It’s human nature to relish instant gratification. Our most basic instinctual drives rely on the carnal urge to quickly alleviate displeasure and expedite enjoyment. Moreover, we live in the age of up-to-the-minute newsfeeds, abhorrently fast Internet access, and same-day drone deliveries.
In short, humans face no scarcity of opportunities for immediate satisfaction. As content marketers in this consumer-driven world, we must give the people what they want, right? That means having answers to every question, upon request, at consumers’ fingertips.
Here’s where that process gets remarkably tricky. Even though we fancy ourselves as objective marketers, we’re still under the same influence of human nature as our consumers. One of the ways our instant gratification tendencies manifests itself is a run-and-gun approach to content marketing execution and examination.
I’ll spare you further cliché colloquialisms of good things taking time and running marathons not sprints. I will, however, explain why short-term content marketing campaigns are not only a horrible idea, but really shouldn’t even exist in the industry. To do so, we’ll look at content marketing’s definition and objectives, the definition of “short-term,” as well as real-world examples of the content marketing process.
Content Marketing Definition
The first step in understanding the ineptitude of short-term content marketing campaigns is to look at the definition of content marketing.
“Content marketing is an online marketing strategy that focuses on providing valuable content to current and potential clients and customers.”
The crux of content marketing’s definition is “providing valuable content.” Obvious? Good. Content that your audience finds valuable is mandatory, regardless of your stance on the efficacy of short-term campaigns.
Sometimes to fully understand what something is, it helps to know what it’s not. If there was any uncertainty, a content marketing campaign is NOT an advertising campaign. Simply because both are followed by “campaign” does not make them one in the same. In actuality, no one should understand this better than marketers. We should be the most aware of the many facets of marketing. The folks working in the areas of product, price, and place can attest to that notion.
Let’s examine an academic definition for advertising to see why there’s no excuse for homogenizing the two categories.
“Advertising is paid, impersonal, one-way marketing of persuasive information from an identified sponsor disseminated through channels of mass communication to promote the adoption of goods, services or ideas.”
Did you spot the key word of difference from content marketing’s definition? For one, there’s the clear difference that content marketing provides value for current customers as well as to prospects. But, there is a type of advertising which focuses on informing current users, too.
There is a more decisive point of difference. The element of persuasion is by definition absent from content marketing. While by definition, persuasion is at the very core of advertising. Content marketing is about building a network of long-term brand advocates, not an immediate jump in sales or leads.
Content Marketing Objectives
The critical point of difference in the definitions of advertising and content marketing is also the root of the discrepancies in their ultimate objectives. Take a look at some of the most common goals of each type of campaign.
Content Campaign Objectives
|Advertising Campaign Objectives|
Stimulate Immediate Demand
To speak broadly, the main goal of all content marketing campaigns is to create brand advocates. In turn, these advocates provide your brand with search, referral, social, and word of mouth traffic for years. Which then translates into long-term, sustainable profits.
In advertising, the overarching goal is to instantly impact sales and/or leads. Immediate, measureable, and profitable results are expected here and they should be. Ad campaigns completely satisfy our desire for instant gratification.
Both content marketing campaigns and advertising campaigns have a place in all firms. Your mission, objectives, and goals will determine when and where you utilize each campaign type. It’s up to you to decide when it’s necessary to push a product, but providing long-term value to consumers is an ongoing effort.
Everyone running a content marketing campaign must learn to quiet the desire for instant gratification, while simultaneously providing it to each and every consumer.
All areas of business utilize short- and long-term projections, goals, and projects. It is often the case that short-term goals are used as means-to-an-end for long-term goals. In investment and accounting, short-term typically indicates a duration of less than a year.
Think back to our discussion on the definitions. In advertising, the core goal was to spark immediate action. Now, that short-term goal is often used in conjunction with a long-term advertising plan or direction. However, advertising is still better measured and assessed in the short-term.
Every single content marketing initiative requires you to take the long-term approach. John Hall, Forbes contributor and CEO of Influence & Co, says the following on content marketing initiatives, “Any solid initiative needs at least six months to yield impact.” Any content marketing campaign that hasn’t been in place for AT LEAST half a year will not give you results, or at least not the results for which you’re hoping.
It all boils down to consistency. A term not included in the definition of content marketing, but probably should be added. Posting a few blog posts here and there does not constitute a content marketing campaign.
Consistency equals authority. When consistency is absent or overlooked, the consumer has no reason to look at you as anything more than an occasional commentator. Occasional commentators do not develop a posse of passionate brand advocates. And that’s when content marketing pays dividends.
Proof That It’s A Process
As with the law of gravity and the influence of instincts, no one is excused from the incapability of short-term content marketing campaigns. Take a look at Neil Patel, co-founder of Quick Sprout, Crazy Egg, and KISSmetrics. Everyone from The Wall Street Journal to the POTUS have honored Patel as a top influencer on the Internet and a top entrepreneur.
The online presence that Patel’s blogs enjoy in the business and marketing space was not built overnight, or even in six months. Quick Sprout took five years to see 100,000 monthly visits. Need more proof of the efficacy of consistency? KISSmetrics took two years and five posts a week to hit 500,000 monthly visitors.
Short-Term Content Marketing Does Not Exist
Here and now, let’s declare an end to short-term content marketing campaigns.
When you strip away all of the preconceived notions and marketing jargon, short-term content marketing reveals itself as an oxymoron. “Short-term” and “content marketing” are complete opposites. Put it on the list next to jumbo shrimp and sweet sorrow.
Quieting your instincts to desire immediate gratification is no easy feat. But, understanding what content marketing is at its core is a crucial step. It’s not about waiting anxiously for results, it’s about nurturing a relationship. Content marketing is about being a consistent source of value in a persons’ life. Doesn’t everyone deserve that?