This post is the first in a series that we hope will inspire you to launch a content marketing program. The insights shared in the series are based on my personal experience working on a content marketing program for Something Digital, as well as creating one for my professional life. The first one addresses the biggest obstacle encountered by most people: Getting Started. Here’s the best advice: don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.
Earlier this year a client approached me at Magento Imagine 2019, inspired by a talk I gave. Like a lot of people, he was anxious to lose weight, start running, blog more, create better content and so on. If we’re honest, we all have a laundry list of things we want to do in order to become the people we aspire to be. What stops us?
We have a stubborn belief that if the results of our efforts aren’t completely amazing then we’re not quite ready to begin. When I began exercising seriously, meaning when I decided to commit to regular workouts with the goal of benefiting my health long term, I didn’t want to just go for a run, I wanted a state-of-the-art exercise regime that would revolutionize my life.
I get it. But you know what? Training for a marathon begins with a first run. Maybe the first time you lace up you’re only able to run a quarter mile but that’s okay, you’re on your way. The same is true when launching a content marketing program. You may want a well thought out strategy with 20 blog posts ready to go — all beautifully crafted by a team of top notch writers and guaranteed to make every reader believe you’re a genius — and maybe you’ll get there some day. But in the meantime, you need to write your first blog post, and for many that is an insurmountable challenge.
But it doesn’t have to be. We need to recognize that we impose arbitrary constraints on ourselves. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where your are.”
I quoted Teddy to our client at Magento Imagine and it truly inspired him. A few days later I got an email from him saying that he started running and logged his runs on Strava. He also began posting on LinkedIn. His articles asked more questions than answered, but it was enough to get the process going.
We evolve constantly, so let’s embrace our growth
One of the reasons retailers tell me they put off their content marketing strategy is that they’re waiting for their website to be absolutely perfect. Who wants to drive traffic to a broken site, right? So until every last bell or whistle works flawlessly, they hold back on social media, blogging, ad spend, paid search campaigns — all the stuff that will grow their business.
To me this is an unfortunate mistake. All businesses and brands evolve at a constant pace. Things you did six months ago will seem juvenile to you now, but that’s only because your skills are better today. With each passing quarter our skills are honed, so every time we look back, we can’t help but be impressed with how much better our end results are.
From content marketing perspective, brands are anxious to roll out posts and tweets for all possible personas of buyers, but really, you should start with just one, and trust that future personas will be better and more sophisticated. You know, walk before you run.
Turn Lemons into Lemonade
I worked with a footwear brand that knew it had to embark on a social media campaign, but every time it posted to Instagram users responded with the same complaint: the brand’s shoes uncomfortable out of the box. Those complaints hurt their sales.
Of course they’re uncomfortable on the first wear — all shoes made of full grain leather are stiff, and need time to conform to the wearer’s foot. My advice: build a campaign around that reality, such as, “post a photo each day you wear your new shoes and watch how they conform to you feet.”
Once they got that messaging down, I advised the brand to start blogging about the orthopedic benefits of wearing a high-quality shoe that conforms to the individual consumer’s foot, such as the reduction of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. After that, blog about the health benefits of open toe shoes and so on.
Consumers may not understand what to expect from your products, and how those expectations can evolve over time. That should give you plenty of inspiration for your editorial calendar.
Starting Your First Blog Post
If you’re not sure how to begin your first post, start with the things you know best: your customers, and how your products uniquely meet their needs. If, by some remote chance you don’t know your customers very well, pick up the phone and talk to them. Jeremy King, former CTO and current SVP of Technology at Pinterest told me that when he worked at eBay, Meg Whitmen expected every employee to speak to at least 10 eBay customers each year. If eBay can do it, so can you.
It is a fact that when embarking on a content marketing program you will encounter numerous challenges along the way; challenges you can’t even anticipate yet. At the same time, you’ll also acquire the knowledge, expertise, systems and people needed to help your content marketing succeed and scale. The only way it won’t succeed is if you wait for all the pieces to fall into place for you get started.
If you need help on your content strategy or getting started, let us know!