A lot of people go into the consultation business. I have been in the consultation business for the past 4+ years and I can very confidently say that it’s no walk in the park.
I have consulted for small to medium businesses right from search engine optimization, web usability to content marketing strategies. Lately my focus is largely on content marketing and I want to share with you one very important aspect of being a content marketing/ inbound marketing consultant.
The 2 skills you need to be a great content marketing consultant are
- Art of Convincing
- Ability to compromise
Yep, you need to sharpen your convincing skills much more than you’d need as a normal SEO or marketing consultant. You’d also need to heavily compromise on getting things done perfectly if you want to be successful in your consulting business.
Ok, some of you might be thinking that it’s a common skill required for consultants. Let me tell you one thing. It’s far more difficult to convince companies to spend time creating content to provide value to their users rather than convincing them to take up your SEO services.
Content marketing has been gaining attention lately (although it has been there for many years), and companies find it reluctant to embrace it. They’d gladly go with pay per click or SEO because it has already proven its effectiveness or at least, those words are not totally alien to most companies.
Why Companies Are Reluctant to Put Time into Content Marketing?
It’s easy for us to say that those guys are morons and that they are dumb not to embrace things like these. However, when you think from their end, it makes total sense to go with what they are doing right now rather than try out something new.
Here are some reasons I believe companies resist the change
#1: Managers Have to Meet Targets
In most companies, marketing departments have targets to meet. It could be sales quota, website traffic numbers, leads acquired, or just about any other metric which the company believes is important for them.
When you suddenly propose a long term value based approach, the suggestion seems to be counterproductive in reaching their short term targets. If you want them to stop spending so much time on PPC and want them to blog, even though it may save a lot of money, they still won’t be able to achieve their targets for another 6 months or so.
Unless the higher level management really understands, this can be a huge problem. Even if the higher management understands, they would need to show quarterly results to their investors. Investing time in content marketing means may sometimes mean having a bad short term report to present to investors or shareholders.
In most companies, people want to save their jobs, and unless they are highly influential, they can’t afford to show bad performance in a quarter even though the next quarter may give them almost a 500% or even more growth.
So from a business perspective, doing something completely different will almost result in a blatant no to your content marketing suggestions.
The best way to overcome this problem is by suggesting gradual changes over time so that majority of the marketing efforts are not put into something completely different. This will ensure that the performance reports don’t go down, but gradually content marketing can take over.
#2: Companies Don’t Believe in Content Marketing
This is a tough situation.
On one hand you are an evangelist of content marketing. On the other hand, you need clients to keep the cash flow.
What happens when someone wants your service, but don’t necessarily believe in content marketing. You tell them all the wonderful things about it and yet they find it hard to digest or they simply dismiss it saying it’s not effective.
Some companies even say that they tried it and didn’t work for them. And then I ask them what exactly they did. The answer in most cases is that they wrote articles on the site and they didn’t get customers.
How can customers engage with you when they didn’t know that content existed in their site in the first place? Creating content is one thing only. Marketing the content is absolutely essential to reach your target audience.
Some businesses even don’t bother to create great engaging content. They either copy it from some other place or create worthless content that even they’d never want to read in the first place! Or the content might be blatant promotion or news about the company itself. People don’t want to read about your company affairs, they want actionable advice that will make their lives better.
The best solution for this is to educate the company influencers as much as possible. Some have an affinity to numbers and case studies. If so, show them numbers and case studies of how other companies have actually benefited from content marketing.
#3: Content Marketing Actually Doesn’t Work For Them
Strange as it may seem, for some companies, content marketing doesn’t work well. One example maybe companies that manufacture axles for trucks. In this case, creating content isn’t going to work that well. Instead they might have to rely on traditional methods of marketing their products.
The best solution is to actually not ask them to take up content marketing. But you can always offer those companies SEO services or other marketing services to get more customers.
Over to you:
What has been your greatest challenge as a consultant or an evangelist of content marketing? How have you overcome those issues? Let me know in the comments.