Customers are becoming content connoisseurs. Your ability to cut through the digital noise and engage with them starts with the recognition that sales-focused marketing content may no longer fly with these discerning consumers. They expect your content to be both informative and entertaining. To compete in this new relationship-driven era, marketers need to know their customers and deliver the right message to the right person, at the right time.
Smart content marketing strategies focus on strengthening customer relationships and cultivating brand advocates to drive long-term sales and revenue. But this is easier said than done, and can sometimes feel counter-intuitive in the face of growing expectations to show a quick and measureable impact on revenue. Unless marketing leaders focus on relationships rather than transactions in their approach to content marketing, they will never reach their goal of optimizing the customer experience and driving more revenue.
To start your journey to content marketing best-practices, avoid the following common mistakes, each of which limits the success of content marketing programs.
1. Making it All About You
Look at content marketing through your ideal customers’ eyes, not your own. Take a step back from your key messages, brand pillars and marketing mantras, and think about what keeps your customers awake at night. Instead of asking “What’s in it for us?” ask “What’s in it for them?” before developing your next piece of content.
2. Ignoring the NAS Doctrine
The NAS (Not Always Selling) Doctrine — the idea that a brand should make content useful, not just sell products and services — is central to content marketing success. This is a tremendously difficult idea for many organizations to accept, much less implement. Companies that abandon this fundamental doctrine stand to lose engagement with customers and prospects who are not yet ready to buy, and also risk missing the opportunity to build long-term relationships with those who have made a purchase.
3. Wrong Church, Wrong Pew
Far too many organizations do not fully understand their customers. Before diving head first into content marketing, you must first understand your audience — who they are, where they are and what they care about. Remember, it’s all about delivering relevant content to the right person at the right time via the right channel.
4. Forgetting the 3 Rs
Repurpose. Reuse. Recycle. Finding new topics to discuss can be difficult and stressful for many organizations. Taking existing content — say, a whitepaper — and turning it into a blog post of “fresh” content will go a long way toward relieving that stress. Additionally, repurposing content can extend reach and exposure, and lead to better SEO results. Apply the 3 Rs to as much of your content as you can, but never republish or use the exact same content in the same form in which it was originally created.
5. Failing to Plan
“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” This is very much the case when it comes to content marketing and content strategy. You can have the greatest content on the planet, but without a solid plan in place, it will not matter.Think about planning your content a minimum of six months in advance via an editorial calendar — a staple when it comes to planning. Not only will it help with planning content around events, it will also help organize and map out your plan when it comes to “day-to-day” content such as social posts, blogs, articles, etc.
6. On the Wrong Track
You track every other marketing campaign, so why would content marketing be any different? Establish your goals and then track and measure your content marketing efforts, whether through leads or sales, to ensure you’re meeting or exceeding those goals.
7. Set It and Forget It
The greatest content ever created won’t mean a thing if you don’t share it with the world. Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. You must first tell them about it, and then they may come.
8. You’re Not Fully Committed
When it comes to content marketing, you are either 100 percent in, or you are 100 percent out. You have to be consistent in developing and delivering quality and relevant content to your audience across all platforms to be effective. Nothing is worse than seeing a brand come out firing — posting, sharing, etc., on a regular basis — then suddenly crash to a screeching halt.
There is no magic elixir for content marketing, and there is no one-size-fits-all. Your brand is unique, and so are your customers. When done with consistency and understanding, content marketing can help businesses of all types build long-term relationships with customers, converting them into brand advocates, enhancing marketing efficiency and driving long-term sales and revenue.
Title image by Rhys A.
Title image by Rhys A.