Success control in content marketing: the one-eyed blind man.

Why do not companies invest in success control in content marketing? I want to start my blog post with a very striking parable:

You design a very nice flyer on which, say, you want to present your favorite recipes for your friends. After you put a lot of creativity and brains into the design, you are ready and give the command for printing. And that’s it. They do not care about your flyers anymore. You do not know if someone else takes it out of the printer and distributes it or if your lovingly designed recipes just end up in the trash! You’ve put valuable resources into this little recipe project, without checking whether your friends are interested and whether they like it. If in doubt, no one has read your prescriptions and you’ve wasted your time. But the really curious thing about our little story: you do this again and again!

Sounds absurd, but that’s exactly what the Digital Entrepreneurship Study 2015 of The Digital is about controlling the success of content marketing strategies in companies. Funds are to flow to integrate content marketing into the marketing strategies of the companies, but no funds should be invested in the success control.

Something is going wrong here!

On what fundamentals exactly do companies want to build their content marketing, if not over the traditional “trial and error” principle? Where would you like to start in order to optimize your strategies or to exclude ineffective ones? How do companies want to know what the target group likes? Or which way generates new leads, Facebook likes or actual sales? Is it the whitepaper or is it just the look behind the scenes? Or the last blog post on the corporate blog? Which platforms are suitable for the content and how often should they be made available and when? Nobody will know without adequate and continuous performance management!

Furthermore, the question arises on which basis these companies plan their content marketing campaigns? If you do not want to control if the target audience is attached to your ideas, then you may not even identify a target audience? Or what about the KPIs? Is there simply none? Why define content marketing metrics if you do not want to evaluate them to see them in a larger context? Success control in content marketing is mandatory!

The one-eyed among the blind

Anyway – it’s definitely not enough just to throw content into the ether! In order to be successful, content marketing also relies on the action-reaction principle. One could talk about a content marketing lifecycle that closes only when it’s clear what content marketing has brought the company. A successful content marketing lifecycle can be built by not simply starting, but by strategic content marketing, the goals set, operationalized and measurable and the Zielerreichungsgrad.

On the one hand, strategic content marketing consists of the content marketing strategy including all operationalized elements. On the other hand from operative content marketing, the practical implementation of the previously defined points in various content formats. This includes the ongoing provision and interpretation of analytical data and the readjustment when creating and promoting their own content. Successful content marketing is basically inconceivable without such performance management. Because it helps to find out what kind of needs the personas have and in what form they can be satisfied.

Basically, the result of the above-mentioned study is that all companies investing in continuous performance management will be a step ahead of the pass-the-buck!

Topic finding in the customer magazine – for beginners (and professionals)

Your web presence is up-to-date and mobile capabilities. The product catalog is up to date and professionally produced. But you have not dared to make a customer magazine yet? Although it should be a strategically important element in your communication. Why, as Heike Discher puts it in her blog post “What makes the print so valuable” convincing.

But you think too many reasons speak against a magazine. Because…

  • … we do not have enough topics for a magazine.
  • … our customers already know everything about us.
  • … we always have to tell the same thing.
  • … everything important is on the website and in the catalog.

If that’s your case, then I have good news for you: It’s not true! And I’ll show you step by step way.

Thesis 1: We do not have enough topics for a customer magazine.

If this objection were correct, there would be magazines in Germany neither at the kiosk nor in the companies. The fact is: in 2015, according to the Association of German Magazine Publishers ( VDZ ), around 1,600 consumer magazines were published. And almost 33 million Germans read magazines several times a week, reports the statistics portal statistic.

The Allensbacher Markt- und Werbeträgeranalyse (AWA) 2016 showed that interest in magazines also extends to corporate publications. Five of the ten fastest growing print magazines in Germany belong to this category, according to the specialist portal cpwissen.

But what distinguishes successful customer magazines? The business journalist and author Bettina Blaß sums it up with a buzzword: utility.

You create this value by focusing not on your product or service, but on the reader’s interest. Means: Do not choose your topics primarily from the point of view, which – superficially – helps your sales. Think about what is important and interesting for the reader.

