Are you making these 3 deadly content marketing mistakes?

Don’t just spew content. As industry leaders in content marketing say, you have to make yourself “worthy.”

Don’t just spew content. As industry leaders in content marketing say, you have to make yourself “worthy.”

Content marketing is exploding everywhere, and most of us are willingly hit with its shrapnel daily—downloading white papers, watching how-to videos, reading articles and blogs. I have my standard “go-to” places and people, as I’m sure you do, but I’m also always on the prowl for new sources of useful stuff.

The Harvard Business Review—hardly a bastion of hyperbole—recently reported a pretty startling fact: Nine out of 10 organizations are now using content marketing. That’s 90 percent of organizations. (I know I’ve impressed you with that speedy calculation.) This is more than a trend, folks. This is a paradigm shift.

But then, there’s the little issue of producing all that content. Some are doing an astonishing job at it, like GE. Once thought of as a stodgy corporate appliance company, GE has used content marketing and social media to completely make itself over as an innovative ideas and technology company. It regularly produces amazing stuff on Twitter, Vine, Instagram and Pinterest. If you’re not following GE, check them out—it’s content marketing at its finest.

Then, there are those companies doing a pretty shoddy job at content marketing. Most often, they’re committing one of these deadly content marketing mistakes…

  1. Forgetting your audience. Many marketers produce content just to fill space or be consistent in their postings. While consistency is important, the subject matter is what really rocks in content marketing. What we’re looking at here is an exchange—you’re giving them something to look at, and they’re giving you their eyeballs and/or ears for a period of time. Is the exchange worth it for them?

The whole idea is to make yourself useful to people, educate them, or entertain them. Here are some things to keep in mind as you create content for them:

Don’t just be informational. Be emotional, too. People share things that move them—videos that make them smile, blogs that bring them confidence and insight, humorous tweets that offer a welcome distraction from a stressful day. Great information makes for highly effective content, but when you throw in some personality and emotion, that’s content marketing magic.

Create for an individual. Whether it’s an infographic, blog or video, imagine creating it for a single person… someone struggling with or really curious about this subject. See him or her in your mind’s eye, and anticipate the questions that he or she would bring up while experiencing what you’ve done. Make sure your content hits all the marks.

I’ve found, too, that it really helps to get out of the office once in a while and actually have a real conversation—in person (gulp!)—with the audience you’re creating for. Believe me, it has a grounding effect.

  1. You’re too brandish or salesy. To me, there are times when people are expecting to be sold, and other times they most definitely are not. One of those “not” times is with content. I’m sure this has happened to you. You download a whitepaper on a topic that sounds really interesting, or perhaps can solve a real problem that’s nagging you. Then you open it, and it’s a way-too-thinly disguised sales pitch for a product or service. Whoever provided this content suddenly just grabbed the steering wheel and turned you into a side alley where a sales person is waiting to pounce.

You actually feel taken in those situations, and it’s really annoying. It’s hard not to think evil thoughts toward the organization that sent it to you.

It’s OK to have your logo on the things you produce, your contact info, and even have the layout tie to your brand standards. But put the brakes on there. The content needs to deliver, period, or you risk a serious backfire.

  1. You’re not being “native.” I’ve written about this, a lot. You need to work within the platform your content is appearing in. No one would dream of putting a brochure on a YouTube video. Yet, some people load up infographics with an encyclopedia’s worth of text and just a few illustrations.

But that’s only part of it. You should be “native” to social media, too. Always aim to involve people. Ask them to share the content—and make it shareable with social media buttons in place, already. Include things like surveys or votes where you can. Even something as simple as hitting a “play” button is inviting interaction.

Kraft Foods—recently named the Content Marketing Institute‘s “Content Marketer of the Year”—claims that its content generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year. That’s four times what its targeted advertising generates.

What’s the secret sauce behind Kraft’s success? Julie Fleischer, the company’s director of data, content and media, says you have to “relentlessly pursue worthiness.”

Sounds like a very worthy plan to me.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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