Content Marketing Mistakes You're Making (And How to Fix Them)
Because no one should create content feeling like this kid
Let’s get real with ourselves. The 21st century business model is built around the internet. If you want to be a successful business in 2016 (and beyond), you’re practically required to have a presence online. And, since there are so many different companies online who do what you do or offer what you offer, you really need to go the extra mile to stand out.
That’s where content marketing comes in.
One of the most important things you can do for your brand is making it easy to be found online. But how? By consistently distributing valuable content. You’ll also benefit by adding value to your brand and building trust with your customers.
If it’s that simple, why aren’t more brands creating content? Well, to be frank, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Content marketing isn’t just writing a promo post and sharing it with the billions of people who are online each day (trust us, they’d never see it or even care to). Content marketing is hard.
It’s challenging to get right, it’s difficult to be consistent, and it’s honestly hard just to do it well. But with these tips, you might be able to achieve your content marketing goals:
1. You think content is the same as advertising
Contrary to popular belief, your content (whether it’s your blog, social channels, email newsletters, or anything else) is not the place to promote your products and services. Traditional advertising sets the brand as the focus (it’s all about me!), whereas content marketing places your customers and prospects as the focus (what do you want to know about the industry?). So, what does effective content look like? Your customers are already telling you. (Hint: it happens when they ask questions.)
2. You don’t know what your content should look and sound like
Effective content needs to solve a problem the audience genuinely cares about. For example, if you’re going to write a blog post, the first step is creating a topic that pulls the audience in. Then, your intro needs to follow through, continuing the thought the title introduced. When it comes to any type of content, follow these general rules of thumb:
- Communicate a singular point or theme. In other words, keep it simple and don’t go off on too many tangents. Keep it focused.
- But be creative! Use stories, metaphors, or examples to address and teach your theme or point.
- Always include a call-to-action (CTA). No your content shouldn’t be about you and you shouldn’t use it to sell, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a CTA. CTAs open up additional opportunities for your prospects to communicate with you or seek further info if they’re interested, without forcing it on them.
3. You’re creating content for you, not your audience
Knowing your ideal audience and customers is important in every industry, whether or not you’re creating a content marketing strategy. Doing so will help your business development overall. But on that note, it’s really important to help create posts that will target your audience. We suggest creating buyer personas, or avatars.
Your avatars are meant to represent your target audience and prospects, and help identify who you should be reaching with your content. Avatars should cover a range of details, such as what age brackets customers fall into, their income status, their educational background, and the buyer’s needs and wants.
Once you create your avatars, they will serve as the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy — so it’s important to do your best when conceptualizing them. Involving your sales and customer service teams will give you the best idea of the customers you’re interacting with on a daily basis. You may have different avatars for different kinds of customers.
4. You’re giving up because you think you have nothing write about
Your content is the way you’ll be contacting your prospects. So, what it is that you wish your customers and prospects knew? Then, use these ideas as a guide when creating content topics and themes. Brainstorm about what topics might work when targeting your avatars. Ask yourself:
- What does the sales process look like?
- What questions do customers have leading up to the sale?
- What major challenges and obstacles do buyers face or do we face when making a sale?
- What misconceptions surround your industry?
- What do your customers need to know?
5. You don’t have a plan
Once you have a better idea of your themes and your prospects, it’s time to really start cracking down on your plan. Figure out the types of content you want to create — that may be blog posts, articles, social media posts, e-books, or any other types of content. Next, create a 30-day or 90-day plan of attack. List out your topics for the next 30 or 90 days, setting targets for when they’ll be written, reviewed, and published.
We suggest leaving room for flexibility when creating topics or an editorial calendar, since you never know when something might pop up in your industry — and sometimes a topic might need a few extra rounds of edits or additions.
6. You’re creating content just to create content
You should always check your content against a checklist to ensure it meets your standards — this can save you from publishing mediocre or pointless posts. Here’s the checklist we use when checking out a piece of content:
- Does it tell a great story?
- Does it add value?
- Does it solve a problem, educate, or otherwise enhance your audience’s life?
- Is it unique—something you can’t find elsewhere?
- Is it searchable and shareable? Think about keywords and key phrases your audience might search on Google and incorporate them into your content.
- Is it written in your unique voice?
- Is it visually pleasing?
- Does it have a CTA?
The answer to the majority of these questions should be yes! If your content doesn’t seem to fit your criteria, it might be time to reconsider whether or not it’s going to make it to publishing.
7. You’re not being authentic
Being authentic is critical in the world of content. By being authentic, honest, and vulnerable, you’re going to build trust with your audience. Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone with your content and always have a position on something. Don’t be a people-pleasing, wishy-washy writer. Have something to say and say it. Be authentically you.
Voila! Follow these steps and you’ll be that much closer to becoming a publisher who’s got more indexed pages, ranks higher on Google, and provides customers with valuable information. Not sure you’re ready to tackle it on your own? We’re full of crisp, meaty, totally devourable ideas. Ask us what we can do for you.
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