The previous post in the series featured free consulting of sorts – 29 awesome content strategy tips you can implement today. But sometimes it is just as important to figure out what you may be doing wrong as it is to figure out what works. So, in the third and final installment of the interview series I ask…
“What is a common content strategy mistake that business owners make?”
Being egotistical and creating content only about what is important to them and not what is important to their marketplace.
Putting it in the hands of the PR department. I know ownership of strategy is a wearying issue, but it shouldn’t be. All content — even PR-related content — should be trying to influence some behavior that will eventually increase shareholder value. At the end of the day, that is marketing’s responsibility. PR can produce the copy … fine … but marketing needs to own the strategy, without question.
We love talking about ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for that…but that time is usually at the end of the buying process. What about all the other times? Start making a list of all the questions your customers struggle with and develop a content strategy that can regularly answer those questions. That way, you start to position yourself as the leading information provider in your niche. If you can truly accomplish that expert status, your customers will come to you when they are ready to buy.
Worrying that they’re repeating themselves. This is especially true with businesses that are establishing a blogging or social Web strategy. They worry that they can’t post up a new blog post because “they talked about that three months ago“. So, they quickly run out of ideas and the blog goes stale. They need to remember that even television networks serve up repeats, and movies are often remade. Guess what – the chances that your entire audience read your blog post four months go on X topic is about 0.0%. Now, I’m not suggesting just copying and pasting the old blog (although I’ve actually seen that work just fine as well) but tackling the same subject from a different point of view – or bringing it back because of something topical is certainly a good strategy. I’ve personally seen a client get 10X better response after they re-wrote an old blog post from a fresh perspective. Old idea – new execution.
Oh boy… where do I start? Okay, here’s one: Thinking that your press release makes a good blog post. Also, creating “good enough” content. In an era where everyone is a publisher (see #1), you have to try harder. (Oops. That was two. I have a lot to say on this subject.)
One of the biggest content marketing mistakes out there is that a lot of people believe the fallacy that if they create content, the right audience will just magically show up. With all the content that’s out there, I think that’s highly unlikely. Even if you’re an SEO ninja, you’ve got a lot of competition out there. So if you want to build an audience — you need to go where they already are and get to know them there. Once you add value where they already hang out, you’ll get on their radar screen and they’ll follow you back to your home base to see what you’re about. Most content creators do not have an audience outreach plan and as a result, are disappointed by their audience’s size.
They don’t have a follow-up plan. It’s all well and good writing an ebook; or a blog post; or using content across different social channels to grab your audience’s interest. But then what? Where’s the follow-up strategy? Where’s the list-building? Where’s the keyword segmentation to set up alerts for different audiences? Where’s the outreach to others in your niche to help you sell more? So, sure, have great content ready to share – but make sure you have follow-up and complementary stuff in the pipeline to build on any success your initial content brings.
I think number one could be the lack of commitment towards content creation with frequency. Sometimes due to the fact that we are also running a business in the back-end and sometimes because we don’t see immediate results.
Content strategy should have an editorial calendar, regardless of the frequency.
Another common mistake is the lack of a simple plan, specially in cases when content creation is a team effort in-house. Or sometimes we over do things and write a strategy document that looks more like a business plan than anything else.
Write a simple recipe that’s easy for the team to follow, establish an editorial calendar and distribute responsibilities accordingly.
This one is easy. Businesses are too safe, and driven by profits.
Businesses are not driven to create content the way John Lennon, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan were driven to write songs.
Businesses are steeped in procedures, legalities, and stifling guidelines. It’s much safer to create boring content than to risk getting fired.
On the other hand, big businesses use extremely effective but manipulative marketing practices on the other side of ethical.
Cigarette companies creating cartoon spokesperson (Joe Camel) to indoctrinate kids into the smoking culture.
Fast food companies creating playgrounds on premises to attract kids to more than just processed food (McDonald’s).
There are millions of these examples unfortunately.
So the two biggest mistakes companies make are being too boring and putting profits above global human interests. And neither sin is sustainable.
