5 content marketing myths debunked

content-icnI didn’t become a believer in content marketing overnight. I was dragged kicking and screaming—and many of my content marketing clients were too. Yet once we reached the “other side,” our attitudes quickly changed to “why didn’t we do this a long time ago?”

For those of you who may be grappling with similar doubts, here are five common myths that hold creatives back from using content marketing successfully, and how to get beyond them.

(Need a quick primer on content marketing? Check out the post: 5 things to know about content marketing.)

“Content marketing” is just a the same old marketing with a new name.

While some of the techniques used in content marketing may not be new, it’s a mistake to think of content marketing as a traditional sales pitch in disguise. Critically, a fair amount of the content marketing process shouldn’t try to close a sale, but to establish relationships by building your credibility, generating awareness, and creating goodwill.

If you’re doing it right it almost feels like you’re giving something away for free, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get value in return for your efforts. Think of the information you share as a “free sample” of the service you provide. If you’ve learned the needs of your audience well enough to make your content useful, they’ll be more likely to recognize your value—and to turn to you when they’re ready to buy.

Only big organizations get any benefit from content marketing.

One of the advantages of doing business in an Information Age is the power of the Internet, which allows even a one-person business to enjoy the king of global reach formerly available only to big firms with deep pockets. The key to success is creating content your audience is excited about and getting it in front of the right people.

Once your content machine is up and running, prospects can find you through Web search, subscribers will forward content they like to their colleagues and friends, and if you hit the jackpot the social media monsters will take your content viral. For even better results, find a way to get your content published by the sites and periodicals your best prospects read.

But even if none of these things happen, you can still get big paybacks just by showing up regularly in your subscribers’ inboxes. My “house” mailing list is pretty modest, but most of the people on it are high-quality prospects for my services. They run the gamut from close friends and relatives (hi, mom!), to past and current clients, to people I’ve met at industry and networking events. Some have become clients after receiving my newsletter for several years. Others have referred good clients my way because they’ve learned who I’m a good fit for by reading my stuff.

There’s so much noise out there already that it couldn’t possibly work for me.

Actually, the noise is your friend. With so many choices for information, your prospects may be confused about who to listen to.

Good content marketing overcomes information overload by providing useful insights to a highly-targeted audience. Demonstrate that you are the source who understands their needs best and your message will have greater weight with your audience. The resulting relationships establish you as a trusted curator, enabling you to shut out some of the “noise” of your competition.

I can send out content marketing whenever I feel like it.

Today’s technology makes it easy to send messages whenever you feel like it, but there are two compelling reasons not to do this.

First, if you only push content out when you feel like it, it becomes easy to let it slide whenever day-to-day stuff interferes. Pretty soon nothing’s getting done.

Second, a regular schedule makes you more credible to your readers, especially if you show up at the same time every month, every other week, or more often. At a bare minimum, you should try to touch your audience at least once a month, preferably on the same scheduled day (the second Tuesday of the month, for example). Committing to a schedule also helps you stay accountable to your marketing goals, and will encourage you to build your content plan into your schedule.

I don’t have the time to do content marketing.

Spending an hour or two a week on a content marketing plan is a small price to pay for the substantial benefits it returns over time. If even that sounds like too much, the good news is you don’t have to do everything yourself. Outside firms or talented freelancers can help you develop a content strategy and take the task of keeping it on schedule off your shoulders. Watch for more details on how to make this work in an upcoming post.

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