"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." (Nelson Mandela)
The fears that most of us face on a day-to-day basis are hardly comparable to those faced by the late, former South African President. But his famous words tend to be applied to a myriad of situations, and the point remains: often, fears must be faced.
So what are you afraid of?
Perhaps you’re terrified of spiders; maybe you break out in a cold sweat at the mere mention of an elevator; or have nightmares about public speaking.
But that’s for another post. Here, we’re talking about B2B content marketing.
Perhaps you’re worried you’re not good enough to take on the task at hand; maybe you think you’ll never be able to produce the amount of valuable content your organisation needs; or you have more deep-seated anxieties about making a fool of yourself.
It’s time to cast off the albatross and take on your fears.
1. We won’t produce enough content
Yes, you need to create content consistently - and blogs, eBooks, podcasts, videos and the like all take time to bring to fruition. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the mere thought of achieving these goals while also keeping on top of your current workload.
But you only need to take small steps to begin with. Aim to write one post every two weeks; then up it to one a week. The more you write, the easier it becomes. And, while it’s good to stick to a schedule as much as possible, don’t beat yourself up too much if you slip behind on occasion. Just get writing again.
The responsibility doesn’t have to fall to one person, either. There will probably be one or two obvious choices, but even those people you wouldn’t consider "writers" in the traditional sense may have lots to contribute. From the head of sales who knows your product or service inside out, to the board member who understands the wider challenges facing your organisation and the industry as a whole, your company likely has more content writers than you might think.
And, of course, there’s always the option of outsourcing. Why not read my previous post on choosing an agency to work with if you’re considering going down this route.
2. We won’t sell our product or service
Something that many people question when they first embark on a content marketing strategy is the fact that they’re not talking about themselves - at least not in top of the funnel content.
Instead of directly discussing your product or service, you should be producing educative and valuable material that addresses the needs and problems of your audience. Of course, what you write will be related to what you sell - but only indirectly.
Take the now almost legendary story of Marcus Sheridan. The economic crash of 2008 hit his Virginia swimming pool business, River Pools and Spas, hard. He knew he needed to do something - so he started creating content.
Sheridan’s company sells fiberglass pools, but he didn’t just write about how great they are - he wrote posts that would help people who were looking to purchase any kind of swimming pool, and he was honest about the drawbacks of fiberglass pools.
The result? River Pools and Spas more than recovered from the downturn, and its website now receives over 500,000 visitors a month.
The point is, if you provide useful information that responds to your customers interests, people will naturally gravitate towards your product or service. People want to buy from companies that really know their stuff and aren’t afraid to admit their failings as well as their successes.
3. We’ll look stupid
This is a fear in and of itself, but it is usually interlinked with people’s other fears about content marketing. Indeed, what if you do look stupid?
Well, isn’t that a risk we take in all walks of life? And, in any case, if you take the time to do your research and invest in your content, this simply won’t be the case. But, first, you need to break out of your comfort zone.
Writing on his blog, Seth Godin says: "It's okay to be nervous. Instead of fighting that anxiety, dance with it. Welcome it. Relish it. It's a sign you're on to something."
He adds: "Use your fear like fuel."
So, fear can be a good thing. Embarking on a content marketing journey should not be undertaken lightly and it's good to have some concerns. But problems arise when we let these stop us from doing what we have set out to do. Being brave isn't about never being scared; it's about having the strength and the belief to face your fear head on - and do it anyway.