Most business owners don’t realize content is the greatest ‘sales tool’ in the world today. Without question, if a company uses content the right way, sales cycles will be shorter, margins will be higher, and life will be much better. Content isn’t just about SEO. That’s only a small part. But sales? Oh yeah, that’s the core of content’s value to a business.
Producing or obtaining low quality content just to get something up on their site, or because they think it will help them with search engine optimization. For content marketing to work, the content needs to be authoritative, authentic and credible. Without those attributes, you won’t create a relationship of trust that leads to action. To develop quality content you need to work with subject matter experts (SME) and someone with a background in professional writing and proofreading. There are many places to obtain cheap content, but that is generally not written by a SME with years of experience in the field, but rather a generalist who cranks out cheap copy by the word. The cheap route may get you clicks and traffic, but don’t count on it transforming your customer relationships. Like anything in life, you get what you pay for.
Just one mistake, huh? But there are so many… I think the biggest and most common mistake that business owners make with content marketing is buying and taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach to building an audience, without realizing that there are differences across industries, markets, and most importantly, stages of growth; the actions that you’ve got to take when you’re just starting out are very different from the ones that will work best when you’ve already got a loyal following. Think through whatever plans you’re making, and ask yourself if your current infrastructure is enough to make it work.
They create content that they *want* their audience to consume, rather then creating content around what their audience’s needs, interests or struggles. Content marketing is all about value transfer — the publisher delivers value and the viewer rewards the effort with attention, and, if it’s truly remarkable, word of mouth. It’s a simple arrangement. But a flawed content strategy is one in which there’s no true value transferred to the consumer. Content should be reverse-engineered off of the customer’s need, not the marketer’s want.
They are too scared to have personality in their content. They act like their business “ought” to act, thereby getting lost in the sea of properly-behaved businesses. Isn’t it interesting that we barely remember the classmates who behaved, but we always remember the class clown? Now I don’t mean to suggest that you should become the spitball-spewing, paper-airplane-building misfit of your industry, just please don’t be so darn tepid with your stuff. People want something different, exciting… colorful, even – not something that reads like it was written by a committee. You have to *inspire* people to come back again, to add you to your reader, and to download your stuff. If that means being more outspoken, being a bit of character, or even rattling a few cages, then so be it. Don’t piss off anyone if you can avoid it, but don’t be boring either.
The common mistake that business owners make is to treat content publishing as a reactive activity. Content is a valuable corporate asset, and deserves to be considered as part of the larger strategic plan. Content props up every organizational activity, and it needs to be considered in the greater context of an organization’s operations.
Talking about tools.
Focusing too much on themselves instead of their customers. Content marketing and social media is not just another broadcasting platform to tell the world how cool you are. It is hard for businesses to shake that old mind set of telling people how great they and their product/service are. Once they do they are better off for it.
A comment mistake that I see with content strategy is to publish irregularly. Set up a publication schedule and stick to it – that way your audience knows when to expect new content from you, and will look forward to it. This is even more important if Video is part of your content schedule.
Giving up before it works. I have a client that, after 7 months of continuous effort, is now starting to reap the rewards. We redid her site, put an SEO and content strategy in place, and started cranking out the content and building her social networks. Thanks to all that she is now positioned much better in her industry and is getting quite a few solid leads each week as well as being noticed by the media.
If she hadn’t stuck with it none of it would have happened. You must be persistent.
Rushing to publish content without ensuring it’s quality content. There’s no point starting a blog if you’re just waffling away. You need to have a specific goal in mind and you need to create content in accordance with that. Working with an editorial calendar is essential, not only because it helps you know what you have to produce next; it also gives you an overview of the direction your content is going in. This is an important way of ensuring your content stays on target and doesn’t just wander off into what you feel inspired to write on the day of publishing.
It takes time to craft informative posts, videos, podcasts, etc. You don’t just bash them out on a wet and windy Wednesday afternoon, although many of the top business blogs make it looks like this. Top notch content marketing online might look easy, but an enormous amount of strategic thinking, time and development goes into it. Business owners often make the mistake of just rushing to get out there, and then wonder why they don’t get noticed. Genuine quality content rises to the surface and succeeds.
