A recent survey and infographic released by SEMRush and The Content Marketing Institute talks about content marketing challenges. While we agree with the findings, we also feel like the conclusions were written for big companies, and not at all helpful for small and mid-sized businesses. Frankly, if I were sitting at my old desk in mid-sized corporate America, I’d be shaking my head and thinking that I have a problem too big to fix without a big staff and a big budget.

So let’s boil this down.

Content Marketing Challenges

According to the infographic, content strategists struggle the most with “developing content pieces that resonate with our target audience.” Yep, we agree. We’ve seen the same thing in our own surveys as well as in the hundreds of conversations with have with marketers every month.

Many marketers have tons of content, but find out (the hard way) that a lot of that content just isn’t being read – because it’s NOT resonating with the target audience.

The conclusion reached in the infographic talked about “analysis of huge volumes of information” and looking at “competitors’ content that dominates the SERP,” and “access to consolidated data which can help to analyze what will be relevant to the audience.”

In other words, to solve this problem, the infographic would have us think that a marketer has to be a search engine wizard, a researcher, and a data analyst – or have the staff positions to cover all of those job descriptions. Most small and mid-sized businesses don’t have those capabilities on board. In fact, in many organizations, everything about marketing is done by a very small staff – one to three people, who have all they can do to keep up with email marketing, social media, writing blog posts, organizing and hosting events, and the 110 other tasks that marketers do every single day.

Hold on. Let’s simplify things a bit.

There are two things you can do to keep content marketing challenges – and this one in particular – at bay.

1. What’s your content strategy?

The very best thing to do is take a step back from what you’ve been doing and get a fresh perspective on the content you have, the audience you’re trying to attract, and the different ways you can track what your audience is truly interested in. Yes, I’m talking about a content strategy. A kick-butt, take-charge, no-kidding content strategy is NOT about what you want to say. It’s about what your audience – your perfect potential customers – want to hear. So the very first piece of any content strategy has got to be a tight definition of your perfect potential customer. Only with understanding that person can you create content that speaks to your target audience (and gets those people to do what you want them to do).

Can you do this on your own? Yes… though it’s hard because everyone is naturally “polluted” by their existing knowledge and the biases that result. For example, we did a content strategy for a company that does outsourced IT management and consulting. They were producing content about “IT transformation” and “business continuity.” Imagine their surprise when we shared with them that the only people using those terms are their competitors. Their audience was talking about things like “recovering from a flood” and “moving to the cloud.” See what I mean? Knowledge of what you do and your market and the biases that come with it can cause you to create content that speaks in YOUR language – not the language of your audience.

So yes, you want a content strategy. If you’re not comfortable, don’t have time, or don’t have help, we can help you. We’ve got the content strategy down to a science – which means it’s affordable for small and mid-sized businesses.

2. Listen to your audience

Listen to your leadsLook at the content you’re already providing. What is your audience reading? Which of your downloadable content pieces are they actually downloading? What events are they attending? What topics are they clicking on in your emails? Tracking this information in one place allows you to analyze and mine the data that your audience is providing. There’s no need to have a separate analytics platform, or a bunch of spreadsheets, or a data analyst on staff when you have a comprehensive view of each of the people on your list and what they’re doing already in your marketing automation platform. (If your current platform doesn’t do that, we happen to know one that does…)

When you see a blog post, for example, getting lots of traction with your perfect potential customers, ask yourself: what can I create that will take a person the next step? What will take a person one inch further along their journey? Is it a downloadable checklist? An assessment? An eBook? How can you expand the conversation with more content? That’s your pointer – when you can see what your audience is consuming, what’s the next logical thing to offer? That’s what you create next.

Overcome content marketing challenges with content that hits the mark

Hit the mark

The best thing about content is that you can (or should be able to) easily measure whether or not it is hitting the mark with your audience. If you don’t have a content strategy in place, look at how your current content is landing with your audience, and create one more piece of content that you can offer as a follow-up to something you already have that’s getting traction. See if that new piece of content is well-received. If yes, keep going. If no, revise or take a fresh look at the actions your leads are taking and create something different. (Sometimes only a small tweak is needed to engage your audience. In our example above, the same content worked when our client changed “business continuity” to “keep your business going in the face of a natural disaster.” See what I mean?)

Developing content pieces that resonate with your target audience doesn’t have to be complex. Take a fresh look at your content strategy – or get a content strategy if you don’t have one, and ensure you have the tools on hand to listen to your audience – your perfect potential customers – the people on your list.

If you’d like some help with figuring out where you are and what to do next, a good place to start might be with a call. We’ll do a quick review with you and offer some suggestions. No commitment on your part (except to the call itself) and no sales pitch from us. You can schedule time right now by clicking the button below.