When it comes to content marketing, there are no shortcuts. It takes months—even years—of hard work before you start seeing results.

But as the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait. By investing in the right content marketing strategies early, you can provide your organization with big benefits in the future.

Why wait to get started? The following content marketing strategies may not provide immediate returns, but they will set your organization up for long-term success:

Lifestyle Storytelling.

Want to make your brand-driven stories more powerful? Use them to sell a lifestyle rather than a product or service.

Take GoPro, for example. They recently posted a video exploring fun spots around Bali. From feeding wild monkeys to taking in majestic waterfalls, the behind-the-camera perspective makes us feel as though we’re actually there.

There are plenty of camera and video products on the market, but GoPro stands out from the competition by selling an adventurous lifestyle along with their products. To make this work for your brand, align your brand identity with a lifestyle that embodies it.

An easy way to get started with lifestyle storytelling is by sharing powerful stories featuring your customers. Then, you can begin telling larger stories which feature influencers or inspiring individuals who embody what your organization stands for.

Tip: Don’t forget to tie in an emotional aspect to hook your audience!

Create Original Research

Want to attract high quality backlinks and improve your blog’s ranking in Google? Focus your efforts on creating original research.

Original research is fresh and new, which means that others will want to link to it. This tells Google that your information is valuable and as a result, it gives your online visibility a boost.

Not to mention, it helps you build authority in your niche. Being a go-to source for new research and data is key to becoming a powerful thought leader in your industry.

And because so few marketers are doing their own research (only 37 percent, according to CMI), this is a long-term content marketing strategy that can give you a huge leg up on the competition.

Tip: For greater traffic and shares, publish your findings on SlideShare, as well as your blog. Condensing your research into a presentation on SlideShare will increase the visibility of your research and put your content in front of a targeted audience.

Get Behind a Good Cause

Millennials are a socially conscious generation, and they want brands to support causes they believe in. According to a new study, around two-thirds of consumers want brands to take a stand on issues that matter.

In response to Trump’s travel ban, Lyft pledged $100,000 million to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). Yoplait launched a campaign last year called “Mom On” to empower moms who are judged for their every decision, from breastfeeding in public to going back to work.

Taking a stand can be a risky endeavor for some, but there is overwhelming evidence that it pays off for the majority of brands. You don’t necessarily need to take a hard-line stance on a controversial issue, but identifying a local issue that aligns with your organization’s values is a good place to start.

Dare to Go Live

We’ll go ahead and say it—if it isn’t already, the future is video content. Specifically, live video.

And it’s not a bold prediction by any means. Live video officially took off in 2016 and so far, it hasn’t slowed down. In fact, a study by IBM Cloud Video and Brand Live found that 95 percent of brand executives say that live video will be a vital part of their 2018 marketing strategy.

That’s because live video has proven to be one of the most effective ways to reach a bigger audience, increase engagement, and improve ROI. By mastering live video now, you can prepare to dazzle your audience with video content in the future.

Intimidated by live video? It’s nerve-wracking for many marketers. You can reduce your anxiety significantly by mapping out a structured plan before you go live. From taking your audience behind the scenes to interviewing influencers, having a plan will also keep things running smoothly if you come upon any surprises.

Pay to Play

Once upon a time, you could write a killer piece of content and it would be discovered by your audience with little effort. Those days have long since been over.

Today, you need to use paid promotion if you want to amplify your content and ensure that it gets seen by the right audience. Otherwise, your content is going to drown in an unforgiving sea of content that grows larger with each second.

Working with a limited budget? Start small and only promote your best content. Once you know what delivers the best ROI for your organization, you can start investing more into them.

Develop More Partnerships

Moving forward, content partnerships will be an essential strategy for small to medium-sized organizations. With content marketing growing more competitive, smaller organizations must pool together their resources to compete with larger companies.

We don’t mean a single partnership—we’re talking multiple content partnerships, where you backlink to each other’s websites, share social media posts, and team up to host a contest that is mutually beneficial.

If you have one branded partnership, then good—that’s a great start! Now, branch out and find additional partners to help you promote your content. Remember to cultivate your partnerships like you would any relationship and you’ll be rewarded with faster growth.

Stay Plugged in to Your Audience

Things change quickly in the digital world. If you aren’t paying close attention to the fast-changing needs of your audience, you risk losing them to the competition.

How can you stay plugged in to your audience? The traditional methods include surveys, market research, and creating customer personas. While these strategies are useful, one of the best ways is to get out in the field and engage with your audience on online forums.

For example, Reddit and Quora are two sites that are underutilized for this purpose. One is a social media website and the other a Q&A forum, but both sites are packed with niche communities that can provide valuable insight into your target audience.

An important tip before you use these two sites is to look and listen before you comment. Read the rules, then take your time exploring the posts to get a sense of how they both work.

Conclusion

If you want to see immediate results, you won’t get them with content marketing. Sure, you might post content to your blog and gain a few quick shares, but content marketing is a long-term game. To reap the rewards, you must be patient.

These content marketing strategies have been proven to work, but they require you to invest your time, money, and skill for months on end. Do that, and you can drive growth for your organization and provide value for your audience for years to come.