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How to Overcome Two of Content Marketing's Toughest Challenges
Finding enough time to do all the tasks that content marketing requires—ideating, creating, distributing, and measuring high-quality content at scale—is the top challenge for content marketers, according to a recent study by ClearVoice.
Another leading concern is finding talented marketing professionals who both understand the content marketing process and can execute a content marketing strategy efficiently.
Here we'll look at both of those challenges, but let's explore the top one first. Whether your team is lacking organization, struggling to scale and distribute engaging content, or feeling overwhelmed with deadlines and time commitments—or it's challenged with any of the other nuances that can affect your content marketing efforts—the following advice can help you correct course and get more done in the limited time you have.
Concentrate on strategic marketing fundamentals
The survey suggests that time management is the top challenge for content marketers.
That finding indicates marketers are likely juggling too many responsibilities without having proper processes or organization in place.
As marketing expectations run high in today's competitive environment—and the gamut of marketing channels, tools, and audience needs rapidly evolves—professional marketers are frequently reminded of how much more they can (and should) be doing.
The problem is that there never seems to be enough time or money to accomplish everything.
This advice goes against the typical marketing mentality of "more, more, and then how can we do more," but to make better use of your limited time and other resources, you need to concentrate on the marketing fundamentals and the purpose of your content before juggling the day-to-day tactical challenges.
JP Hanson, brand strategist and CEO of Rouser, may have said it best: "Your content marketing will never reach its full potential until you know its role in the overall marketing strategy and what objectives you're trying to reach."
Andy Crestodina, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Orbit Media Studios Inc., adds, "Strategy is a plan to reach a goal—and content strategy is a plan to reach a marketing goal by creating and promoting content that makes the audience believe. It triggers an action, a spark. And like any good plan, it's easily measured."
"Most content fails to achieve any real results—and most marketers flood inboxes and social streams without meeting goals. The tragedy is that most content never really aligned with a goal in the first place," he adds.
If you're struggling with your marketing strategy, then you will ultimately struggle more with the toughest challenge in content marketing: time management.
To overcome that challenge, you need to start managing expectations with your superiors and prioritizing the content efforts that will make the most significant impact on the business:
- Cancel all meetings regarding low-priority projects.
- Schedule a weekly 30-minute debrief with department shareholders to update your status on projects. Discuss which projects are the highest priority and any roadblocks that could interfere.
- Keep meetings as short and on-topic as possible. Plan a prioritized outline and ask meeting attendees to come prepared with notes.
- Clarify expectations, KPIs, and deadlines with your team no more than twice a week. Trust your team to deliver results, and hold them accountable.
- Continue to build a case with your superiors on the importance of proper marketing strategy and team alignment—and how they will impact the entire organization.
Communicate the challenges that you face, follow an organized marketing strategy, and manage realistic work expectations to overcome your time-management woes.
Understand how to properly market one content campaign before scaling
Marketers are also challenged with ideating and creating high-quality content. And the pressure is high because there is so much competition for user attention. Only the best content that has been thoughtfully distributed will prove successful.
The marketing community collectively agrees that high-quality content is best, but the expectation that marketers can develop high-quality content with the flick of a finger—and then accomplish similar or better results, again and again, more efficiently each time—is wrong.
Creating content that resonates with an audience, drives brand awareness, or generates conversions takes time and experimentation to figure out.
Yes, your processes should become more efficient over time, but only after you've figured out how to create, distribute, and measure a successful content campaign can you prepare to scale your efforts.
As Brian Honigman, CEO of Honigman Media, says, "Being strategic with your time as a marketer comes down to prioritizing what you're working on and grasping how long different tasks take to complete. The time a content task requires is often overlooked when calculating its return on investment, as compared to the cost. But, both are important factors to keep in mind when measuring success."
The key takeaway here?
You need to prove that your marketing efforts add value to the organization, whether via ROI or other marketing KPIs, before scaling your marketing activities.
If you're struggling to create high-quality content:
- Manage expectations with shareholders, and let them know what you are trying to accomplish by investing more time developing and distributing your marketing content.
- Survey customers and other relevant segments within your audience to better determine what they are interested in learning about.
- Go to a networking event every six weeks, or post industry-related questions weekly on LinkedIn to encourage dialogue.
- Focus on more market research, and learn how to balance your business needs with the needs of your audience.
- Meet with other departmental leaders to understand their challenges and whether your content marketing can help them.
Learn how to find and hire the right content marketers
Another notable finding in the survey is the high proportion of marketers who consider hiring the right talent a top challenge.
Whether contracting with a freelancer, consultant, or content marketing agency—or hiring your team internally—the most important consideration is how that hire serves a purpose within your organization.
Think about the expertise, resources, and functional skills that your team already has at its disposal. What gaps do you need to fill?
One of the problems that arises during a hunt for the right content marketer is finding someone who has the unique skills that your team needs. That goes beyond technical competencies—because those can be taught over time.
Rather, I'm talking about the psychology and work preferences of each person.
For example, some marketers are strategic planners, some are creative, and others are administrative and managerial.
If your marketing department has an excellent copywriter and graphic artist, it may be time to hire a more strategic or managerial candidate. That candidate doesn't necessarily need to have creative skills, because your team already has those.
Identifying the areas where the marketing team has the most significant need can help you refine your job description and find the right type of talent at a cost that fits within your budget.
To identify the best candidates, look for a proven track record and at successful job task simulations during the interview process, suggests Natasha Ness, VP of learning at LeadMD and head of experience and design at Six Bricks.
"We look at what projects candidates have worked on in the past—which is more important to us than who they have worked with. You can discover a lot about past work by reviewing portfolios and sending out project or scenario-based surveys as they apply to your organization," she says.
"We also test candidates to see how quickly and accurately they can simulate the job they are interviewing for. Everyone who interviews completes a practical exercise where they either have to mock a campaign, pitch a brand strategy for a new product to a 'mock' client, or design a client request based off a poorly written project brief."
Those steps can help you identify whether your candidate has the skills to accomplish the job, helping you narrow down the best prospects during the interview process.
Ness notes that a practical exercise is an excellent way to see whether candidates can work under tight timelines, which is the reality of most marketing requests.
Consider those interviewing ideas when hiring freelancers or researching agencies, as well.
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What content marketing challenges do you want to overcome this year and next? Do you agree with the toughest challenges as identified in the ClearVoice survey? Do you have advice for other content marketers about how they should navigate their challenges in 2018? Share your experiences and any feedback in the comments section below.