Content Marketing: What NOT To Do

There are a lot of people out there engaged in content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of B2B marketersare deploying content marketing as a strategy. Quite clearly, not all of those firms are doing it well; there’s a glut of poor content.

Obviously, marketers are not setting out to produce poor content. Many are simply having a hard time breaking away from the old muscle memory of traditional marketing. We’ve been trained to do things a certain way, and now we’re trying to do them completely differently.

So, in an effort to help you smooth out the process, here are some things not to do when launching your content marketing effort:

Don’t talk about yourself. It’s been said that social media is a cocktail party; good content marketing is having something interesting to say. Don’t be the guy at the cocktail party who talks only about himself. You’ll soon be left all alone. Rather, interact with the audience. Ask them questions. Talk about their interests. You’ll find you become far more popular.

Don’t talk about everything. In other words, have a focus. If you’re a cloud data storage firm, people don’t need to now what you think about the Grammys, Crimea or March Madness. Concentrate on keeping your editorial promise to the audience.

Don’t fly blind. Great content marketing is audience-centric. That means the content team must begin with an understanding of who the audience is, its wants and needs, frustrations and challenges. Building persona profiles at the outset of a content marketing effort will set you on the right path. Larger enterprises may spend months and many, many dollars on building personas. Small and medium-sized businesses may not be able to spend that much time and effort, but they must have an honest discussion about audience. Without intel, you’re just guessing.

Don’t bog down your approval process. I’m hearing this a lot as I talk to folks running brand newsrooms. A streamlined approval process is critical for success, because a lot of content (but not all) typically has a relatively short shelf life. The content team must have the trust of the C-suite and the latitude to “run with the story.”

Don’t expect the audience to magically find your content. Distribution matters. Merely publishing blog posts will not make a significant dent in the universe (have you noticed it’s crowded out there?). Actively circulate your content, whether through syndication, media relations, email, or social media. Creating persona profiles will help shape the push.

Don’t spend too much time strategizing. Yes, you must build a strategic foundation before launching into the content game. But let’s be honest, the best strategy is pretty straightforward: understand the audience and what it wants and needs, and then dive in with both feet. Life is for those who show up. Your content strategy will not be chiseled into stone tablets; you can tweak on the fly as needed. In fact, you’ll almost certainly have to make modifications. So don’t get caught up in building the perfect strategy. Take a lean approach and build the minimum viable product, then adjust as needed. The real traction will come from actually producing content and delivering it into the marketplace.

And one last bonus thing not to do: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You’re certainly going to make them. And it’ll be OK.

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3 comments about "Content Marketing: What NOT To Do".
  1. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein , March 21, 2014 at 1:10 p.m.
    The headline speaks for itself.
  2. Stephen Baldwin from Didit , March 21, 2014 at 1:52 p.m.
    Excellent points all, John. I especially like your point about "jumping in with both feet." One an only hypothesize for so long. When you do "jump in with both feet," the data "splashes back," so I would only add to your great litany of action items the need to have analytics in place to study the "splash pattern." Study the resonation patterns and you can adjust your content output. GA is a great tool for doing this.
  3. Justin Belmont from Prose Media , April 3, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
    As a content marketer, I like your approach from the angle of what not to do, as opposed to the commonly posted "tips" style. I like that you mention that it's not all about marketing yourself, and I also like that you highlight distribution; that often gets put on the back-burner. Great post!