If there’s one thing that I find myself saying over and over again, it’s this: “Content marketing is not a path to overnight success.”
Obviously, I believe in the power of content marketing to help build companies. I know, first hand, that it’s an incredibly effective strategy for building your audience, growing traffic, and generating sales, leads, and conversions.
But I also know, first hand, that content marketing takes time and consistent execution to pay off. And those willing to put in the time, money and energy can expect to see results.
It’s an investment, and a smart one at that.
As with any good investment, content marketing has two critical components:
- Upfront cost
- Long-term dividends
This isn’t just a metaphor. It’s really how content marketing works.
Related: The Future of Content Marketing
Upfront costs of content marketing
Content marketing isn’t easy, and it isn’t cheap. It takes time and it costs money.
Most importantly, though, it takes a willingness to bear upfront costs for the promise of a big payoff down the road.
When startups fail at content marketing, it’s usually because they try to skip past or minimize the upfront costs. This is understandable—most startups have limited resources. But the initial investment is critical to getting the long-term results you want and expect from content marketing.
It’s tempting for many companies to try to “jumpstart” their content marketing by going out and hiring a cheap freelance writer. Get them to crank out a couple of articles and start publishing. And away you go. Right?
Unfortunately, this is not a smart way to go about content marketing. Before you do anything, you need a clear strategy.
You need to understand what goal you’re trying to accomplish, the audience you’re trying to reach, and how you can reach them.
Without a proper investment in content, you can’t expect a big return.
In fact, the opposite is true. Many companies that invest less in upfront strategy see slow or no growth as a result, which means that even though the investment may have been smaller, there was little or no payback.
For most startups, it only makes sense to fully commit to doing content marketing in a smart and strategic way. “Cheap” options will just end up wasting money.
If content marketing is an investment, then we should expect it to pay off over time. And that’s exactly how it works—when it’s done the right way.
While content marketing may not produce immediate results for your business, with consistent strategy and execution, you should see both cumulative and compounding results.
The content that you publish on day one will drive traffic from the day it is published and continue to drive traffic from then onward. And each subsequent piece you publish builds upon this base.
As with any investment, the returns you can expect to achieve from content marketing are a function of investment you make (or the growth rate you achieve) and the amount of time that you let the investment build.
The faster you grow (and the earlier you start), the sooner you will see big results.
If we analyze a few different growth rates, we can see how the power of compounding growth works to generate a huge amount of traffic within just a year’s time:
|WoW Growth Rate||Weekly Traffic to Start||Weekly Traffic in 3 Months||Weekly Traffic in 12 Months|
As you can see, while the difference in growth rate is clear early on, the real difference comes from the long-term growth that compounds every single week. In this example, a 2x growth rate (3 percent versus 7 percent) will result in 7x more traffic after just one year.
This teaches us a valuable lesson about content marketing (and investing). Start early, stay consistent, and see results.
Any time I am talking to a client or a potential client, this is exactly how I frame the investment in content marketing. It’s not a quick fix for growing your business.
You may hit some short-term home runs and drive a lot of traffic to the site, but the real value comes from a long-term investment and building sustainable, organic growth.
If it’s done well, it will pay off for years and years to come.