By Samuel Thimothy, VP at OneIMS.com

Content marketing is one of the most impactful ways to build a brand, attract new audience members and convert old customers to buy again -- but it might not be right for your business.

You heard me correctly. Content marketing might be great, but it isn’t for everyone. When a company jumps too quickly into a content marketing strategy they’re not prepared for, it can be devastating. A half-baked content marketing plan is just a waste of time, money and can even become damaging to your company’s reputation.

For most organizations, a premature dip into the content pool just means some wasted cash. But when you’re a growing startup, you don’t have any money to throw away. Here’s how to tell if your company is ready for a content marketing strategy. 

1. You don’t understand the purpose of content marketing. 

Some business owners have a hands-off approach to their content strategy. Some are so hands-off, in fact, that they don’t even know what content marketing is. They just know they need it. Unfortunately, if you don’t know where content fits in your marketing plan, it will probably just become a waste of time. 

Content marketing isn’t a quick fix or just a way to reach the top of Google. Knowing exactly how great content can convert your leads into customers is the first step in becoming ready to add content to your marketing mix. 

2. You can’t publish regularly. 

A great content strategy requires regular publishing. However, creating great content takes time. Getting results from your content marketing strategy means it can be a serious time investment before you start to see any results. 

It’s common for business owners to be preoccupied with other tasks and projects, meaning they’re unable to publish content regularly. Unfortunately, if you can’t keep content consistent or you’re rushing just to get something done, you’re not likely to see the results you’re hoping for. 

3. You don’t have a brand voice. 

Content marketing helps showcase your brand online. This means you’re able to connect with customers, solidify your brand voice and build deeper connections with leads. In order to see these results, you need to have an established presence.

If you don’t have your branding nailed down, you might want to wait to start creating content. If your content has different voices, tones or language, this can become confusing to your audience -- and actually hurt your chances of building strong relationships with them. 

4. You don’t have clear marketing goals. 

There are dozens of things you can accomplish with content marketing. However, just creating a strategy for the sake of posting content is a waste of time. You want your content to drive your leads to convert or behave a particular way so you can get closer and closer to achieving your goals. 

If you’re unsure of what you’d like to accomplish (beyond just selling more products or services), it probably isn’t the right time to create a content strategy. Instead, take a look at what you’d like to accomplish and then identify ways content can help you reach those goals. 

5. You’re not ready to introduce analytics. 

Analytics come into play for more than just content marketing, but it is a major part of ensuring your strategy is resonating with your target audience. Analytics allow you to see how well your strategy is working to achieve your goals. 

But unfortunately, analytics can be difficult to understand. To truly get insights from your analytics, you need to do more than just read from a dashboard. If you don’t have the time to invest in learning and understanding analytics, you may not want to start your content marketing strategy. 

While you may be excited to get content up and rolling, it is sometimes better to wait until you’re truly prepared to give it your all. By putting in some extra time to build up your brand and ensure you have the skills and people to make your content marketing plan run smoothly, you can set yourself up for success. When you’re finally able to give your content the attention and time it deserves, you can get results that help your company take off.

Samuel Thimothy is the VP at OneIMS.com, an inbound marketing agency, and co-founded Clickx.io, the digital marketing intelligence platform. 

Published on: Jul 26, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.