You have to take the long view with content marketing, allowing time for your strategy to develop, your brand to build authority, and your sales cycle to play out.

When you undertake a new content marketing program, you’re making a big investment. So it makes sense that you want to start seeing immediate results. But it’s important to understand from the get-go that content marketing doesn’t really work like that. Yes, you’ll start seeing incremental results within the first few months. But what we tell our clients is that things aren’t really going to start cooking with gas until the 12-18 month mark.

I’ve written before about why you shouldn’t give up on content marketing after a short period of time. While you’ll probably see growth in web traffic, improved social reach, and generally better engagement metrics like time on page, you’re not likely to see new leads or sales to speak of in the first few months after instituting a content marketing strategy.

And that can be hugely frustrating. But the key is understanding that content marketing isn’t a gimmick, and it’s not a short-term strategy. It’s a long-term solution that, if allowed to germinate and grow for the long haul, helps you build brand awareness, grow your audience, and generate new leads and sales. When it comes to content marketing, your goal is to be the tortoise, not the hare.

Content marketing is not a short-term solution

In fact, rushing your relationship with content marketing is one of the worst things you can do. Let’s talk about why that is.

First off, content marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to develop a strategy that works for your business, and that doesn’t happen overnight. When we first engage with a client at Fronetics, we generally take 30-45 days to do an in-depth dive into the company’s data to develop a custom strategy that aligns with the client’s specific business goals. It feels exhaustive at times, but it always ends up paying off.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 11% of companies without a documented content marketing strategy find their efforts successful, compared to 60% of companies with a strategy in place. Click To Tweet

Keep in mind that only 11% of companies without a documented content marketing strategy find their efforts successful, compared to 60% of companies with a strategy in place. And that number rises to 86% when the company designates someone to lead the strategy.

The bottom line? Skipping this step to rush to results will pretty much ensure that your efforts won’t be worth it.

Building trust

In addition to the time it takes to develop a strategy, becoming an authority — and earning the trust and loyalty of your audience — takes time. Your goal is to be a consistent source of information and value, building your brand as an expert in the area.

It goes without saying that this doesn’t happen overnight. But it’s extremely well worth the effort and the patience. Remember that the average B2B buyer consumes between two and five pieces of content before making a purchase decision. If you can position your business as the premier expert on the subject by having the best, most informative, most helpful content available, you’ll have a leg up in the buyer’s decision.

Let the sales cycle play out

Once your strategy is documented and in place, and you begin to create and curate consistent, well-researched, high-quality content, there’s also the process of letting your sales cycle run its course. You need to allow your target audience time to find you and complete thorough research about you and your competitors before making a decision.

After all, content marketing can’t shorten your sales cycle. But lead nurturing with content can keep moving your prospects down the sales funnel. And content can help your sales team close deals. But you can’t expect a buyer to read your first blog post today and make a big purchase tomorrow. That’s just not realistic.

I cannot urge you enough: Don’t give up on content marketing before you give it time work. Hang in there long enough for your initial investment to pay off, and don’t be afraid to adjust your strategy along the way. If you stick with content marketing, it will generate those leads and sales you’re looking for.

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