The title of this entry poses an interesting question: Are there, in fact, companies that shouldn't be using content marketing, or companies that simply won't benefit from a content marketing strategy? I would argue the answer is invariably no and that every company, regardless of industry or area of expertise, can see significant, sustainable, and meaningful growth from the right content marketing framework for their product or service, business goals, and state of play within their industry.
But there are most definitely certain companies – or perhaps companies in certain stages of their lifecycle – that can benefit the most from a content marketing strategy or who should very much consider how content marketing can enhance their overall sales and marketing vision.
Think of it this way: we all know exercise is good for the overall health of the average person, but there are specific individuals who stand to reap more immediate and holistic benefits from a regular jog, bike ride, or power walk. The same principle applies to content marketing in 2020, especially as the global market undergoes potential seismic shifts or fluctuations, and the short-term future looks less clear or defined than in recent memory.
With this in mind, let's examine which companies should be using content marketing in 2020 and why they should integrate content marketing into their overall strategic framework.
If you’re starting a marketing project from scratch
There was a time in the not too distant past when the idea of content marketing was something of the Wild West. The concepts and principles were new and somewhat untested, the pillars and best practices were still being formed, and thought-leaders and true disruptors of the form were in the exploration stage and had not yet discovered what they didn't know. Just ten years ago, the idea of content marketing as part of your sales and marketing philosophy was simply an unknown quantity.
Fast forward to today, and the outline for how to create a successful content marketing strategy is well-defined, the ROIs are known, the best-practices are in place. There is enough literature and guidance to help companies tailor a content marketing strategy that makes the most sense for their overall architecture, available resources, and overall business goals. This means the risk or uncertainty for companies starting a marketing project from scratch to integrate a content marketing component is greatly diminished if not totally eliminated.
If you’re looking to make a statement
Perhaps you're trying to position a product or service that is misunderstood or not even understood by a more general consumer base. Maybe you're trying to significantly change customer or purchasing habits via the product or service you offer. Perhaps your company is poised to act as a true disrupter within your industry. Or, maybe content marketing is simply a sales and marketing tactic that is not deployed with much frequent among your competitors.
If you're looking to make a statement or grab the attention of the movers and shakers within your business landscape and hopefully, potential customers, this is where content marketing can be a real blessing. While these potential scenarios might seem like challenges or hurdles, they're challenges and obstacles that a good content marketing strategy can help you overcome.
What's important here is to remember that content marketing is not just relegated to blogs or other forms of written content. Content marketing can mean videos. Content marketing can mean podcasts or other types of audio components. Content marketing can mean photos or galleries or other visual depictions of data or information.
Content marketing is any brand of messaging that puts your product or service in a position where customers can engage, learn, and connect with you and your company.
If you’re looking to expand into new markets
Think of business expansion in terms of flying an airplane. Whether it's expanding into new markets, expanding your line of products and services, or expanding how your products and services are positioned, purchased, or utilized by customers, a robust, thoughtful content marketing strategy can essentially provide a runway of information, traffic, clicks, leads, and hopefully conversions on which you can safely land.
Again, to take a step back, content marketing is nothing more sophisticated or complex than regularly providing interesting, creative, and engaging content about your company, its product and services, and why your products and services are an essential value proposition for new customers.
If you think about the challenges and hurdles of expansion – everything from enhancing your brand awareness, refining your overall branding, creating buzz about why your product is valuable, and why customers should care about your arrival in a new market – content marketing not only helps overcome those hurdles, but it also provides residual benefits after you successfully expand and a roadmap for how to execute subsequent expansion or growth.
If you’re offering solutions to a complex problem
Let's say you're a company or in an industry whose primary objective is to help customers solve complex problems. Maybe you're a software company that helps streamline internal processes. Or perhaps you're a staffing or talent acquisition company that helps health care organizations fill a niche or challenging to hire positions. Or maybe you're a marketing agency that works with tech companies to craft a narrative about why their tech innovations are so meaningful and impactful to the layperson.
Can these concepts be adequately conveyed with a banner ad? Or a geofencing ad? Or a social media buy? Odds are the answer is no, and this is where content marketing gives you the space and latitude to present solutions to complex problems and make a complicated product or service digestible for a variety of buyer personas or stages of the buyer's journey.
This is not to say content marketing allows you to dumb down or reduce what you're trying to achieve with your business, but it is to say that content marketing gives you more square footage to explain what your company, product, service is all about, and why you matter within your industry.