The Ultimate Long Game, Content Marketing Demands Its Own Mindset Too
When transitioning from outbound to inbound-led marketing, attitudes need to change as well
Inbound marketing is my new favorite thing.
For the past year, instead of sending cold emails to keep my pipeline full, I’ve been blogging, podcasting, and video-ing my way to lead generation instead. Attraction rather than disruption. You’ve probably heard the spiel before.
Learning content marketing requires one skillset. But one lesson that is often left off the curriculum is what to do about mindset.
Because when transitioning to marketing like a hare (outbound) to marketing like a tortoise (inbound) attitudes and expectations also need to change in order to avoid disappointment. Otherwise one risks becoming an “are we there yet?” marketer.
Here are a few shifts I’ve been trying to implement in order to more fully embrace the new way of marketing.
Expect Results To Come Slowly
This one is obvious but merits mentioning anyway.
Inbound marketing, and content marketing, isn’t about getting results in the here and now.
Rather, content marketing is the ultimate long game.
Whether you’re putting out writing on your own blog, Medium, or distributing it over social feeds, there’s an inevitable time lag between when you engage in the process of creating content and when you start actually seeing results from it in the form of inbound leads.
- People are busy and tend to sift through their social media feeds slowly. It may take a while before your social post will even begin reaching target audiences.
- The internet is an increasingly crowded place; therefore, getting discovered through competitive keywords gets progressively harder as the internet continues to grow.
- Onsite SEO, which assists discoverability, tends to be developed slowly.
- Search engines don’t index new content immediately and there’s a lag between when you hit the publish button and when that piece of content is indexed in Google.
- Reputations — which depend upon human as well as technological factors — are developed slowly too. If you’re aiming for discoverability through social networks, audiences don’t develop overnight. But once you’ve got the ball rolling, it becomes easier to get subsequent posts seen. I like the static friction analogy. Getting the call rolling is harder than keeping it that way.
Realize That Content Creation Volume Is A Leading Indicator
Leading vs Lagging Metrics
Are your managers operating as company doctors or coroners?
In business, we commonly talk about the difference between leading and lagging metrics and KPIs.
When we’re engaging in content marketing, we need to transition through three stages:
- Firstly we create the content. This is the hard graft of sitting down to write the post or create the status.
- Next, we wait for people to read the content. This is the most dangerous part of the content creation process because it’s when we’re most likely to give up on the whole enterprise in exasperation. “I spent a whole week writing blog posts and nobody’s even read them!” you might think.
- Finally — hopefully — people discover and engage with our content and we move them through our marketing funnel.
The takeaway from the above: when it comes to content creation, effort (and writing) is a leading indicator. There’s a gap between when we put in the work and when we reap the results. Patience is therefore a vital part of the inbound mindset.
Realize That Content Creation Is A Leading Indicator
When it comes to monitoring the effectiveness of your content creation process, chasing after short term metrics can be a dangerously temping business.
The Dangers of Chasing After Social Engagement Metrics
In a world drowning in data, we’re also swimming in noise. Are most social engagement metrics simply part of that?
If you’re watching how many likes your posts get the moment they’re published, then there’s a chance that you’re also missing the medium to long term dynamics that are really shaping how you’re doing at developing an audience.
Becoming a content marketer requires stepping back just a little from the precipice. Give your content time to breath and percolate through feeds. Then come back and assess what’s working and what’s not. Measuring things on a monthly rather than daily basis is often therefore the better approach.
Becoming an inbound-first organization requires more than just writing content. You also need to get into a different mindset.
You can start by realizing that:
- It’s not going to work overnight
- Effort is a leading indicator that precedes success
- Getting lost in the noise of short term metrics can be distracting and dangerous