A common mistake that I see is that business owners spread themselves too thinly and launch and try to maintain too many social media channels. They quickly realize that they can’t maintain everything and then quit. My suggestion is to only create what you feel you can support and make successful and then add more when you are ready.
Being too aggressive with their marketing.
You shouldn’t be hitting an audience with offer after offer. It’s actually not that hard to make money online. Just give away piles of great information and then make the occasional offer for a premium product.
Even better – Give away all your stuff for free and then demonstrate a step-by-step solution using a premium tool.
Ultimately it’s best to focus on building trust with an audience. It’s human nature to not trust anyone who is a marketer. So don’t start a relationship by hitting people with an offer. Instead show that you’re that rare person who is concerned with helping people first.
I don’t feel that a lot of people that are using content are really driving home the fact that it still needs to make a sale. After all, if you’re writing content for your business, you need to stay in the business mindset – you have to remember that the content piece needs to promote your business but also encourage people to become a customer.
Anyone can easily make a top 10 article about something in their industry but if there isn’t a clear call-to-action and general helpfulness, people are just going to read and then be on their merry way.
Additionally, not setting aside enough time for creating content is a biggie too. Instead of spending the $1,000 to buy an email list – maybe dump that money into a hundred articles or a dozen BIG articles that is going to get you notice well beyond that initial blast. I always tell people to think of content as a salesperson that works 24/7/365 (and you never need to pay them) – your content sits out there, on the web, to be discovered and bring people into your business – I find that way more effective than just doing a one-off campaign.
The most common mistake I see business owners make is lacking consistency. Using content marketing to grow your business takes a lot of time, energy, and effort. Results from content marketing usually aren’t immediate. I think business owners don’t commit to using content marketing for the long term and give up too quickly. Or, they pick too many distribution channels and can’t keep up with what’s needed to make using those channels effective. In other cases, they use the strategy infrequently and find themselves frustrated with the results. Pick a content production schedule you can stick to, and execute it long-term. That is the only way you’ll truly reap the benefits.
They don’t do it long enough or enough of it. Writing 10 blog posts and seeing no increase shouldn’t mean you stop. Not every content marketing strategy will be right for your business and that’s another mistake. Just because you “can” do it, doesn’t mean you should. Article marketing won’t be for everyone, guest posting won’t be for everyone. The trick is to analyze what can put you in front of the right people, and sticking with it long enough for you to evaluate whether or not that is working (which will be longer thank you think).
Writing content for no other reason than to write content. Business owners need to be strategic about the content they write. Is the piece targeting a specific keyword that your consumers search for online? Does it answer a question your consumers ask? Will it increase your business’ reputation with your consumers?
One and done. I see a lot of small and large business get stuck in the mindset that if they create and distribute one piece of content, they will win the game. In truth, it’s an on going challenge to constantly produce fresh content that’s relevant and interesting to the audience. That’s what transforms the ADD online passer-by into an loyal subscriber. To accomplish this, small businesses are going to have to get creative with production, their partners and what pieces of content they can learn how to produce in house at a lower cost. Stretching the content marketing budget to reach the right frequency will always be a challenge.
Too many marketers rush to see how much promotional content they can create to push their product or service out. But simply creating promotional content on one’s own company is not going to keep an audience engaged, or even attract them in the first place. A more successful strategy is to consider the importance of relevance, timeliness and topic choice, and select content with that in mind—regardless of whether that content is developed internally, comes from a competitor or was first published in a trusted media outlet.
Often marketers are not purposefully making this mistake but rather just do not have the understanding of how to operate in this new environment.Contentcurationmarketing.com is a great resource for marketers to find best practices, tips and news on content marketing and curation.
If you’re going to engage in content marketing, you have to give it the high priority it deserves within your overall marketing strategy. If you create content as an afterthought, it won’t attract the audience you’re looking for.
Your Two Cents:
So there you have it. 29 brilliant people sharing their thoughts. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Have you fallen victim to any of the mistakes described above? Do you have a common mistake you want to share? Leave a comment below! And don’t forget to sign up for updates …