I’m frequently approached by people who are interested in my services but are not yet ready to get started.
Services like content marketing and social media marketing are in very high demand at the moment. Every business knows they need it, but most do not have the necessary time, money, or resources to do it well. And, that’s why they approach outside consultants like me for help. When an inquiry doesn’t lead to anything immediate or a lead turns out to be unqualified, I always try to provide some value by helping them figure out what they’re up to when it comes to marketing and advising them about what they should do next. They may not be ready to work with me yet, but I can give them tips that will help them get to that point.
In marketing, most people will claim that you need their services and that you need them right away. PR will swear you need PR. PPC advertisers will swear you need PPC advertising. Email marketers will swear you need email marketing. And most people who create branded content will tell you that your business must hire them to create and implement content marketing campaigns.
I disagree. Other marketers might hate my guts for saying this, but not every business is ready for branding or content marketing. While I’d love to make the sale, I don’t want it to be at someone else’s expense, if it won’t yield them significant returns. Content marketing is a hefty investment of time, money, and resources. A business that isn’t ready for it can make costly mistakes.
What is content marketing and who is it for?
Content marketing helps you build a brand. Branding and content marketing is not a short term strategy that starts producing sales right away. It’s not one or two campaigns. Content marketing is a long-term, ongoing commitment. Content marketing can provide real business value and ROI in the form of the following metrics and more: Awareness, engagement, lead generation, brand perception, sales, and brand loyalty. However, it takes a lot of data-driven campaigns to win a target audience’s attention and guide people through the sales cycle. In the long-run, building brand will buy you equity in the market, distinguish you from the competition, and establish trust, credibility, and loyalty with your audience. Once you have a brand, you can charge more and attract new business without having to advertise or sell yourself as aggressively as those who have not build a brand.
How do you know if you’re ready for content marketing?
You’re not ready for content marketing unless you have the following in place:
Can’t go too far without it! Although the democratization of video and media publishing has made the cost of content production cheaper and easier than it’s ever been before, creating high-quality content at scale and distributing it across various marketing channels still costs a decent chunk of change. Unless you have the resources in-house to do it all yourself (most small and mid-size level organizations don’t), then you will need to outsource it and it will not come cheaply. In fact, the average marketing consultant or agency charges small to mid-size businesses retainers ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 per month and often, even higher.
Here is what much of your content marketing spend goes toward:
Content creation i.e.:
- Blog posts
- Email newsletters
- Memes and infographics
Some of it goes toward distribution and measurement:
- Marketing automation software
- Social media scheduling tools
- Analytics tools
- Client relationship management (CRM) systems
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Tools for finding influencers, relevant content, and mentions of your brand
The rest goes toward advertising spend, paid promotion, or influencer partnerships:
- Facebook ads
- Instagram ads
- LinkedIn ads
- Influencer deals
- Product giveaways
You’re going to need people to be managing your campaigns — from strategy to content creation to ads management. You’ll likely need a combination of in-house staff and an outside marketing agency to make this possible. Most small businesses do not have the former and many cannot afford the latter.
Here’s some of the people you’ll need:
- A qualified social media manager
- Someone to facilitate coordination between departments (e.g. marketing, sales, and customer service)
- A project manager
- Bloggers, graphic designers, videographers, photographers, and other creatives
- Data scientists
- An in-house marketing coordinator or staff members who can work with an outside consultancy or agency
Nobody has this precious resource in abundance, but newer companies tend to have more of it on their hands than more established ones. Organizations with a large enough budget can pay for some or all of the necessities listed above so that time will no longer be an issue. However, organizations that lack the necessary financial resources and human capital will have to find or make the time to devote to content marketing. They will have no other choice.
If you are not yet able to afford a content marketing agency, what should you do?
Make More Sales: As stated above, branding and content marketing services are not short-term marketing solutions. You will need to focus on short-term sales to generate cash flow in the interim before you will be able to afford content marketing. But, don’t blow that money on personal luxuries or spend it on less important areas of your businesss. Rather, use that cash to invest in quality content marketing.
DIY (Do it Yourself): Even if you’re on a tight budget, it’s still important to be building your brand and establishing a presence on online. The good news is that you don’t need a big, fancy team and the latest high tech gear to get started. You can do it yourself! Start posting on social media platforms. Every day. Now. Make videos with your smartphone. Start a podcast. Write a blog. If you’re not satisfied with where you or your business currently are, then you have to work overtime to do these things yourself or utilize the help of freelancers. This might mean you have to sacrifice nights and weekends or get up extra early to do it outside of your regular work hours, but how badly do you want it? There are no shortcuts. There are no excuses. Grab your phone and get to work.
Grind, Hustle, and Work Your A$$ Off: If I have to explain this one to you, then no amount of branding and content marketing is going to help you or your business grow. Once, you generate enough revenue, put it toward creating better content (e.g. professional quality video) and hire a competent marketing consultant or agency to help you.
Don’t get bamboozled by an expensive agency that wants to take your money when you don’t yet have the money, team, or resources to invest. Content marketing can only provide a return on your investment if you do it right and to do it right, you need to be able to go all in.