It's 2019! It seems that everyone and their dog's Instagram account is doing content marketing. Why write about content marketing strategy for absolute beginners at all?
Too many mature companies still don't practice any form of content marketing. What's worse, available learning resources aren't making it easy for them to start. We are going to fix that.
Here's our manifesto and the reason why we believe this knowledge is missing in 2019:
(Scroll down to read the details about each point)
- Our 2019 research shows that 38% of mature B2B companies don't use content marketing. They're not even on level one: they're on level zero. The needs of those companies are underserved and ignored; we are going to reach them and teach them.
- Most learning resources aren't suitable for absolute beginners. They assume that learners have enough resources and prior experience. Their advice is too demanding, sets the wrong expectations, and primes absolute beginners for failure.
- There are four levels of content marketing mastery, and beginners should not skip levels. Good content marketing is hard, and we fear that too many beginners give up too soon because they're practicing content marketing activities which are too advanced for them.
Table of Contents for the Entire Article Series
- Why Content Marketing Strategy for Beginners? (this article)
- Definitions of Basic Terms
- Four Levels of Content Marketing Mastery: an Introduction
- The Three Content Marketing Chasms and What It Takes to Cross Them
- Comparing the Four Levels of Content Marketing Mastery
- Six Elements of Content Marketing Strategy
- Beginner's Strategy on One Sheet of Paper
- Content Pieces
- Rules for Writing Content
- Which Types of Content You Should Publish on Your Business Website
- Content Creation Process
- Content Calendar
We've obviously just begun working on the series. As we add a new article, a link to it will appear above.
We're Writing This for Absolute Beginners. Are You One?
- At the moment, you're not publishing anything regularly on your business website. There are no news, no articles, no blog posts, no updates. Your website may contain a news page, but it's been abandoned for years.
- You're a business owner who never writes articles. Even when you do, you do it once every blue moon, and that embarrasses you.
- You think you're bad at writing. You think your writing won't generate business leads. You're great at thinking quality thoughts about life, universe, and everything, but when it comes to putting thoughts on paper, you'd rather run away and hide.
- Online learning resources intimidate you. It seems like everything has been written for bigger companies with deeper pockets.
- You want to start a blog / news section on your website, but you don't know where to begin. You don't want to embarrass yourself - again.
- You once tried content marketing, but you were frustrated by the lack of results. You gave up and concluded that it's just not worth it.
If you fit any of the above, welcome to a better resource for learning content marketing!
Learning Objectives (What You Get by Reading Our Stuff)
We promise to upgrade you with the following knowledge and skills:
- Defining and understanding content, content marketing, content marketing strategy
- Identifying which of the four levels you belong to, depending on your skills and resources
- Understanding why content marketing has been failing you so far, and how to fix that
- Understanding and accepting your current limits without being frustrated by them
- Recognizing when you're ready to start practicing content marketing on a higher level
- Ways to start with content marketing without doing any of the writing yourself
- What should a content marketing strategy for beginners look like, written on one sheet of paper
- Six elements of the content marketing strategy (goal, audience, message, content, channels, process)
- How to implement content marketing strategy on a beginner level
- How to define a realistic goal for your content marketing
- How to strategically think about the audience you're writing for, without breaking your brain
- Which messages you should use in your content to succeed as a beginner
- Two simple rules for writing basic content pieces for your business website
- Learn to write the 10+ easiest website content types
- Which online channels you should use to promote your content
- How to organize a solid content creation process
- How to use a content marketing editorial calendar (a glorified spreadsheet, really)
Our Article Series Will Be Different. Here's What You Can Expect
Our only goal is to set you on a path of success. Stay on it and it will ultimately lead you to becoming a prolific, confident content marketer.
We mean it when we say 'for absolute beginners'. We start with the simplest lessons, the easiest steps, the lowest hanging fruit. You won't have to think too hard to follow our articles, and we won't exhaust you with complexity.
We're writing for a content 'team' of one. If all you want to do is start writing website content, we'll help you with that. You won't have to hold meetings, conduct research, or talk to other people. It's just you, and you is enough.
Don't get scared by the word 'strategy' in the title. You will be given a cookie-cutter strategy for beginners which you can implement without customizing it much.
We'll give you exact instructions on a silver platter: we'll tell you what you need to do, how much of it, when, how often, where, and with whom. On this level, this is desirable. What you will be doing won't be unique or special, but that's exactly what you need as a beginner.
Learning strategic content marketing here won't take too much of your time. On a beginner level, you will be required to commit to very little. In fact, we'll even show you how to start with content marketing without even having to do any content writing yourself!
There will be plenty examples from B2B company websites. We'll avoid using examples from websites of well-known software companies / startups / tech unicorns everybody else is writing about online, to which we suspect you don't relate too much.
There will be no complex tools to learn and no expensive software to install. If you know how to use Microsoft Office-like apps, you'll be fine.
