While content marketing remains one of the most effective marketing strategies out there, it can still be misunderstood, leading to less-than-ideal approaches and even worse, less-than-ideal results. Over our many years in the content marketing industry, we’ve seen a lot – the good, the bad, and the ugly you could say. If you want your content marketing strategy to succeed (and of course you do!) it’s essential to understand the pitfalls to steer clear of. Here are the three biggest content marketing mistakes businesses make and how to avoid them.
Content Marketing Mistake #1: Creating Content Without a Set Strategy
While this may seem like a “duh” – we see so many people begin to haphazardly create content without a master strategy or plan in mind.
We also see small business owners and startup founders fall into the trap of believing that creating something, even if it is of low quality, is better than not creating anything at all.
This approach is flawed because, without a strategy, your content may not be providing any value to your audience (the entire point of content marketing), and could even be harming your brand’s reputation. Something is not always better than nothing. Starting slowly and methodically is the way you win the content marketing game.
Content Marketing Mistake #2: Not Staying Consistent With Content Output or Approach
Consistency is the #1 key to a successful content marketing strategy, because it’s simply not enough to create high-quality content occasionally. We see businesses getting really excited about putting out one high-quality whitepaper, eGuide, or solid blog post and while that’s great, it’s just a drop in the bucket.
Your audience doesn’t just want valuable content one time. They want it all of the time in a consistent cadence that they can expect. They want to find their go-to resources for information. Be that resource.
Many small businesses and startups begin by creating a lot of content initially but then fail to maintain their content output. This not only keeps you from being that go-to resource, and prevents you from staying top of mind, but again, can also harm your brand. When you hear a lot from a brand initially, you’re intrigued, but if that communication wains to very little if none at all, not only will they forget about you, you will be perceived as unreliable in the marketplace.
Content Marketing Mistake #3: Not Setting SMART Goals From the Start
What is the point of setting a strategy if you don’t know how you will measure its success? That’s where setting SMART goals from the beginning comes in.
SMART Goals are…
Your goals should be specific, so you know exactly what you want to achieve. They should be measurable, so you can track your progress. They should be achievable, so you don’t set your business up for failure. They should be relevant to your business objectives, and they should be time-based, so you have a deadline to work towards.
Without setting these types of goals from the beginning, you’ll be creating content and have no idea if it’s working or if it’s helping you achieve your business goals. This wastes time and money and easily leads owners, founders, and marketing managers to drop the approach altogether that could have been extremely fruitful.
The Three Keys to Avoiding These Content Marketing Mistakes
Ok, we’ve spelled out the negatives, the mistakes, and the pitfalls…so how do we avoid them and make sure our content marketing approaches are set up for success?
These three keys will help you ensure that you’re on a solid foundation before beginning a content marketing plan. Let’s look at each as well as tangible ways to implement them right away.
Analyze your specific reasons for creating a content marketing strategy and what you hope to gain
Before you dive into creating a content marketing strategy, it’s important to take a step back and consider why you’re doing it in the first place. And we’re specifically talking about your business, not anyone else’s, or just because this is considered “best practice.” Are you just jumping on the bandwagon because everyone else seems to be doing it? Or do you have specific goals in mind that you hope to achieve through your content marketing efforts?
For example: If your only goal is to generate leads in large quantities quickly, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. While content marketing can certainly help you generate leads over time, it’s not a silver bullet. You’ll need to complement your content marketing efforts with other marketing strategies if you want to see real results.
On the other hand, if you’re focused on…
Building brand awareness
Connecting with your audience
Growing authority in your industry
…content marketing can be an incredibly effective tool. By creating high-quality content that resonates with your target audience, you can build trust and loyalty, and position yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
To determine exactly what your goals are and why you think you should start a content marketing strategy, begin with these two questions:
What are we hoping to achieve through our content marketing efforts?
How will we measure success?
By having a clear understanding of your goals and how they relate to business objectives, you’ll be better able to develop a strategy that is in alignment and delivers real results.
Be sure your content plan and goals are aligned with your target audience.
One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make with their content marketing efforts is failing to really hone in on and consider their target audience. If you’re creating content that doesn’t resonate with your specific target audience(s), it simply won’t be effective.
Again, this probably seems like a “duh” sort of statement, right? But if you’re not really considering factors like…
Where does our audience spend their time online?
Do they prefer to read long-form content or watch videos?
Are they actually on this social media platform?
…just to name a few, then you could be missing them altogether as will your content.
Additionally, you have to consider within that content plan if your ideas will actually serve this target audience. Before you map out any content plan or ideas, put yourself in the mind of that persona. Would they find this helpful? Would they even care to consume this? You should only plan to create pieces that you feel confident in saying “yes” to those questions.
Once you have a clear understanding of where your target audience is spending time, how they like to consume content, and so forth, you can develop a content plan that’s aligned with their interests and needs and that will actually be effective.
Predetermine your time investment and what you/your internal team can handle when it comes to creating content.
Creating high-quality content takes time and effort, so before you dive into your content marketing strategy and plan it’s important to consider how much time and what resources you have available to dedicate to it.
The reason this is key is to avoid wasting time and money. If you believe you’ll be able to write 4 blogs a month and put out several social media posts per week, that’s great. But do you know the real-time that’s going to take? Do you or your team actually have that bandwidth? If not, you’re already setting yourself up for failure and wasted time. While you may try to hobble along and get it done for a while, you’ll probably drop it all together as things get busy in your business. A year later, you don’t have much to show for your content marketing strategy. You’ve wasted that time that could have been dedicated to building an incredible content plan and funnel.
However, if from the very beginning, you recognize that you need help and additional resources, you can avoid that time lost and begin your content marketing strategy strong.
By having a realistic understanding of the time and resources required for your content marketing strategy, you’ll be better able to create a sustainable plan that delivers results over the long term.
Ready to Launch a Content Marketing Plan for Your Small Business?
We know that carving out the time, resources, and energy to create ongoing content for your brand or business is a full-time job. That’s why we created Breezy – your instant content marketing team.
You don’t need to hire multiple full-time employees to handle all of the strategy, planning, writing, designing, and publishing of content. You also don’t have time to wrangle tons of different freelancers to get this all completed. You need one expert team that can help get all of the amazing thought-leadership and subject matter expertise out of your head and into formalized, engaging content that keeps you top of mind with your audience.
We’re that team!
See how we can help your small business, startup, or agency with a free consultation.