Through the Spyglass


Three Signs It’s the Right (Or Wrong) Time to Start Your Content Program

As a business person and marketer you have many options for promoting your company. You can go the traditional route through direct mail, billboards, printed advertisements, hiring sales people and cold calling, etc.

But unless you have a sizeable budget, these options might be out of reach. And if you do have budget, you might be wondering whether it’s the best use of your funds as you try to grow your business.

What you might not have considered is utilizing content marketing. Or you might think content marketing is for those companies who are more established and have already implemented their traditional programs.

But the reality is, content is an effective and cost efficient means to grow your business, right from the get-go.

A Content Marketing Success Story

In an interview Contently conducted with Unbounce, a landing page software company, about their content marketing efforts, Unbounce shared that they began blogging six months before they even made their product available to customers. They largely attribute their success (which includes gaining 9,800 paying customers and $7 million in annual revenue) to their early adoption of content marketing.

Unbounce had a particular challenge (and benefit) of launching a product in a relatively new space. Many people weren’t aware of landing pages or the need for landing pages when they launched in 2009. So Unbounce in many ways had to create demand for their product through education. They accomplished this through content.

But this doesn’t mean every company should start their content program right away. Here are some signs you should wait to start your content program – or get it started right away.

Three Signs You Should Wait to Start a Content Program

1. You don’t have a defined business strategy.

If you do not yet have a defined business strategy, then any content you produce will probably be unfocused and ineffective. For example, if you’re not yet sure what you’re selling, or how you will sell it, then writing a blog about a general subject won’t do you much good.

Each piece of content you produce should have a specific goal. Maybe it’s to gain email signups or online purchases. Whatever the case, if your business plan is a mess, then your blogs will likely follow suit. Make sure that you have clear concept of your buyer’s journey and then produce content to support that journey.

2. You don’t have defined buyer personas.

People are looking for online content precisely relevant to themselves. They’re busy and looking for solutions to their challenges. If you don’t have a clear idea of who your target audience is and what they’re looking for, then your content may miss the mark. You might write too broadly and not be compelling, or write specifically but for needs your target audience doesn’t have.

Either scenario doesn’t help your business or could ultimately harm your overall efforts. To avoid this make sure you have documented buyer personas. You can download our free template here.

  3. You aren’t prepared to be consistent in content production.

Consistency is very important in content marketing. When trying to build search engine authority or trying to gain readership, you need to produce content on a regular basis. Whether that’s an ebook once a month, or a blog once a week, it’s important to establish a production schedule that is realistic for your team.

If your team is not in a position to produce content on a regular basis, you might consider holding off until you can. A one-off downloadable resource like an e-book can still be beneficial for a lot of businesses. But in order to really gain traction you’ll need a more comprehensive and consistent schedule. Check out our downloadable content calendar here if you need a template.

Now that we’ve discussed some signs you should wait to start your content program, let’s look at some signs you should get started as soon as possible.

Three Signs You Should Start a Content Program ASAP

1.  You’re trying to grow your business.

As exemplified by Unbounce, content marketing is a key way to grow a business. By providing content that educates customers you build trust and affinity that will add to your bottom line. When you provide regular relevant content you’ll drive website traffic. If you have downloadable resources of value then people will willingly share their contact information to gain those resources. From there you can keep them informed about your business. When they’re ready to buy, they don’t have to look far.

2. You’re trying to retain business.

As most marketers and business people know, just because someone buys from you once, doesn’t mean they’ll buy from you again. There are competitors constantly vying for your customers’ attention and wallets. Retaining customers is just as important as gaining new ones (and more cost effective).

So if you’re looking to retain customers (which you should be!) then you need to incorporate this goal into your content marketing. In addition to your products and services being stellar, you want to provide value through resources. Regular email communication, social media, videos, etc., are all ways to stay in touch and keep your customers interested and engaged.

3. You’re trying to reduce overall cost-per-acquisition.

Perhaps you’re gaining business at a rate you’re happy with. But could your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) costs be lower? What would you do with the funds gained by lowering your CPA? You can probably name five things right now! Content marketing is an effective way to lower your CPA. If you’re investing in traditional advertising or even paid search advertising, consider the long term gains from adjusting to a more content centric approach.

Should everyone commit to a content marketing program right now? Not necessarily. And we gave you three signs you might want to wait. However, it’s very likely that your company is trying to grow your business, retain business, or lower your CPA. In any of those cases, content marketing could be a great solution.