Content marketing is a powerful way for any business to cultivate relationships online and better position itself as a resource and solution to its clearly defined target audience. I think it’s easy for firms and businesses to buy-in to the value of content marketing, but when it comes to implementing content marketing there are several behaviors that get in the way of long-term success.
With more and more businesses embracing content marketing as its marketing strategy of choice, there are a few mistakes that will certainly curtail your content marketing success if you’re not careful:
1. You Lack a Strong Value Proposition
Firms that are the most successful with content marketing have strong branding and value proposition. It’s these fundamental, core messages that are reinforced over and over again through the fresh content that a content marketing strategy determines. So before you get busy creating or outsourcing content, what’s your story first? What makes your service special and why should someone choose you over anyone else? Because content is the extension of your brand, you have to really nail down your own brand story first if you’re going to communicate a consistent message that aligns with your brand and attracts your ideal client to your business.
2. You Don’t Set Specific Goals
What is the purpose of your content marketing strategy? Ambiguous goals will crush your content marketing momentum before it can take off. Simply saying things like, “I want more leads” and “To raise awareness” aren’t specific enough. Specificity is necessary in order to stay focused and on track to achieve real, tangible results. Make sure you set SMART goals for your content marketing efforts. They need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely:
3. You Don’t Define a Specific Audience
Content marketing success hinges on the ability to create useful content for a clearly defined audience. If you aren’t willing to narrow your target audience, you are setting yourself up for content marketing failure. You simply can’t be everything to everyone. If an audience doesn’t feel like they are being spoken to directly, they may miss that you were trying to talk to them at all. As an example, not all people within a certain generation are the same, nor do they use the same language to describe the things they care about. Content marketing and niches are an incredibly powerful pairing. I know of an attorney who also happens to be very entrenched in the CrossFit community. She herself is into CrossFit and has positioned herself as the legal representation for CrossFit gyms and other businesses associated with CrossFit. She knows their culture. She speaks their language. And she is able to create highly relevant content that her ideal clients actually care about.
Don’t be afraid to narrow your audience.
4. You Omit Tone and Personality
Let’s be honest. There is a lot more content out there today than there was a year ago and there will continue to be more content than there is demand as more companies become publishers. What you say is important and how you say it will help you even more. The tone in which you create content and the brand personality that you infuse in your digital assets is yet another important factor in attracting your ideal client to your business. Most customers meet you online first before they see you in person; therefore, make sure your content is a true representation of who you and your brand are. If you want to bridge a connection with your ideal client with your content efforts, you have to give them something more human to connect to in the first place.
5. You Lack Discipline
Content marketing is like a lifestyle change. Establishing good habits doesn’t happen overnight, but they are necessary for long-term, sustainable results. For this reason, you have to be committed to the process. If you start getting itchy around months 3 or 4 because you feel like you aren’t seeing results fast enough, the worst possible thing you could do is abandon the strategy in favor of a quick fix. That would be like someone who is looking to get into better shape, who has a workout and nutrition plan and starts off really strong. The first couple of months were tough to kick-start, but you’re in it now. Then, even though you aren’t that far into your plan you get discouraged because you didn’t reach the goals you set for yourself by 12 months in 4 months. You quit your regimen and buy fat burners instead. Content marketing takes discipline and the results are really favorable for firms that stick with the program.
6. You Create Crappy Content
I don’t know how else to say it. You shouldn’t be creating content for the sake of creating content. It needs to actually be good and useful to your target audience. People aren’t attracted to your content simply because you create it. Google isn’t even fooled by subpar content. So make sure whatever you produce is of high quality. When I read content that has grammatical errors, ugly graphics or is just bad writing, I will never trust that source of content again. If you make a bad first impression online, you may not have a chance to make up for it. Think of it this way: You are your content.
7. You Don’t Promote Your Content
However long it takes you to create content, you need to be spending even more time promoting it. People don’t flock to your content and they definitely aren’t chomping at the bit for you to release your next blog post. (I know, it’s a sad truth.) As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of content out there competing for your ideal client’s time and attention. Therefore, if you don’t have a plan in place for how you are actually going to reach your ideal clients with your great content, you’re in trouble. There are various channels to leverage, as well as considerations of timing and frequency. These details are determined by your audience and testing.
8. You Don’t Have a Plan for Existing Content
You know all that great content you produced two years ago? What are you doing with it? If it’s just sitting dormant on your blog and hasn’t been touched in months or years, that’s a mistake. Just because your content isn’t new, doesn’t mean it’s useless. Make sure you are refreshing your content quarterly and yearly. Content has an incredibly long shelf-life if you maintain it. It is for this reason that content marketing is a smart investment in your brand. Overtime, you accumulate wonderful digital assets that can continue to increase your brand’s value.
9. You Don’t Include a Call to Action
In order for content to perform, you have to provide your audience with the desired action you want them to take: subscribe to your blog, download an offer, sign-up for an event, share the content with their network. There should be one very clear call to action on any piece of content you produce so that you can strategically guide your audience through the experience you designed to move them closer to becoming a contact and then a client. Make whatever action you decide clear and easy to do.
10. You Don’t Follow-Up
Perhaps the biggest mistake you’re making is not following up with the new contacts and leads you’ve earned through your content marketing efforts. Once people take that action you determined and share their information with you, what are you doing to nurture that new relationship? Depending on your business and your prospecting process, you can automate certain follow-ups to remain top of mind and add value to your relationships. But at what point do you follow-up personally?