Play the long game

Content marketing is a marathon not a sprint, requiring businesses and brands to adopt a different state of mind

I am often asked how long it takes for content marketing activity to deliver tangible results. Will it be days, weeks or months before those daily blog posts turn readers into paying customers? It is natural, of course, for businesses to want to see a return on investment from their marketing activity, but when it comes to content marketing a different mind-set is required.

Content marketing is about building genuine relationships with your target market, relationships based on trust and respect. As in real life, such bonds take time to form and differ from person to person. As a business with a product to sell, it is about proving to consumers that your intentions are good, that you are willing to give them something of value without expecting anything in return. And on an on-going basis.

To traditional marketers, this can seem counter intuitive. The idea of investing money in content – be it blog posts, white papers, opinion articles placed in magazines and on news websites – with no anticipated near-term kickback sounds ludicrous and, worse, financially misguided. But the way consumers react to marketing collateral has changed, and they are now savvier than ever before.

The internet is a powerful tool, and one that is constantly at their disposal via their smartphone and tablet devices. When deciding to engage with a business, brand or product – whether on a B2B or B2C basis – they can easily research all of the options available to them. Business that provide genuine, high-value information for free are the ones able to engage the consumer in an authentic way.

Will they buy straight away? Probably not. But when they do buy – it maybe in a months’ time, it may be in a years’ time – you will be front of mind. This is certainly the case if you can provide a reason for them to continue to engage with your business or brand in the interim. This is why blogs work so well – when updated regularly, they can become the go-to authority on the subject they cover.

There are other tools at your disposal, too. Opinion articles placed in publications read by your target market position you as an authority in your area of business, be it fashion, insurance, law, automotive, wine and so on. So long as you use the opportunity to tackle issues and questions impacting your audience and provide them with an unbiased solution or answer, you will continue to build brand affinity.

Given the amount of time it can take to forge such relationships with customers and consumers, businesses should approach content marketing like they would a marathon and not a sprint. But even that is taking a simplistic view of the dedication and commitment required if you want to succeed at tapping into the psyche of your target audience, and convert them into paying customers in the long-term.

To do this, you have to adopt the content marketing mind-set. You have to embrace authenticity, and produce copy that is educational, engaging and entertaining. To do this, you must invest time in researching the type of content your target audience is seeking – are they looking for reviews, tips, comparisons, guides – and the format in which they want to receive it – written, audio, visual.

You must then commit to providing this information week in week out, month in month out for years on end. It may sound laborious, and it is. But by doing this you will build genuine, authentic relationships with your readers, people you know are interested in the products and services you offer, and likely on the cusp making that all important decision to purchase.

The great thing about content marketing is that they make this choice without feeling coerced. Sure, you have provided them with the information required to arrive at that decision, but without resorting to the hard sell. This make take longer than other marketing methods, but once they have taken the leap they tend to become fiercely loyal to your business and brand.

As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.

Leave a Reply