Content marketing is many things, but it isn’t magic. Let’s get serious about what content marketing requires and the type of results marketers can expect from consistently producing, distributing, and amplifying high-quality content. (And yes, there’s a reason for the bearded man – keep on reading and you will find out why)

Yes, it is true that content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders. Content marketing works, but not as simply as many marketers think. You can’t just create content, stick it somewhere, and wait for the leads to come rolling in.

Content marketing works, but it is hard. You are competing with lots of other content, including news sites and social media feeds. How do you get people to click your business’s link as opposed to a hilarious meme, a political tell-all, or friends’ photos of cute babies and brunch? (Babies and brunch!? That’s tough competition.) Plus, you need to attract your prospects’ attention and get them to click on your content so they can engage with your brand even further.

Results aren’t immediate. People don’t usually read a blog post or watch a Facebook video and instantly buy something. That is just not how the purchasing journey works. Marketers need to understand that content marketing takes time.

And in case that isn’t hard enough, you need a system for measuring your content marketing’s results, an approach to attribution.

In a very funny and accurate SlideShare, Rand Fishkin, “wizard” of Moz, shows content marketing in action, using himself as an example. After browsing social media networks and news sites, he decides to click on a link to a blog about beards. (See photo below of Randy and you’ll get it.) The blog is by a shaving company called BeardBrand. Rand likes what he reads, so he follows them on social media and watches more of their content. Flash forward to the not so distant future: Rand’s lovely wife tells him he could use some moustache wax. He tries to remember the name of that company with the cool blog and fun videos. He Googles it and when he sees it, recognizes the name. (Luckily it is on the first page of search results.). He clicks and—voila--buys.

That is a realistic representation of how content marketing works. Brands create content, people check it out, and, if they like it, they remember it, and the brand. It is not immediate or even linear, but it is effective, and, these days, it is an absolutely essential part of building a relationship with your target audience.

Content marketing and relationship building

Content marketing is about relationship building. This is no longer reserved for brands selling big ticket items that require lengthier decision-making processes. What we buy, where we shop, and the businesses we choose to partner with say something about who we are. It is important to consumers, and even businesses (if you are a B2B player), that they are saying the right thing.

By creating and/or aligning yourself with content, you are telling people something about your brand and what you stand for. But, as Moustache Man Rand points out, you can’t just produce engaging, interesting content (as if that wasn’t hard enough) and then kick your feet up. You need to get it in front of the right people. This can happen in a variety of ways, from email to paid to social media marketing.

One of those most effective approaches is a Mediaplanet staple – smart partnerships. You can amplify your content, meaning get it into the hands of more readers, viewers, or listeners, by partnering with influencers, thought leaders, and communities. When we craft a new awareness campaign, whether it is about a CSR topic or the future of personal health, we begin by reaching out to the leaders in the space, the non-profits, celebrities, and real people who champion the talking point.

They help us determine if our content is on track and ensure we hit on the most important issues. Then, as we craft our content, we ask ourselves, would this article resonate with that industry leader we spoke with yesterday, or that Facebook group we’ve been messaging? And then we take it one step further: We encourage them to share our content. We send them our links in hopes that, if we have done our job and created content that works, they will share it with their networks, and our content will take on a life of its own. That is content amplification. Is content marketing easy? No. Does content marketing work? Yes, but how it works is complicated and time-consuming and best executed by experts. Want to talk about how to make content marketing work for your business? Reach out to Mediaplanet today.