You’ve always been marketing. First it was search marketing, then social media marketing, and now you’re looking at the latest thing–the combination of search and social called content marketing. But, as with anything, there are the right ways and the wrong ways to do content marketing. Here are three kinds of mistakes we see content marketers make all the time, and ways to avoid them.
Confusing Channels for Strategies
Number 1 on the list of common mistakes is picking a channel before they’ve defined a strategy. They just absolutely need to “do” Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. It may be fairly obvious that a particular channel is the right choice based on observing what your competitors are doing and where your audience lives. But when you put the channel cart before the strategy horse, you’re going nowhere fast.
A better approach is to take a more complete view of the audience – what are their interests? What are their pain points? Can you segment them by interest? From there you can build a picture of the kind of content you need to create to engage with your audience. It just might be the case that the content that makes most sense for you doesn’t lend itself to Twitter’s 140-character format. Pinterest might be a better choice. But you’d never know that if you started with the assumption that Twitter was the place for you because “all the other kids are doing it.”
Concentrating on Lead Generation Rather Than Engagement
This can be tough, and a bit confusing. Yes, you have to measure the success of your efforts. And yes, you’d better be measuring something of bottom line/top line value if you have any hope of defending your budgets to the folks whose titles start with capital C’s. (As in Chief something Officer, who probably doesn’t care how many “likes” you have.)
But as important as lead generation and resulting sales are to any marketing effort, content marketing is unique in that engagement over the long term can yield much deeper and steadier results.
The goal isn’t necessarily to ask for the sale at every opportunity. (Does anything think “always be closing” is still a viable strategy?) It’s to foster engagement that moves the buyer to the next step in his or her buying process. It’s not about your sales cycle.
That’s why a variety of content aimed at audience members in the various stages of the buying cycle will be more productive at keeping your cash registers ringing consistently.
Swinging for the Fences
Pardon the sports metaphor. I know everyone’s not a fan. But everyone loves the idea of being the next viral sensation.
Forget it. Entire industries – music, movies, books – haven’t figured out whether the eight- or nine-figure investments they make will connect with their target audiences. And they’re throwing a lot more resources at the problem than you ever could.
Instead, think of ways to create a steady stream of solid content. A break-out hit would be great, but don’t let chasing it distract you from keeping your audience consistently interested in your message.
There are a lot of ways to succeed with content marketing. You can blaze your own path rather than following in the tried and true footsteps of colleagues and competitors already seeing success. In fact, blazing your own path can be a great way to differentiate yourself. Just be sure not to think the latest, greatest, hot new thing is somehow immune to marketing truisms that have stood the test of time.