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February 25, 2016
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March 29, 2016

How to Avoid Content Ramp-up Brain Freeze

Avoiding content marketing ramp-up brain freeze

Lots of companies are jumping into content marketing lately, especially in the B2B space. If your company has decided to try its hand at content marketing, I’d like to say congratulations, and I’m sorry. Congratulations because content marketing can be a great tool to earn and retain customers. I’m sorry because it can be hard to know where to start.

And if your company is starting its first forays into content marketing, you may find yourself in the middle of a classic challenge—the content ramp-up.

A content ramp-up is when a company decides to dramatically increase the amount of content that it’s producing in a short amount of time.

Some companies may have dabbled in content before without seriously committing to it. Some companies may be starting from zero. Either way, if a little content is a good idea, a lot of content is a great idea right? Not necessarily. If you don’t keep the ramp-up in check, it can get out of control fast. And just like eating ice cream too fast will give you brain freeze, trying to ramp up content too fast can leave you with a major headache.

This headache can take many forms, from overspending, to problems demonstrating ROI, to customer confusion, to overworked employees, to general content ineffectiveness, and more.

 

Symptoms

Aside from a headache and the sneaking suspicion that your sudden rise in content production may not be doing everything it should, how can you tell you’ve got this particular content marketing ailment? Here are some common symptoms of content ramp-up brain freeze:

  • Lots of one-off pieces of content
  • Focus on production over planning
  • A scattershot approach to topics
  • A scattershot approach to tactics
  • Lack of clear goals and/or KPIs
  • Overspending, or substantial untracked spending
  • Lack of results tracking
  • No formalized content inventory

 

Causes

The content ramp-up is not the exclusive territory of misguided marketers. There are often good intentions at work with stumbles in execution causing the brain freeze. These are some of the most common reasons companies try to ramp up content marketing too fast:

  • Your company doesn’t know which content to produce and decides to try lots of things until something sticks
  • You work in a large company that feels like it should instantly have as big a footprint in content marketing as it does in other media (even though it has taken years to establish your footprint in those other media)
  • Your company thinks that content marketing works like traditional advertising in that throwing lots of budget and volume at it translates directly into lots of results
  • You’re in a space where your competitors have been doing content for a while and your company feels like it has to play catch up

 

Cures

Curing content ramp-up brain freeze may not be as easy as sipping on hot tea (a common brain freeze remedy), but there are plenty of things you can do to alleviate your content marketing headache.

  • Take the time to define the strategy for what you’re trying to accomplish before you start producing anything.
  • Take stock of what already exists. It may not be organized or well documented. You may have to go digging and lean on some company “tribal knowledge.” But you may have more than you realize.
  • See what content you can use as-is and what content you can update/adjust/repurpose.
  • Pick one or two tactics to start. It’s better to get good at a few tactics than to do poorly at lots of different tactics.
  • Pick one tract at a time and start at the beginning. Got three product lines? Don’t tackle them all at once. Start with one product line, and start with awareness phase, methodically creating cohesive content for the rest of the stages in the buyer’s journey before moving on to another product line.

 

Above all, have patience

Content ramp-up brain freeze happens the same way an ice cream-fueled brain freeze does—by taking on too much too fast. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about building long-term relationships with your audience so that when they need what you offer, they already know and trust you. It’s not a short-term transactional way of doing business. If you want people to just show up, pay up and leave all in one visit, you’re better off trying your hand at vending machines—which, if they happen to sell cold stuff, can give you a brain freeze, too.

Hal Werner
Hal Werner
Hal Werner is a Dallas-area content strategist, digital marketer and idea man area that loves bringing distinctive flavor and customer insight to every project.