6 reasons your Content Marketing sucks
Over the last few weeks it has dawned on me that too many companies have put next to no effort in to their Content Marketing strategies. The aim of this article is to make you stop. To think. Regardless of where you sit in the business ecosystem.
People don't care about you
We live in a day and age where a simple search for any given term will return hundreds of millions of websites, news items and blog posts. In a frankly pitiful attempt to quantify an example for you, a quick search using "average search result volume" in Google (other search engines are available) returned 168,000,000 in 0.58 seconds. Give people a reason to want to read your content, to share your content.
Putting the finer aspects of SERP / SEO aside for a second, to be able to rank, you need quality content that does what it says on the tin. If the tagging isn't set up properly, or the content doesn't match the title you are going to rank negatively in search engines. Linking to quality sources in your content also helps add credibility - the web crawlers will view the content favourably.
This week I have been to multiple start-up, tech, fintech and insurtech events. At each there were exciting founders, innovators and visionaries - people that are doing genuinely amazing things. Speaking to them individually was awe-inspiring. Imagine the disappointment of the audiences when each stood on stage and said 'we are the biggest X', 'we are the next Y' or my personal favourite 'we are disrupting <insert industry'. The groan was almost audible. The same can be said for content - if you're not creating different and varied content from your competition then people will soon turn off. Think about how you can get more bang for your marketing buck by repurposing content and delivering it in different formats. You're saying the same thing, but in a consumer-friendly way. Think about your audience and how they would most enjoy consuming your content.
At the risk of ignoring my own advice and sounding like many other marketeers out there; be human. Ok, so the company that you work for may not be the sexiest or the newest kid on the block and you read somewhere that to get the most from content / blog posts you need to produce X a week and they have to be a minimum of (for instance) 500 words or :30 seconds long in the case of videos to help you 'rank'. Don't (totally) believe the hype. Creating regular, short content in your chosen format can have a bigger impact and has a better chance of being shared than writing war-and-piece or a video the length of Titanic.
You're not teaching anyone anything
Much like the events mentioned earlier, too many companies are guilty of saying the same thing. Those that say they are disruptors have often not taken any notable market-share from incumbents. Those tech start-ups that say they are scalable often are so only because they increase the size of their operations teams.
Create value for your audience. Take the time to get to understand who they are, what they care about. Chances are, if you're reading this, you are involved in the content-production process somewhere and are keen to understand someone else's opinion. Hopefully, it will reaffirm what you know, or make you think about content marketing differently.
Don't lead with your sales pitch. We're not in 1990 any more. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvier and being attacked by Sales and Marketing teams from more angles than ever before. The emergence of smart-phones has led to them being constantly bombarded from the moment they wake up, to the moment their head hits the pillow. They will skip over any direct pitch.
You've got no game
One Friday afternoon I found myself behind the 8-ball. The VP of Marketing had a policy that we should be producing one blog post a week and we hadn't shared one yet. What's worse, we hadn't even written it yet - we had been busy. The result? A flat, lifeless and totally unrelatable blog post about a topic and with content that may as well have been cut-and-paste from one of any given competitors website. If you find yourself writing for the sake of writing, it's time to step away from the keyboard or put the pen down. Don't do it. The topic is going to lack substance and the readers simply will not care, sign-up for future posts. As for sharing with their network? Forget it.
Create a game-plan, a strategy. Know what you are going to create, who needs to be involved and allow yourselves the brain-space to be able to produce content you would be proud of.
You don't know who you're talking to
As we've covered, it's not enough to simply produce content for contents sake.
I recently spoke the CEO of a small company who was suspicious that the money he was spending on content marketing was being wasted. He was right. We took a look at Google Analytics and visitors were spending less than 15 seconds on blog posts that were a 3min read for even the speediest of speed readers. Worse still, they were then leaving the website completely. The company was paying a retainer to an agency in addition to a fee-per-post. On further investigation, the agency had only been briefed to produce 8 posts a month on topics of their choice. I nearly fell over.
Content marketing will only ever be a success when you've covered the basics. Create personas for the audience, understand who you want to speak to, why you want to speak to them and what you want to say. Consider the problems / challenges that you can help them overcome.
Us human beings are a fickle bunch. We're always worried about what other people think (conscious or not). Often, people are self-conscious about producing content and get even more shaky when it comes to publishing it. It's natural. What if you say the wrong thing? Why would anyone value your opinion?
The fact of the matter is this; you are (or should be by now) an expert in your respective field. You may not be a PhD on the subject, but that's ok. Few people will understand your expertise or business better than you. In the eyes of the reader, you are an expert. It may require a little policing to ensure you stay on-brand and it will almost certainly require a lot of self-motivation, but the initial investment will pay dividends when you're a content-producing superstar that understands you may not be the next Henry Mintzberg and be ok with that.
So what are you waiting for?