Content Marketing Isn’t a Marathon—It’s a Relay Race by The Content Strategist [Marketing]

Editor's Note: This article first appeared on The Content Strategist and was curated by Closer Spot. Please subscribe to get actionable news and advice delivered to your inbox each week.

“Content marketing is a marathon.” In the content marketing community, this phrase is our version of “there’s no place like home.” Say it enough times, at enough conferences, and all of our problems will go away.

Or maybe not.
Great content marketing can absolutely deliver compounding returns over time, building loyal audiences likely to buy more from a brand. But even if a CMO agrees with this idea, she may not be inclined to implement it. Why? Because marketing leaders have little incentive to play the long game.

The CMO’s Dilemma

According to research from Spencer Stuart, an executive search and consulting firm, the average CMO tenure lasts just 42 months—less than half the average tenure of the average CEO. Many fail to even make it that long.

In the vast majority of cases I’ve seen, the CEO brings in a CMO to solve an immediate and dire business need. As a result, CMOs face pressure the second they step in the door.

“If you are CEO and you tried a game plan and it’s not working, what do you do?” Greg Welch, a consultant who helped conduct the research, told the Wall Street Journal. “You change the playbook and change the players.”

But if you’re a new CMO, what should you do when you’re chosen as the new player?
A) Push all of your chips in on audience-centric content marketing—a practice with the potential to transform your brand’s relationships with people in the long run, even if it delivers an unpredictable impact on revenue in the first 12 months?

B) Bet your chips on direct response advertising and lead-gen tactics, which will deliver predictable, mediocre results?

For CMOs worried about a quick-trigger firing that’ll knock them out of the C-Suite for good, it’s hard to blame them for picking the safe answer. Which is why content marketers need to focus their attention on more than marketing departments, and change their approach to content marketing strategy.

The path to content marketing success

Look at the most successful content marketing programs, and you’ll see a common theme: executive buy-in.