At first glance this may be hard to swallow – after all, the magazine should help strengthen your business. But the reader knows no mercy: He is not interested in another advertising brochure. And what he does not care about, he puts aside.

But how do you find out what is important to the reader? How do you get to the topics?

A few suggestions:

  • Barbara Hallmann from the Deutscher Journalistenkolleg has a suggestion that is as simple as it is good: ask your family and your circle of friends and acquaintances. What would people like to know about your industry and your business?
  • Listen in to your business. Feel your customer advisors, the service team, the salespeople and hotline employees on the tooth: What do customers ask? What one wants to know interests many others as well.
  • Take a look at similar magazines and magazines – certainly those of the competitors! Read them critically with the glasses of an outsider, not an insider: What do you like, what not? What could be done better? What is missing? Here, too, ask outsiders for their opinion.
  • Do not think about the product “around the product”.
  • Set communication goals so as not to lose focus when selecting topics. Stephan Tiersch has explained in his two-part blog post “Why many communication goals are not” in detail how to proceed here.
  • Talk about people, not about machines – or if, then about people on the machines …
  • Whether they are PR or marketing colleagues or outsiders, they need people who stay on the ball, who regularly tap into topics and follow them on. Set up an editorial office to collect and coordinate contributions and ideas. How often the round comes together, of course, depends on how often your magazine should appear. A well-made magazine that comes out three times a year is better than one that appears every month but is bloodless.

Thesis 2: Our customers already know everything about us.

You know your industry, know about new products and background information. But your customer does not have this expertise. He does not have to. He does not want. He wants to have the secure feeling of being in good hands in your company, with your employees, your products or services. The magazine aims to create an emotional bond with the help of good stories.

How do you find these stories? The following questions will help you:

  • How is your product made? Let the reader look over your shoulder.
  • Are there any new trends? What do you make of it? Make an assessment. An important help for your customers. Because you are the expert.
  • What experiences have customers had with your company/products? Let her tell.
  • Who and how are your employees? The youngest, the oldest, the most dedicated …
  • Is the company socially engaged? In sports? For children? For nature?
  • How do you keep up with the training? Further education? Training?

Thesis 3: We can not always tell the same thing.

Themes never stop. Be it new technology, new developments, new trends: the topic may remain the same – but not the story. Staying on the ball is, therefore, a must for you or your editorial team.

A few tips on how to do this:

  • Google Alert, for example, keeps you up to date. Just enter a search term there. This research tool then sends you a notification by e-mail if there is something new about your term on the internet.
  • You can also rely on other search engines when searching for topics and content on the Internet. I admit: Google is probably our favorite search site. But changing perspective can sometimes be helpful. An overview of 25 search engines and how they work, for example, provides the magazine t3n.
  • When it comes to industry knowledge, specialist forums are suitable for topic search. When it comes to finding out what (potential) customers are saying, evaluating social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google + and more. helpful. Ideal, of course, if own channels are available. They offer the possibility of market research live.
  • How professionals, that is journalists, research topics, read in the blog article of Mechthild Wachter “Why Googling is still no research. “

Thesis 4: Everything important is on the website and in the catalog.

The magazine has a completely different task. It is more than another information channel. It should also entertain, provide stimulus and benefit, draw a picture of the company. Serve the reader in the magazine interesting, funny, curious, useful and human around your company, your products, your customers and employees, about trends and news.

“Print is perceived as more valuable than digital,” says Joe Pulizzi, founder of the – digitally oriented – Content Marketing Institute in Cleveland. Nevertheless, do not forget network print with the other channels. Many stories can be continued on the company website or on a specialized topic site or content hub, with links to more information, contact addresses, video and event photos, and so on. That’s how your magazine attracts attention, creates engagement – and ideally guides your readers to your website – and ultimately to your products or services.

Conclusion: there are topics. Especially if you have the courage to focus your magazine on your readers instead of seeing it as a better channel for advertising messages. Of course, it makes work to collect topics, sift and implement. But it’s worth the effort. If you run the magazine journalistically – and not sales -, use a living language, stay close to the reader and provide it with useful content, he will gladly reach for it.