Attending parades, drinking Guinness, wearing shamrocks; every year, many of us partake in traditions—some historical, others silly—in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, whether we’re Irish or not. Although St. Patrick’s Day celebrates a man who was in fact not Irish (Patrick was actually a British nobleman who was captured by Irish pirates), the day is nonetheless dedicated to the luck of the Irish.

It’s always fun to press your luck, especially in a low risk environment. For example, earlier I shared a blog about how fun it can be to try your luck at the lottery. This year, people paid $2 per ticket for a chance to win a record-breaking $1.6 billion jackpot. In this situation, it makes sense to take a chance and go for it.

st. patrick's

Your company’s marketing department, on the other hand, is not the right environment for a risky try-your-luck approach. Just consider that 85 percent of companies say the pressure to measure and prove marketing ROI is only increasing. In most cases, there’s simply no room for, or budget to waste on, error. For small businesses that lack a robust marketing department (or a marketing department in general), a proven marketing strategy becomes all the more imperative.

With a solid plan and support from the right professionals, you won’t ever need luck to accomplish your key objectives. Any company, regardless of size and/or experience, can near-guarantee a successful content marketing strategy with the following:

Time

Just like any commitment, a successful content marketing strategy requires time in order to nurture, strengthen and grow. If you have a dedicated marketing department, this may be in the form of weekly team meetings, frequent collaboration sessions or company get-togethers in which various departments (i.e. sales, HR, marketing) work to align their campaigns. If you don’t have a dedicated marketing team, be prepared to pay a professional for their time. Remember: you always get what you pay for. In other words, if you’re hoping to pay someone $10 an hour in order to cut costs, you can expect lower quality work.

Money

To this end, if you don’t have the time, you’ll need money. Too many companies today are more concerned with trimming financial fat than maintaining a reputable and respectable brand. Remember: not all content is equal. There’s low-quality content—that is, content that is produced just for the sake of putting out content, regardless of how it is received—and then there’s high-quality content. This content resonates with readers, is highly engaging and shareable, and is custom crafted for a targeted audience based on predictive insights and analytics. If you’re working with a limited budget, there are definitely ways that you can keep costs low while making progress with your strategy—for example, blog twice a month instead of once a week, or strive to release just one whitepaper a year verses one a quarter. In other words, take baby steps. Also check out this blog for some great ways to repurpose your existing content in order to maximize your content marketing budget.

Consistency

A successful strategy is a consistent one; your strategy needs to be consistent in order to build momentum and, over time, make a lasting impact on prospects and customers. This means regularly posting across your company’s various social platforms and starting conversations with other thought leaders; blogging according to a consistent, pre-determined schedule; and following through with creating other assets like case studies or eBooks to maintain a cadence. Again, if you’re a small business owner who is single-handedly managing your marketing strategy and don’t have time to commit, commit to finding the perfect professional who can meet your specific needs.

Knowledge

While you aren’t expected to know the granularities of SEO or the specifics of how email automation platforms work, it would be wise to brush up on some general content marketing knowledge—especially if you’re going to be collaborating with a contracted or outsourced professional. Remember: in onboarding an outside professional, you’re trusting that person to do the job that he or she was hired to do. Let them do their job so that you can get back to doing yours, whatever that may be. The point here is to not let any general knowledge you acquire mislead you into thinking you can either run your strategy independently or that you are now wiser than the person you’ve hired to do the job. I understand this is a harsh pill to swallow; however, at the end of the day, the least successful partnerships are those in which employers are distrusting of their outsourced hire, continually stifle their creative vision, or are overly demanding.

Willingness

Above all, perhaps the most important requirement for content marketing success is willingness. You have to be willing to commit to whatever is necessary as necessary for your strategy to gain traction and take off. No matter how you slice it, the fact remains the same.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate St. Patty’s Day this year, be safe and make it a good one. Then get back to making sure your company’s content marketing strategy is on the right foot!

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