Content marketing. It’s something we’ve been talking about a lot this year. It’s the latest craze in the marketing world and most companies seem to be jumping on board.

Being that I haven’t always worked in the marketing industry, I’ve found that many of my other experiences can relate to my current position at our PR and digital marketing agency. For years I’ve worked in the service industry as a waitress where there is a crisis at least once a shift, guaranteed. Whether it be internal or an upset customer, there are times you need to step back and think before you act on impulse.

Today I will share my experience on waiting tables and marketing, and how they are actually quite similar.

Have a plan.

From the minute you get to the restaurant, everything should be set up. There should be a floor plan, food prepped based on sales from the previous year and outdoor seating setup in the summer months. If there isn’t a plan before those doors open – good luck. “Setting up for success” is what we always say in my restaurant and if we don’t, by 7 p.m. we’re a disaster.

For content marketing, you need to know what channels you will be using for your strategy (social, blog, video, e-books, etc.), who will be crafting and reviewing your content and you need to decide on a turnaround time that everyone agrees with. Timely content is the most important. If you craft copy announcing a new product, you don’t want to miss that boat!

Think before you speak.

There have been plenty of times while waiting tables where the customer is wrong. Can I tell them that? Absolutely not. “The customer is always right” and they need to walk out of that door just as happy as they were when they walked in, if not happier.

How does this relate? Let’s say you find yourself in the middle of a social media crisis? DON’T freak out! You need to take a step back and think before you post. What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. Just like that upset customer leaving the restaurant, they might never come back.

Learn patience.

As a lead trainer at my restaurant I’ve had to let new servers shadow me so that by day 5 they can lead the way with me quietly observing in the background. Yet, sometimes they just don’t seem to catch on right away. I was once in their shoes and I get that it can be nerve-wracking to be starting something new that you might be fully understand. Unfortunately, sometimes managers don’t have the patience to train their new employees properly and they want that person to be an all-star server ASAP.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Now, I know you can’t say that to your clients, as I can’t say that to my managers in the restaurant, but you must remind them that content marketing efforts are going to take a little bit of time before they start seeing the ROI they’re looking for. You can suggest to them that paid media might be a better option if they want instant gratification, but patience will go a long way if they want to properly implement a successful content marketing strategy.

For agencies, be prepped with case studies for eager potential clients to show them that your strategy will be worth the wait.

Consistency.

Saturday night at a steakhouse in the winter is pure madness. A madness that I just love! The only downfall to this is that sometimes everyone stops working as a team. This is then where things fall apart. There needs to be consistent communication with managers, fellow servers, cooks and hosts. Without communication you get a frustrated wait staff and many angry customers.

As with serving, inconsistency could really damage a brand’s image. A potential customer researching your company may be turned off seeing that the blog hasn’t been updated in over 10 months, or you’re not answering customer service questions on Facebook. Your website and social channels act as your “digital storefront” so if you don’t have time to maintain them properly, customers may feel that you’re going to handle their business the same way.

Don’t be envious.

As a server, you win some and you lose some. Every shift isn’t going to be a homerun and it can be hard to ignore the banter of others around you bragging about their wins or even complaining about their losses.

In marketing, you should always keep up on what your competitor is doing. But please, DON’T try to BE your competitor. To beat the competition, you have to do something different . Use those creative juices!

What are some steps you take for a successful content marketing strategy? Share them with me below or on Twitter!

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