There’s a lot of chatter about content marketing these days. And rightfully so. It doesn’t matter if you’re the shop around the corner or a Fortune 100 company, done thoughtfully, consistently and responsively, content marketing builds loyalty, leads and revenues.

It’s not a trend that will come and go by next year. Which leads to three reasons why companies need to sit up, take notice and have enough sense to be afraid of it.

Reason #1: You’re not doing it.

Sticking your head in the sand is no way to deal with something you don’t understand. Content marketing isn’t a trend. It’s a way of building relationships through conversations with your customers. You may think content marketing won’t work in your _(Fill in the blank)_. Company. Industry. Marketing department. Sales structure. Business approach.

For every reason you have why it won’t work, you’ll find three proven cases of how it can. Probably the biggest determinant for knowing whether or not content marketing will work within your organization is to take a look at your corporate culture and your openness to change. Don’t underestimate these.

Content marketing bucks the trend of traditional marketing. It’s not about pulling out your 42-item check list and ticking things off as you prep for your product launch. There’s a lot of companies that are very good at that. Once the product’s out the door, the product collateral goes onto the website and the internal sales portal, never to be seen again. Because it’s crap.

Your culture has to be open to change to move forward with content marketing because often you have to make decisions on the fly. You have to be nimble.

Think about having a conversation with someone in a social setting. You ask them a question, and there’s a five to 10 minute lag before they respond. Weird. And I bet it’s a short interaction.

Here’s the corporate equivalent. Your customer says something in a social channel and you want to join in. But before you do, you have to get executive and legal sign-off on what you say, which takes five to 10 weeks.

That’s not content marketing. That’s corporate bureaucracy. Companies try to apply the same rules and regulations to conversations as they did through traditional marketing, and it eventually kills the interest and enthusiasm for content marketing initiatives.

Marketing through content needs to create value, and not everyone is going to sit around waiting until you’re ready to share your value. Instead, they’ll go to your competition, who already understands content marketing, and is ready, willing and able to pick up the conversation where you left off.

Reason #2: You’re not emotionally engaged in the content you generate.

I love Southwest Airlines. I know a lot of people say this, but I really do love them. They love what they do, and they want to create a better experience for their customers. Flight attendants tell great jokes, and they enjoy making people happy.

Then there are airlines whose employees clearly go through the motions. Passengers boarded. Check. Safety presentation. Check. In-flight service. Check.

Technically, they’re doing the same thing as Southwest, getting passengers from point A to point B. But if you look at people’s expressions, there’s no engagement. When was the last time you smiled all the way down the jet way getting off another airline’s flight?

Don’t just go through the motions. Care about the journey and the experience you’re creating with your audience through content marketing.

Reason #3: You’re drowning your audience.

The antithesis of the ambivalent marketer is one suffering from the “new puppy” syndrome.

Your marketing department is head over heels in love with content marketing. There’s no lack of enthusiasm or ideas when it comes to churning out content. It’s a machine.

But for your audience, it’s like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. There’s so much gushing going on, that what you really need is to slow the pace and the volume and give your customers a chance to take in less, but more relevant, content.

We’re not just creating more content these days, we’re creating more ways to package it. E-books. White papers. Podcasts. Tweets. Posts. Blogs. Andonandonandonandon.

Pushing content through an expanding number of channels is a little like adding spandex to your wardrobe -- just because it exists, doesn’t mean you should go there.

The whole premise of content marketing is relevancy. And adding content volume can often detract from that. Instead of creating such a large volume of content, spend more time being thoughtful about what you do generate, so you can nurture your audience, not drown them.

Common Sense Turns on the Light

It’s natural to be afraid of the dark, whether it’s real or metaphorical.

Content marketing doesn’t have to be the scary beast it’s sometimes made out to be. That’s where common sense goes a long way.

Skip the part that it’s about your company talking to your customer and prospect. Instead, think about it as a conversation between two people. You’ll see that once you start to relax and enjoy what each of you have to say, you’ll end up with a much richer and more meaningful exchange.

Image courtesy of James Steidl (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more of Carla's thoughts on content marketing check out Content Marketing: Know WHY You're Headed in That Direction