Give us early feedback and we'll use it. Comment, ask questions, add your suggestions on Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook, and we'll update our articles with what's bothering you the most. (In fact, your feedback might encourage us to prioritize your chosen topic over another. Please don't be shy, talk to us: we're just like you, struggling with content creation every day.)
About That 2019 Research of Ours: 38% of B2B Companies Don't Practice Any Content Marketing
In October 2015, we published an original research of marketing effectiveness of 189 B2B websites. We focused on export-oriented companies which offered their products and services internationally. We were analyzing what kind content they kept on their websites and paid special attention to content essential to influencing customers.
We learned that 45,5% of companies did not even have an articles / news / blog section on their website.
In March 2019, three and a half years later, we revisited all of those companies to see if anything changed. What we found was this:
- 17 companies (9% of the sample) did not exist anymore or their website was gone
- when you exclude those 17 companies and re-evaluate the rest of the sample, it turns out that 38% of the companies still had no articles / news / blog section.
That's 7% improvement in three and a half years. Not completely bad.
Still, 38% of the companies don't practice any content marketing whatsoever, which means:
- Nobody in those companies wrote a single news piece for the website, let alone an educational blog post.
- Some of those companies were big companies, and some of them were IT companies (who should know better).
- Executives in those companies don't know about the advantages of content marketing. That's too bad, because content marketing grows more popular every year.
Our own experience with clients confirms our findings. In our career of almost two decades, we've worked with many experienced, profitable, reputable companies who never published a single word on their business website. That's called leaving a zero digital footprint.
We don't blame anyone for not using content marketing. Content marketing truly and practically is hard. It gets harder every year: leaders in your field have huge marketing departments. While their content creators seem to churn out one epic content piece after another, you are still struggling to find the time to write one average news piece.
What's Wrong With Content Marketing Resources Online
The internet is not a friendly place for absolute beginners. Yes, your internet connection gives you access to the sum of human knowledge, but this knowledge is almost never categorized, tagged, filtered, or organized by level of expertise. You will break a sweat until you find materials suitable for your needs.
Almost all high-ranking online resources speak to experienced content marketers. They teach you how to publish high-quality articles which attract a ton of new customers and generate so much future demand for your solutions that you can safely cancel all the ads you're currently buying. Of course you want what they promise, but is it realistic?
These high-ranking materials are excellent (for us advanced folks), but inappropriate for beginners because they teach too much at once:
- They assume more resources than you have available. For example, do you know your content marketing team should consist of a strategist, several writers, an editor, and a content manager? And you're just one person! I'm not scared, you're scared.
- They assume too much prior experience with content creation. For example, most online resources simply skip the beginner level where you learn how to write a decent news piece. They assume that you've already published a hundred of those, that you're ready to start writing insightful educational articles, and that you're totally capable of publishing one of those every week. Everyone else, struggling to write an occasional corporate announcement, is left behind.
- They assume you know what's realistically possible to achieve with content as a beginner. These materials will be too demanding for you, they will set the wrong expectations, and they will prime you for failure.
Why Beginners Have Problems With Content Marketing
What's so hard about content marketing? Everything.
First, writing itself is hard. Not everyone is a natural writer or has had enough writing practice. Still, modern marketing requires that you become a publishing company. Either embrace content marketing or perish into oblivion.
Next, content marketing is hard because you're supposed to know how to write well and persuade your customers to buy from you. Persuading with content is a skill in a league of its own.
And finally, strategic content marketing is the hardest part. When you're making baby steps, strategic thinking does not come naturally. However, if you tried to get advice on content marketing strategy for beginners, you'd have a hard time finding it online. Most online strategy advice has been written for content marketers we'd put on an intermediate level or higher.
When you don't have the content marketing gene, you'll most likely fail:
- You'll bite off more than you can chew with your content marketing activities,
- You'll accept unrealistic expectations which will sabotage your otherwise solid progress, and
- You'll set unachievable goals which will frustrate you to the point of giving up.
We believe you totally deserve to succeed with content marketing, and we believe we have the recipe for doing so. In the upcoming articles, you'll learn that there are four levels of content marketing mastery and that beginners should, well, not skip the beginner level:
- Level zero: pre-content companies
- Level one: beginners
- Level two: intermediate practitioners
- Level three: advanced content marketers
We'll modify your genetic makeup by editing in the content marketing gene. This article series is sort of like CRISPR for your DNA. If you acquire the content gene, and if you create enough opportunities for the new gene to express itself, we promise that you can one day become a content marketing powerhouse.
Which Article We're Working on Next
- [ARTICLE] 2015 Research of Marketing Effectiveness of 189 B2B Websites, logit.net
- [INTERACTIVE CHART] Google Trends' search results for the 'content marketing' keyword, trends.google.com
- [VIDEO] How CRISPR works, explained in two minutes, youtube.com