“Write a blog,” they tell you. “Create interesting content people want to read. Don’t use it to sell. Provide value first, that you may be rewarded.”
“It’s the wave of the future,” they go on to say. “It’s Web 2.0.”
And so you write a blog. Once a week, you dutifully report on some aspect of your business, or your industry, or the world. You get it: It’s not about pushing product; it’s about building relationships.
And yet, somehow, it doesn’t seem to work. Only two people read the blog: you and your boss. But you persist, and eventually you find your content groove. People start to like, and comment, and share your work. And that’s when the boss starts to question the way you’re spending your time. How many additional widgets have you sold?
Why does content marketing so often fail? Two reasons.
1. Your content sucks. The single biggest reason content marketing fails is because the content sucks.
Imagine if, instead of asking you to write a blog, I asked you to sing songs. Everybody’s singing songs to market their businesses these days, I said. Sing songs and people will come to listen to the songs and then they’ll stay to buy your widgets or whatever it is you’re selling.
“But I’m not a musician,” you might reply. “Doesn’t matter,” I insist. “Just keep singing. Eventually, they’ll come.”
Meanwhile, across the country and the planet, everyone is adopting the “sing songs” mantra, uploading to Bandcamp and iTunes and asking their networks to like and share their songs.
Ridiculous, right? Singing songs is an art. Not just anybody can do it. The people who are good at it have talent, and are passionate about it, and work their asses off to get better and better. To suggest that you can become good at singing songs as a side job with the true aim of selling more widgets is so dismissive of the effort that goes into artistic creations that it’s almost offensive.
There is very little difference between being an accomplished singer and being an accomplished writer.
Writing is an art. Not just anybody can do it. The people who are good at it have talent, and are passionate about it, and work their asses off to get better and better. And to suggest that you can become good at writing as a side job with the true aim of selling more widgets is to fundamentally mislead you about the nature of becoming a writer.
But there is another reason your content marketing fails.
2. You aren’t committed enough. To become great at something, first you must be not great at it. Let’s say you have some talent, and you are passionate, and you are willing to work your ass off to get better and better. And people start to read, and like, and share your content.
And then your boss says, “How many widgets have we sold through the blog?”
And you say, “It’s not about pushing product. It’s about building relationships.”
And your boss says, “Why do we want to build relationships if it doesn’t help us sell more product?”
And you say, “It will. It just takes time.”
And your boss says, “You’re out of time. Pull the plug.”
When content marketing first came on the scene, people were super-excited because it was “free.” But to get it right, you have to invest talent, passion, hard work, and lots of time. Turns out it can be way more expensive than just buying an ad.
Are you willing to make the investment?