This short collection is some pet peeves, some hard learned lessons, and some genuine pointers. If you are too busy to read the whole thing, it boils down to this: content marketing is about creativity and intentionality. Period.
1) Content marketing is the answer to all your problems.
I wish! Content marketing can’t help you if your business model is stupid. Content marketing can’t be the only thing you do. Think of content marketing like a steroid, not an all-encompassing diet and nutrition plan. If your business was The Biggest Loser, content marketing would only be the workouts. You still need to have a solid business model, an intelligent sales funnel, etc.
2) Content marketing can be done in a vacuum.
It can, but it won’t be effective. The whole point of content marketing is to share your brand’s story and bring your clients along on the journey. The point is to create an experience that your potential clients will feel a part of. Remember in high school when you wanted to hang out with all the cool kids, then you went to college and realized they weren’t that cool? That’s what happens when you choose to do content marketing in a vacuum. I’ve fired plenty of clients that just wanted stuff thrown up on their site. Make sure that you work with a writing service or freelance writer that takes the time to delve into your company’s image. Otherwise, you are just throwing your money away.
3) You need a huge budget to make content marketing work.
I can’t say no loud enough for this one! I’m a huge proponent that content marketing at the Fortune 500 level is exactly the same at the mom and pop level. It’s not about your budget; it’s about intentionality and creativity. If you don’t have enough money to buy decent videos, just make the best blogs you can. If you can’t afford to have your employees write blogs on the clock, hire a writing service. If Google is trying to teach us anything, it is that quality over quantity always wins. Don’t feel like you have to do everything – just make sure whatever you do, you do it well.
4) Blogging is the basis of content marketing.
Nope! Plenty of companies aren’t utilizing blogging in their content marketing. It’s about your brand’s story and how you want that story to touch your potential clients. You can have a YouTube or Vimeo channel; you can put all your goodies on social media sites like Facebook or Pinterest. I would caution against putting all your real estate on free sites, though: digital sharecropping has its own issues, but it’s an option. The point is, a blog isn’t a requirement for content marketing. It’s an option. And remember that a blog could be podcasts, video, infographics, etc. The last thing you want to do is put your content marketing in a box. Remember, creativity and intentionality are the names of the game!
5) Content marketing is all about educating.
Thought leadership is a crucial component to most content marketing campaigns, this is true. However, if you never close the deal, you never close the deal. Content marketing should be used throughout your sales funnel, not just the first date. Make sure to have plenty of great white papers, email marketing campaigns or guides available for people a little further along than your tire kickers. If all you can do is talk about your industry as a whole and not your company in particular, your potential clients will never make the connection between your company and the sale. Think of it like the “friend zone” of marketing.
6) Copyscape is the end all be all of quality.
Oh good gravy! It’s true that the baseline of your quality should be uniqueness. Anything and everything you put on your site should pass Copyscape, even your product descriptions. However, unique content is the least of your worries. If you regurgitate the top ten results for any given key term to produce your blogs, it isn’t quality. It’s just noise. The internet is full of noise; your content marketing must rise above it. If you can’t say anything conceptually unique about the topic, you probably shouldn’t be writing about it. If anyone vaguely familiar with your industry already knows everything in your post, you aren’t saying anything. Content marketing is about providing top-shelf, share-worthy content. Unless someone would say “you know what I heard this morning…” about your post, stop writing it.
7) You just have to find a formula that works
Wrong! There is no “formula” to content marketing. How could that be true? If someone is selling you a guide on content marketing or a formula for $19.99, run away. Content marketing is about YOUR brand story; not mine, not your competitors, not anybody else but YOUR brand story. That means if 3 blogs a week, 2 Facebook posts, 10 Pins and 30 Tweets is working for your competition… it probably won’t work for you. This is not the time for monkey see, monkey do. It’s about creativity and intentionality. Be a little vain and focus on yourself. Then, intentionally create an experience based on what you want your brand to look like. Always consider the end consumer. Then, take all your measurements and modify. Nobody hits a home run in content marketing right out of the gate. They tweak, they modify, and they unkink the chain from what they are putting out there to the deals closing.
8) Content marketing is a skill like any other and all you have to do is learn the rules.
This is where content marketing differs from SEO copywriting. SEO copywriting has a set of rules and the rules are modified along with the updates to Google’s algorithm. Content marketing isn’t like that. Refer to #7; it’s too intimate to have a core set of rules. For example, internet marketers will tell you that “7” is the magic number of marketing lists. It’s why the number 7 is often before a list like “7 Tips…” or “7 Ways…” but you are reading this post right? Don’t be a slave to rules. Break the rules and conform your content marketing to what works for you. And what works for you right now, not six months ago. It’s too fluid and as soon as you get in a rut, it gets bland. And when it gets bland, you lose sales.
I hope that this collection of tips and pointers has helped shape your perspective on content marketing and has provided a little insight into how I work. Remember, this blog post is about my brand story, not yours. What myths of content marketing get under your skin?
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