When it comes to content marketing, you can’t wing it. If you do, you’re just throwing money away – because getting content marketing wrong costs your business at every level.
So let’s look at four key areas – and how a mistake in any one of them can quickly derail your entire effort. And then we’ll look at how you can avoid these pitfalls.
1. Idea generation
Well, here is where it all starts. It’s all about those ideas. But this is dangerous water, because it’s easy to have a ‘great idea’ and get really excited about it, without truly stress-testing it to see if it fulfills the criteria for a successful article.
Here is what to avoid:
- Too salesy: If you own a chain of hardware stores, do not write about how you have the best products and the best materials. Don’t even try to slip it in at the end. This is the number one way to irritate your reader – and current/future customer – and instantly turn them away. What should you do instead? Helpful, practical content on home improvement that solves your customers’ problems.
- Zero relevance: The ‘ripped from the headlines’ approach can work, but don’t force it. It must tie in tightly to your offering (which you’re not mentioning directly, as we have discussed). Again, it’s about the reader – how relevant is this idea to their concerns? Taking the home improvement example – look at articles that speak to someone who is isolating at home and wants to spend that time doing home improvement, rather than offering your ‘what this means for humanity’ views on the pandemic.
- Too obvious: What we’re really talking about here is going deeper into your initial research. Going past the ‘first thought’, that obvious topic, to one that really gets engagement and beats competitors’ content. So you’re not just writing generic articles about building your perfect kitchen, but you’re tailoring it to different audience segments – easy-access kitchens for older people; the best kitchens for young families; perfect kitchens when you have limited space, and so on. In the end, think deeply about the challenges your customers face and the questions they have.
Here’s a banana skin just waiting to be slipped on. When it comes to writing, watch out for these hazards or brace yourself for disaster.
- The ‘I’ve got this’ approach: No, you don’t. Not unless you are a.) a professional writer; b.) a very good professional writer (no, they are not all equal), and c.) have sufficient time. Outsource. Get a content marketing agency that has a big team of writers who understand journalism and publishing at the same level they understand marketing. And let them solve your problems.
- The ‘It’s easy, we just need to…’ approach: Nope, it’s not easy. And you never ‘just need to…’ Cutting corners won’t work. Not with content. Accept that this is a big task. What’s needed is a proper budget, a proper brief, and giving the writer the proper time to do it. Having the right person from your company to give consolidated feedback to your chosen agency is also vital – avoiding the ‘feedback by committee approach’ which never produces a good result.
- The ‘Yeah, let’s just skip it this week’ approach: And next week and the week after. Content is tough and if you’re not working with a great agency, it’s a grind. You miss a week, your audience goes elsewhere. It’s that brutal. Set your schedule and stick to it. Being consistent is key.
3. Publishing and distribution
Yes, your content is amazing. But is it findable? Have you ever been to a library or bookstore that didn’t have sections and sub-divisions? Well, you need to guide your readers to your content, using the right tools at the right time.
- The ‘Let’s publish it on our blog and people will find it’ approach. No, they won’t find it. Ask yourself: have you truly optimised it for SEO or have you just shoved a bunch of keywords in there that are actually going to harm your ranking? Have you sent it out via email to people who might actually benefit from it? Same with social. Is it on the named author’s LinkedIn profile? And since you’ve created such a great non-promo article, have you leveraged that fact and got it syndicated in industry publications?
Who does what and when? If this isn’t smooth, you’re never going to hit those deadlines – and that means missed opportunities. It’s about taking care of all the points we have mentioned so far, and ensuring they form part of a streamlined process. Here’s what to avoid.
- Ignoring the details: If you don’t spend enough time on your idea, your brief will not be detailed or relevant and the unfortunate writer – no matter how good they are – won’t be able to deliver something great. More time is then spent on rewrites, more time is lost … you can see where this is going.
Are you experienced?
So there you go. A quick tour around some ways that lack of experience can derail your content campaign and cost you money. Because anything that hands customers to competitors, or annoys your existing customers, is an expensive mistake. By systematically following these points, or working with a great agency that can, you are maximising your content efforts and getting the most out of your digital marketing spend.