Everyone’s talking about it: 2015 is the year of content marketing. Yet less than 40% of companies that have already dipped their toes in worry that their methods aren’t effective.
Why? Because success is not a given. Great content marketing strategies take time, effort and expertise. To be a shining example, you need to avoid these seven deadly sins.
Thou shalt not cast thy net too wide
The more generic the content, the less use it is to anyone. Rather than trying to appeal to the largest possible audience, focus on making content that solves a real, specific problem for a small group of people. Better to produce 5 versions of an eBook adapted for 5 small but distinctly different markets than make one “universal” version that no one downloads.
Thou shalt not wing it
I cannot emphasise this enough: you must have a content marketing editorial calendar. You need to have a good idea of what you’re trying to achieve, how you’re going to do it, and when. You need to know how all the pieces fit together to guide the audience along the path to the final goal. Otherwise, they’ll get lost along the way.
Thou shalt not confuse content marketing with advertising
Far too many organisations define content marketing all wrong. It’s not about making an elaborate brochure for your company, or hammering the message that your service is the best solution. It’s about figuring out your customers’ major pain points and offering smart, authoritative ways to solve them. You want to make it abundantly clear that you are an expert on the issue – and ultimately, you want them to buy from you. But they must reach that conclusion themselves, not because you’ve told them so.
Thou shalt not forget the call-to-action
Not being pushy doesn’t mean wasting a valuable opportunity. Every piece of content represents a waypoint in the customer’s journey, so make sure you’re directing them to the next one. Perhaps you’d like them to subscribe to your newsletter? Visit your blog? Download your podcast? Read more about your relevant products? Tell them!
Thou shalt not expect thy content to promote itself
Hurrah! You’ve finished your how-to video. It’s Oscar-worthy. It’s practically a game-changer in the industry. Or, at least, it would be if anyone knew it existed.
Making stuff is the first step: next, you have to put it out there. Reach out to thought leaders and key figures in your industry and ask them to share it with their networks. Offer it to journalists in your field. Post it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook – wherever potential customers are likely to see it.
Thou shalt not put out too little
Many companies that fail to get much traction are what you might call “Christmas Party Content Marketers” – i.e. it’s something they do once a year with great fanfare, before forgetting all about and returning to “business as usual”.
That’s not how successful content marketing works. It’s about sustained high quality and regular output all year around. If you’re going to build a great relationship with prospective clients – if you want to be top of mind when they need something - you need the conversation to flow.
You want them to be like the friend you see every week, who always knows what you’re up to and rings you when they need a favour. Not like the great aunt you only see on Christmas Day who forgets your name and asks you to explain what it is you do again.
Thou shalt not try to reinvent the wheel for every post
The most successful B2B marketing strategies know how to use every part of the buffalo. Publishing a whitepaper? Fabulous – that will take a helluva lot of research. So rather than writing it and moving onto another time-intensive project, think about how you can maximise your effort. Can you repurpose the content as a series of blog posts? Instead of interviewing contributing experts over the phone, could you do it on camera? That way, you have footage for some awesome YouTube videos and you can use the transcripts for your whitepaper, too. It’s all about being efficient and creative with your resources.
Want to read more content marketing commandments? Check out our slideshare below:
Ready to progress from sinner to saint on the content marketing scale? Download The B2B Content Creation Masterclass.