One thing is clear to anyone in business today: the “status quo” is, in fact, transient. Nowhere is this fluidity more apparent than in the realm of content marketing. Success is available only to those who can identify trends and swiftly make course corrections to capture opportunities or eliminate potentially wasteful efforts.
That’s not so easily accomplished, when challenges are coming at you from every direction. Are you prepared to handle them gracefully, or are you dropping the ball? Eric Wittlake suggests the key sources of challenges can be divided into these three categories:
1. Internal influences.
You could see a major shift in your marketing budget, either up or down. Your company could introduce new products or enter new markets. The company’s marketing content needs could change significantly. A key team member could leave.
Wittlake believes you need scalable infrastructure and a marketing team that has a shared understanding of company goals and the ability to step into sudden gaps or quickly absorb new people. You need a content plan that covers all aspects of your marketing, so that no matter what happens your efforts will continue to be well-coordinated and focused or smoothly re-directed as necessary.
Your content marketing plan is a means to an end – achieving leads, sales, better customer relationships, whatever you’ve identified. If your goals shift, that will also influence your content marketing. Specific tactics, and possibly your entire strategy, will have to change to meet your new needs.
2. External influences.
Some things may be out of your control, but ignoring them as “unaddressable” could be detrimental, or deadly. New or newly-configured competitors, emerging competitive categories and new delivery channels can all profoundly influence how well your current content marketing plan continues to work.
3. Audience influences.
Ah, those fickle customers and prospects. When their priorities or individual situations change, you have to match their moves, like a finely-tuned dance partner. If they buy from someone else, will you write them off or find ways to stay in touch with them? If your audience isn’t the end-user but mid-level decision-makers needing to justify your products or services to their boss, do you make resources readily available to help them with that?
What if your audience reacts unexpectedly to your marketing message or delivery method? The faster you pick up on that, learn from it and adjust your content marketing accordingly, the more successful you’ll be at keeping customers and prospects interested and engaged.
The new mantra is agility.
Anyone in business knows that agility is a primary survival tool these days. If you can’t adapt seamlessly and quickly to change, you’re in for a steep downhill slide.
Rigidly adhering to your content marketing plan just won’t work. Yes, you’ve spent a lot of time and effort devising the plan. It’s all mapped out, working like a well-oiled machine. But what if one of your assumptions changes, thanks to the influence of some internal, external or audience-based development?
Your content marketing strategy has to include built-in flexibility, deliberately leaving room to add last-minute content, discontinue suddenly out-of-date or off-target content, take advantage of emerging trends or other opportunities.
It’s not just the content itself.
You may have to change your format. Just because you have a blog and it’s going pretty well doesn’t mean you’ll never need to incorporate video, downloadable articles, e-news or any other of a host of options. Pinterest is soaring in popularity -- maybe you need a new focus on photos. Are you ready to make it happen? You have to create and deliver content in the format your audience wants, or risk being ignored.
You may have to change you delivery channel. The challenges you face can significantly alter the emphasis you should place on social media, pay-per-click or display advertising, SEO, email or other delivery methods.
In order for your content marketing to be effective you have to plan for change. If you’re prepared and poised to remain agile, you can take challenges in stride, meeting them head-on, learning from them, capitalizing on them or artfully dodging them -- whenever they present themselves and wherever they come from.