With the popularity of content marketing, it’s hard to believe that there are still several companies out there who are getting it wrong. But I assure you, this problem exists. However, it’s hard to put a finger on where this “problem” is originating from – the company or the content marketer? Or both?
Reviewing some of the content marketing positions posted online, I found that several of them included a sales material support component or content management. A majority of the time, the role was 50/50 – which meant that almost half the time would be dedicated to creating sales materials, like collateral, product sheets, brochures, and so on. This isn’t to say that providing sales with materials isn’t important – it’s just not content marketing.
For the record, content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content; content that attracts and retains a clearly defined audience – to ultimately drive profitable customer action, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). I feel that the key phrase in that definition is “strategic marketing approach” – meaning that content marketers aren’t just production houses — there’s a method to the madness.
This could be where the rift is occurring – companies are lumping all content under content marketing instead focusing on creating and distributing content strategically. A study conducted by CMI found that 60% of content marketers who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of effectiveness, compared to 32% of those who only have a verbal strategy. Documenting your strategy makes it more tangible for senior team members and gives you the opportunity to clearly define your role and set expectations.
But before you even accept a content marketing job, make sure you have a full understanding of what the expectations are for your role. If half your time is dedicated to creating materials that don’t support your content marketing initiatives, then it may not be the role for you. Having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for and what a company expects is the best way to make sure everyone is happy.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading Great by Choice, written by the notable Jim Collins, after Stewart Lyons, CEO at TeraGo Networks, recommended the book. Full of amazing information, this book holds a great deal of practical advice that one could apply to their career and life. After finishing the book, I found that there were three core concepts that greatly contributed to success; discipline, consistency, and preparation. I then considered how these concepts – or characteristics – could be applied to content marketing, and this is what I came up with:
1. Discipline: Establishing and adhering to a schedule can be difficult – especially if you work in an industry that is constantly evolving – but it’s very important for success. When you follow a schedule, such as an editorial calendar or content agenda, you have the ability to prepare, plan, and track your content. This allows you to build anticipation for your upcoming content pieces (ex. “check back next week when we cover part 2 of…”) and plan any SEO keyword changes.
2. Consistency: Communicating the same underlying values or traits throughout your content is essential when building or promoting your brand. Whether you’re creating content for a large business or small e-commerce site online, maintaining a consistent message is key to building trust. If your blog says one thing – like “we’re vegetarian” – and your recently published whitepaper says another – like “here’s why pork is important” – your prospects and customers won’t know which message to believe.
3. Preparation: One of the examples in the book that really resonated with me was about Bill Gates and his inability to stop working – even when his company, Microsoft, had achieved great success. The fear of facing an unknown obstacle drove Gates to continue working, because you never know when things might change. Since content marketing is changing every day, keeping up to date on all the latest tactics and trends can help you stay on step ahead – and one step closer to being a great content marketer.
This is the perfect time of year to begin incorporating these three concepts into your content marketing career since everyone is shifting into 2015 planning mode. Now, would I recommend this book to everyone? No. This book would only resonate with those who have a passion for the work they’re doing. If you’re not somewhat motivated to grow and develop your skills, then don’t even bother. This isn’t a passive read – it’s meant to provide you with the tools you need to build your own success.
Now let’s get one thing straight – I’m no feminist. But – there is an inequality in the workplace. This isn’t the written version of a bra-burning, it’s simply a feeling that has led to observation. And, after a little digging, I found that I wasn’t the only one to make this type of observation. I found study after study on the impact your relationship status has on your performance, perception, and monetary worth in the workplace. And this isn’t only impacting the female employees – male employees are feeling it too.
The fact that men typically earn more than women in the workplace has become widely accepted (again, anyone can find study after study documenting this fact). However, recent surveys of the American workforce revealed that there’s a shift in power happening. The full time salaries of young women were 8% higher than those of the young men in their peer group. Now, as a young woman, I’m happy to hear this – but I’m also suspicious. What’s behind this “women on top” shift?
After some more digging, I find my answer. There’s a caveat to this study! The women who were making more money were the ones who were unmarried, childless women under the age of 30 who live in cities. The rest of the working women – even those of the same age, but who are married or don’t live in a big city – are still on the “wrong side” of the wage divide.
So now, not only are women battling the wage-war with men – but with other women too. The “family women” versus the “single ladies”. Once again, I did some digging – finding several articles from single women who felt they were treated unfairly by their colleagues or managers for not having children or a spouse. For example, one of the articles stated “the flexible 40 hour work week is typically reserved for parents, while those without children are expected to spend extra hours at the workplace because they don’t have anywhere better to be”.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who has seen this type of scenario play out – where an employee’s work schedule has been planned around a daycare pick up or some sort of after school class – but it doesn’t bother me. Children are a huge responsibility – that’s a universal understanding – so I can’t quite fully support the women who feel they’re being treated unfairly because they don’t have a family to tend to.
In fact, single women should be celebrating! This is good news! Not that I’m saying inequality in the workplace is acceptable – because it’s not – and if you feel that your place of employment is treating you differently for the wrong reasons, you should definitely talk to someone about it (as in HR). However, I’m certainly not upset over the fact that I’m likely to make more than my peers – both men and women. That is – assuming I stay single!