“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Peter Drucker, The Practice of Management, 1954
I spend a lot of time looking at websites of small and medium sized B2B firms. With greater frequency, I’ve noticed that many of those companies appear to have given up on content marketing.
The telltale sign of a company’s (active or passive) decision to abandon content marketing is easy to identify: production of all information in the “news,” “thought leadership” or blog section of its website either abruptly or gradually stops. In some cases, the most recent blog post, press release, media coverage, etc. may be months or even years old. Their website has become a content graveyard.
Companies that have stopped producing content, and allow their old, outdated materials to decay in full view of clients, prospects and referral sources are SCREAMING to the online world:
“We don’t care enough about our brand equity to keep information current.”
“We’ve decided that content marketing really isn’t worth the effort.”
Most companies give up on content marketing because they’ve seen no direct connection between content marketing and tangible business activity (such as lead generation or new clients.) So after 6 months, one year, or a few years, they simply pull the plug, and consider content marketing a failed experiment. And they leave outdated content on their website, hoping that the investment might have some residual value.
There are several reasons why so many companies are giving up on content marketing. Notably:
1. They don’t view marketing as a necessary management discipline. Too many companies view marketing as a part-time function that’s required only when revenue dips. It’s not assigned the same level of importance or consistent focus as other corporate functions, such as operations, IT or finance. Few companies make a serious commitment to marketing or content marketing. Very few companies assign the resources necessary for marketing to succeed.
2. They don’t work from a meaningful plan. Too often, marketing consists of a hodge-podge of tactics…and content marketing is no different. At many firms, content marketing means throwing editorial garbage on the wall and hoping that some of it sticks. There is no editorial calendar, or even agreement on the core messages the company must communicate through its content…to support its value proposition, distinguish the firm from competitors, or supplement its sales strategy.
3. They produce the wrong kind of content. Autopsies of companies that give up on content marketing show that their editorial efforts are self-serving, impossible to read, or of little interest to target audiences. Misled by marketers, some firms believe that pushing out a steady stream of “curated” (other people’s) content will keep them top-of-mind. But that strategy only serves to overstay a company’s welcome with their important audiences.
4. They don’t merchandise their content. The saddest examples of failed content marketing programs involve companies that produce great content, but don’t make it work for them by gaining the market visibility and traction it deserves. Content needs to be put to work through direct and indirect channels. Hanging content on a website blog, or posting it on social media, are tactics of limited value; particularly if nothing’s being done to generate website traffic or to raise online visibility.
There are practical reasons why many firms have great success with content marketing. Effective content marketing programs are visible everywhere online. There are no secret formulas.
Those firms that have given up on the strategy, or are considering throwing in the towel, simply need to take a very close look at what those successful firms are doing, and be willing to start over by emulating and making a commitment to follow those best practices.