patience to follow through, are the ones who will (likely) live happily ever after.
The benefits of creating valuable, useful content are numerous.
Want to read why and pick up some tools? Check out the King Content blog for more insights.