Contrary to what seems to be a commonly held belief, content marketing is not a one-and-done operation. Just as content marketing is itself a long game, you have to be in it for the long haul to see the kinds of amazing results you’ve read about. But then, we hope most of you already know this part.
What you may be missing is the impact the time frame of successful content marketing has on your actual marketing strategy. Ask yourself, is your strategy keeping up with your present reality? Or have you let it get stale?
Unlike content marketing as a whole, discrete strategies and plans have a shelf-life and need tending and constant attention to stay relevant and on-task. Certain situations call for a reassessment of the track you and your team are taking, and for course corrections that ensure it matches up with the current direction of your industry. You should plan on a debrief every time:
- A campaign ends
- The company restructures
- A product launch is approaching
- A product depreciates
These debrief sessions are a chance to step back from the front lines and take a good hard look at your strategy and how you’re implementing it. Are the channels you’re focusing on still the right place to find your target audience? Is your content still resonating with them? And how about your interactions? Are you keeping up with incoming comments, re-posts, and so on? Certain external conditions also call for some additional attention to be given to your activities. Today we’re looking at four of these shifts: market, audience, product, and general consumer trends.
Markets Shift: Can Your Strategy Keep Up?
When your industry changes course, can your team keep up? Or, on a broader scale, can your company keep up? If you find your products lagging behind your competitors, you might need to sit down with the product team, or development, or someone to assess the situation from a marketing standpoint and see what can be done. If the company is setting a pace concurrent with the rest of the industry, the question is: can your marketing efforts pivot fast enough, thoroughly enough, and accurately enough to support that pace?
Audiences Shift Over Time, Too
People grow up, change jobs, develop new hobbies, and ditch the old ones. Even friend circles ebb and flow with time. When was the last time you updated your target audience personas? If you don’t know, or it was longer than one market cycle ago, it’s time.
At the same time, assess If your target demographic is in turmoil. If so, your options are to either follow your current audience to their new stomping ground or shift to a new demo entirely. Either of these will require, at the very least, the development of a completely new set of personas. Then you can reassess from there.
Can Your Marketing Pivot to Match Product Shifts?
Given the fickle nature of the consumer goods market as a whole, and the shrinking attention span of the general population, companies have to be agile enough to change their product line faster and faster with each passing year. How agile is your inbound marketing strategy? If you can’t answer that question, or if the answer is “about the same as plate tectonics,” it’s time to redesign that strategy. Can you keep up with the quick-cut style of modern social media posts? How about pivoting your campaign message to match the target developed by the other side of the marketing department to go with the new product line nobody filled you in on?
Are you Keeping up with General Consumer Trends?
If not, why? Because if ever there was a segment of the general population that can be difficult to keep up with, it’s the entire general population. Consumer trends watch the overarching consumer market and can highlight areas where people are focusing at any given time. This information can give you a heads up on which social media platforms are up-and-coming vs on the way out. Or it can clue you in on a subject for an eBook that you might never have thought of yourself.
So What Does All of This Have To Do With Your Content Marketing Strategy?
In a word, everything.
If you find out the current consumer obsession is a device that people hold in one hand and endlessly spin, it tells you that their stress levels are getting the better of them and they need something to focus on. Now you can pivot your marketing campaign to consist of shorter video clips, integrate some cat memes into your graphics, and generate content that will help them focus on the solutions you offer.
Or if you find out that your company is dumping the product you’ve spent a year developing a full-scale rollout for in favor of something completely different, you can take that information, pivot tactics, and adjust your output accordingly. If you don’t have a finger on the pulse of production, you might not find out in time.