It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” This is the standard answer you’ll get if you ask, “how long does it take to see results from content marketing?”

It’s also incorrect.

Business is driven by results (leads/sales). People scramble about desperately looking for ways to generate leads online. Everyone wants a magic button that will give instant results, for next to no effort and minimal (if any) expense. Everything is a sprint.

Increasingly, it seems, no one is willing to put the time, effort, and work to build relationships. For many, the sale still comes first. It’s an approach that quickly turns prospects off. In fact, it’s likely to annoy them to the point where they’ll go out of their way to avoid your business, even if you offer the best solution to their problem.

A sales-first mindset actually stifles sales. Go figure. Succumbing to the pressure of the hard sell died with the door-to-door double glazing salesman of the 80s. No one likes being pressured into buying. Certainly not from someone they barely know or have just met. Whether it’s in person or online. And now, it’s easier to ignore, block, mute, unsubscribe, revoke consent, and pretty much end a conversation at the click of a button.

So, when it comes to content marketing, how long does it take to see results? Well, it’s certainly not a sprint.

But does that make content marketing a marathon?

Getting results from content marketing may seem like a marathon. It takes time to build up the content (whatever format it may take). It takes time to distribute it in a way that doesn’t spam people. It takes time to get indexed by search engines and start ranking for your chosen keywords. Most importantly, it takes time to build a relationship with your audience.

This is a point often overlooked.

Nurturing a relationship increases the lifetime of a sale. A hard sell may get you quick, short-term results. However, sales based on carefully developed relationships with customers are more likely to yield repeat business and referrals. Naturally, this long-term approach to results is infinitely more preferable. Isn’t it?

But that still doesn’t equate content marketing to a marathon.

After all, a marathon is still a race to finish in the quickest time possible. It just happens to be a long race.

When Can You Expect Results From Content Marketing?

James Clear recently highlighted this over on Twitter. He drew a distinction between ‘Intensity’ and ‘Consistency’.

Intesity achieves short-term results. Consistency brings long-term gains.

A sprint, a marathon, a hard sell, these are moments of intensity. And as James Clear states, “Intensity makes a good story.” However, regular, consistent, even habitual actions make progress. Sustaining that is what yields results, long term.

So, how long does it take to see results from content marketing?

As long as it takes.

Just keep at it consistently.

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Gareth Alvarez
Gareth Alvarez

Gareth, Social INK’s Head of Content (sometimes playfully referred to as ‘spellcheck’), just adores words. He’s written copy for ads, websites, and blogged extensively. Content marketing is his bag. He loves getting creative with his writing.