Lee Odden

Content Marketing Fitness: Are You Ready to Integrate, Optimize and Activate?

Lee Odden on May 6th, 2019     Content Marketing

Content Marketing Fitness

I’ve always thought of content marketing as a fast paced, agile and high energy approach to engaging the modern buyer.

So why does so much of the B2B content marketing that’s out there feel sluggish, low energy and bloated?

eMarketer recently reported that B2B decision makers’ top issues with marketing content reveal that marketers are clearly “out of shape” when it comes to a focus on what’s most important. The top issues shared by B2B decision makers were that content is too fluffy, not relevant, not personalized, misleading, behind a form or hard to find.

For the marketers behind these issues, a quick look in the mirror makes it easy to see why: Bad habit strategy, low metabolism execution, overly processed tactics and sugar high shiny object software that doesn’t get used properly if at all.

I am sure you can see where I’m going with this metaphor.

What’s the solution? I can’t think of a better way to get back on track when your marketing is out of shape than with some good old marketing fitness.

This is a situation I can relate to literally, as a little over a year ago I was 70 pounds overweight and not in the best of health. I underwent a physical transformation reducing my pants size from 40 to 33 and breathing heavy walking to the fridge to regularly running 10k for fun.

From that transformation experience I learned two very important lessons:

  1. Content Marketing, like fitness, is a journey not a destination. I optimized myself with a better diet and regular exercise, not as a goal, but as change to my overall way of life.
  2. A physical transformation and a marketing transformation have numerous parallels.

When you break it down, the similarities to making a physical transformation and transforming organic content marketing are very similar:

  • Recognize there’s a challenge (understand your data)
  • Set goals (Map your KPIs)
  • Get help / learn how (hire, consult)
  • Make a plan: diet/exercise (tactical mix)
  • Get the right gear (software/process)
  • Consistent effort (operationalize best practices)
  • Be accountable, adaptable & optimize (same!)

To that end, here is a list of 10 core marketing exercises that are literally part of my current exercise effort, to get you focused on the marketing fundamentals so that you can better integrate, optimize and activate your content for success.

1. Jumping Jacks – Warm up with Customer Data

How many marketers just jump to it with their content marketing without any concrete data to support their approach? In the gym that’s a quick way to get injured and marketers not warming up with data are injuring the customer experience and ROI of their marketing.

2. The Sit-up: Strengthen Your Core with Strategy

A strong core is essential for just about any physical activity and yet, many people focus their attention on other specific areas. Strategy is obviously just as essential for content marketing but a surprising number of marketers do not have a documented content marketing strategy that includes a minimum of challenge/situation, audience insights, approach and goals.

3. The Plank: Optimize Your Core with KPIs

It’s not enough to work your code with sit-ups and a documented content marketing strategy. The goals need to be quantified and benchmarked with key performance indicator metrics.

4. Lunges: Create a Powerful Story

Lower body power is key and so is a powerful story behind your content marketing message. Customer insights are essential for identifying what story the brand needs to tell in order to deliver a relevant and inspiring content experience that serves customer information needs in a way that drives revenue goals.

5. Air Squats: Power Up the Content Mix

A great complement to the lunge are air squats, but quality not quantity is the key. The marketing mix is no different. Many marketers are trying to win the information overload game by creating as much content as possible. Customer insights and industry awareness should drive the right content type and format with the most effective channels for publishing and distribution.

6. Burpees – Boost Quality & Reach with Influencers

Few all around exercises elevate the heart rate as effectively as burpees. Activating relevant influencers and collaborators on your content can add expertise, credibility and additional distribution firepower when shared by experts who audiences trust.

7. The Pushup: Create & Publish Your Content

As a foundational upper body exercise, a well executed push-up delivers great return on effort. The same is true with content creation and publishing. Attention to detail and execution is everything, especially when complemented by the appropriate variety: incline push ups, close hands, wide hands, clap push up and so on. There are a variety of options for content publishing and brands do not need to be limited to the corporate website.

8. The Pull Up: Promotion That Won’t Quit

Starting out, pull ups were my kryptonite because I never really did them. However, a stronger back and biceps were some of my goals and pull ups are great for that. I’ve found that promotion is content marketing kryptonite for a lot of marketers for the same reason – they don’t really do it beyond social and ads. Content promotion is essential for connecting your investment in quality content with an audience that is interested and ready to act.

9. Chin Up – Build Biceps by Measuring & Optimizing

One of the best exercises for your biceps is the chin up. Not everyone can do them right away, so it takes practice. The same is true with content marketing measurement and performance optimization. Ongoing analysis and refinement is essential for continued upward and to the right results progression.

10. The Run: Repurposed Content Goes the Distance

If you really want the most out of a fitness transformation effort, some kind of cardio should be in your plan. My favorite is a solid run because it burns calories efficiently, builds endurance and just feels amazing (afterward). Funny enough, I feel the same way about content repurposing. Planned reuse of content is definitely efficient, it extends the value of your initial content investment and seeing the added impact from the effort just feels great!

How fit is your content marketing?

Of course you could throw in more or different steps, but for those marketers looking beyond some kind of “magic pill” solution, these are core content marketing fitness exercises that can get you back on track and build a strong foundation for more advanced efforts.

Who knows, if you stick with it, maybe you can begin to transform your content marketing operation into a lean, mean ROI generating machine.

Summer is upon us but if you are doing some Fall marketing conference planning, I will be talking about this topic at Content Marketing World: Content Marketing Fitness – 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body in September and I hope to see you there!

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.