Content marketing takes time. It requires consistency, persistence, and patience. You have to produce compelling content and do the work of connecting. There’s no short cut, and there’s no way to fake your way through it.
I understand that you’re impatient. I am too. But unless you are well-established already, content marketing is your only option. I don’t take this as a limitation — I think of it as liberating. One more decision that I don’t have to make. I know that it’s not worth it to spend money on print advertising, radio spots, or press releases. I can grow my audience organically. For free.
Well, it’s not free, of course. It’s going to cost you time and effort. But the organic growth of a deeper connection with your audience is worth it. In fact, it might even surpass the kind of impact you get with traditional marketing and advertising.
The Content Marketing Curve
From my experience in content marketing, growth looks like this. It always starts slow, then begins to accelerate:
Why? For the same reasons that it always happens.
- Your writing’s good enough to attract the attention of an influencer.
- Those influencers share with their respective audiences.
It’s the only way to see growth of that sort. And it’s the only way to grow an audience that cares about you and your brand.
You still need to “feed” this growth with consistent input, but some of the effort will be transferred to your audience instead. They will do some of the work for you, carrying your message and advocating for you. You’ll start to see a self-replicating pattern.
More Lasting Results than Traditional Marketing
Compare that to traditional marketing campaigns:
The primary goal of advertising is awareness, not trust. You broadcast your message to as many people as you can, in the hopes that someone will stop and take notice. If it works, you get a huge spike in awareness, followed by a sharp decay. It’s a strategy that still works, but 1) you’re going to have to pay for access to a captive audience (think TV commercials or print ads in magazines), and 2) you’re going to get a very small conversion rate. Most people have learned to tune out ads. When was the last time you acted on the basis of an ad?
Organic Growth and the Laws of Nature
The cool thing is that the content marketing curve will look like any other population growth curve:
Like the content marketing curve, it will start off slow, then once you reach critical mass, it will accelerate. This is because members of the population will start to spread the idea to one another. Sometimes that “idea” can be virus or some other infectious disease. It will show a rapid, geometric growth rate while the conditions are favorable. Then, at some point, the growth will slow again. Every population has a saturation point. Building your audience is no different. There are only so many people who are interested in the same things you are.
The limit may be 10 thousand or 10 million, but you will reach a saturation point. How does that make you think about how you treat your audience? It makes you want to maximize each relationship, as much as you can. That requires trust. And you have to earn that trust.
Is it worth it? You have to decide that for yourself. How much is an audience worth to you? How much do you need a readership?
If you are building a business, an audience is your greatest asset. Once you’ve earned the attention of an audience and built up their trust in you, you are in a position of power. You can do something with that attention and trust. It’s a precious commodity, of course. Trust is hard to earn, but easy to lose.
To me, it’s worth it. It’s empowering. It’s encouraging. It’s all possible — if you are just willing to do the work.
For a peek behind the curtain to see some actual data from my content marketing efforts, please see the complete post here on my site: http://michaelboezi.com/content-marketing-curve.
Michael Boezi is a writer, musician, and advisor, specializing in helping writers and other entrepreneurs grow an audience using a content strategy.