“You know what keeps most of our content from attaining epic status, don't you?
Our fear of looking foolish. Of negative responses on social media. Or, worse, of getting hardly any visits, social shares, leads, or sales from our best efforts.”
Hunter Boyle, Content Marketing Institute (CMI)
It's that time of year when that dreaded word starts to do the rounds: "resolution". What do you plan to do (or not do) once the clock strikes midnight on 31 December? It's all rather exhausting. But, when it comes to your content marketing plan for next year, there's one resolution that's well worth making: to let go of your fear.
Ask yourself: how many times have you shied away from creating a piece of content because you didn't think you could pull it off, or because it was a bit too "out there"? How many times have you delayed publishing your work because it's not quite polished enough? And how many times have you doubted your expertise – or even held back that expertise for worry of giving away too much?
In 2017, it's time to believe in your content marketing skills.
Fear 1: We can't tackle that topic
Whether because you think you don't know enough or because you don't believe you can add anything to the debate, the fear of certain topics is a common one. But, generally, this fear is unfounded.
Writing for Business 2 Community, John W Hayes says: "Let's face facts, if your marketing activities don't cause a stir in your own stomach, how can you expect them to whip up ongoing excitement in your target audience?"
In tackling topics that you've previously avoided, you are more likely to make an impact. If you're skirting around a subject, that's a clear sign that it's important to your business – and, therefore, you need to create content about it.
So, that topic, you've been avoiding? Face it head on and own it.
Fear 2: We need more time
It's all too easy to labour over a piece of content, questioning whether it's good enough to publish. If you were to just tweak that sentence here, flesh out that point there, the list goes on – and, before you know it, you're paralysed by uncertainty, or you've missed the boat altogether.
Of course, you don't want to publish poor-quality work but, sometimes, "good enough" really is ok. Your audience doesn't care if your work isn't rendered in perfect prose; they are more concerned about the information they can glean from it.
Take the time to get across your most important points, but don't be afraid to draw a line under your work and hit publish.
Fear 3: We're giving too much away
This is a big fear for many companies, particularly in the B2B sector. Giving away information – your "secret sauce" - about your products and services can seem counter-intuitive. It can leave you feeling vulnerable and open to "attack" from your competitors.
Writing for Convince & Convert, Jay Baer outlines five reasons why there's no need to be anxious, including: "Admit it, your secret sauce is just Thousand Island dressing." He writes: "I have owned or operated five marketing firms, and have consulted for dozens more […]. Yes, they all have strengths, and specific services they provide disproportionately well. But a process, or way of doing marketing that is truly unique and unlike what anyone else does or has thought of previously? Not a chance. There are only so many ways to skin a cat, and everyone in your competitive set is carrying the same set of knives."
The point is, there are very few organisations out there doing something entirely unique. That's not a criticism; it's reality - and it's ok. Your potential customers likely already know what your organisation does – but they want to know more about how well you do it and how you can serve their particular needs. It's nigh-on-impossible to convey this if you don't give a little bit away.
Let go of the fear
If you let fear hold you back when planning your content marketing, you lose out on the opportunity to form meaningful connections with the people that matter most to your business. And you forgo the chance to show your audience how you can solve their problems and alleviate their fears.
Writing for Copyblogger, Beth Hayden says: "We have to be willing to put our ideas, opinions, and deepest fears out there, so we can truly connect with our audiences. Content that isn't vulnerable – that doesn't scare us, just a little bit – isn't necessarily going to draw a huge audience of raving fans. It's not going to get shared on social networking sites thousands of times. It's not going to really impact the world."
With more and more content vying for all of our attention, it's more important than ever to step out of your comfort zone and do something a little bit different. In 2017, per the title of Susan Jeffers' famous book: "Feel the fear and do it anyway."