Content marketing is a hard career path.
By Tracey Wallace
Not just because its hard to measure results (which it can be… but that can also be solved!). Not just because a lot of people think writing is easy (which they do, and for a lot of people, it is!). Not just because the industry is quickly changing and how content folks distribute content in 2024 is well, up in the air.
No, the crux of the challenge (and the opportunity!) in content marketing is in delicatly sewing the thread of the brand argument in a compelling way for your target audience.
To do that, you need to know and deeply understand:
- Your target audience and their industry: Their pain points and challenges, their frustrations, what keeps them up at night. Also, their language, how they speak to each other and those in their field, and what words they don’t use––which ones make an outsider clearly an outsider and which lose trust. And of course, which types of solutions are plausible, which they have tried before, which are well-known in the industry and why, etc.
- Your company’s product: Including what it is great at, and where it falls short––especially in comparison to competitors. And, what the perception of your company’s pros and cons are––even if they aren’t necessarily true. Perception is reality, after all.
- Your company’s POV and future: Where is your company going, what audiences do they want to talk to and which products do they want to sell, which new products are coming and who do they work best for, and how does your company want to change perception in market, what campaigns will you be running and how does that map back to your company’s brand positioning and pillars?
And a lot of companies, especially for those of your subscribed to this newsletter because you email me back about this a lot!, they don’t have this stuff clearly defined.
- It isn’t clear who the target audience is, much less their idnsutry, their preferences, their pain points, and how they speak.
- It isn’t clear how the company’s product stacks up in the market, and what landmines competitors are putting out there for you to trip up on.
- It isn’t clear what the roadmap is for the company, and what your brand pillars are either.
A lot of companies are still trying to find their product-market fit, either as a start-up or as an established company launching new tools into a new market.
Great content with a clear point of view and expertise has to be created in this chaos. In fact, content marketing done right is like working on one of those college group projects we all hated––but for the rest of your career.
And often, when things get overwhelming, when the feedback is never-ending and contradictory, and when your internal team seems to care, and push back on copy, the most––a lot of content folks shut down.
They give in. They stop sewing that thread, and let the compelling fall to the wayside.
And that’s because its hard. It’s hard to take disparate and contradictory feedback and weave a cohesive narrative. And, it’s hard to do that not just once, but in every single article, white paper, asset that you produce.
It’s hard, and it’s the job.
And I’ve found most often that right when you want to give in, right when the feedback is overwhelming and you can’t make sense of what direction it is folks want you to take… that’s often when you have found yourself much too close to the piece, and it’s time to walk away.
Not for good. But for now.
Close the computer, or pull up a different task (I know you have other things you can do!). Put this project to the side for 1 or 2 or 3 days. Put it out of your mind. Walk. Drink wine. Read a book.
And what you’ll often find––what I often find––is that the path to the narrative that appeases everyone, the one that is the most compelling, is just beyond this phase. And with a little time, and distance, your subconscious often solves it for you.
You’ll be cooking breakfast, or showing, or putting the baby to bed and it’ll hit you: the solution. The way forward. And so often, it’s such a small change. Some words here or there. A rearranging. And rarely over a complete re-do.
Content marketing is hard because telling compelling and cohesive stories is our job. Customer stories. Thought leadership. Research. Analysis. Webinars. Conferences. It doesn’t matter the type of the venue. The first goal is the same because it tracks back to your overall success at driving traffic and leads––it must be compelling, and it must be cohesive, and it must be consistent.
And companies themselves aren’t often those things. But you are, and you can make your content that, too. With time. WIth distance. As long as you keep sewing the thread, asking the questions, connecting the disparate dots, and following your curiosity.
Content marketing is hard, and what a blessing it is to bring stories and solutions to life.