Trial & Error – Especially Error – In Content Marketing

success and failure marketingGood content marketing oftentimes requires companies to go out on a limb. And they call it “going out on a limb” for a reason. It’s risky, uncharted territory, and it wouldn’t be all too surprising if you fell.

Below, you’ll find some companies that… well… fell. Check out these failed content marketing campaigns, the error, and – most importantly – the lesson for you.

Amazon & The Hunger Games

The Campaign: Last August, Amazon debuted a billboard featuring the opening page from the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. This piece of content marketing was supposed to show off the Kindle’s typeface and help reinforce Amazon’s position as a leader in the pop-lit world.

The Error: The first page has major spoilers for readers who haven’t completed the first two books.

The Lesson: Just because you can do something impressive, it doesn’t mean that you should. Think carefully about how members of your target audience will respond before releasing that new campaign.

Marketo’s eBook

The Campaign: Marketo recently released a brand new eBook, 50 Tried and True Social Insights from Real Marketers. After talking to more than 2,000 customer attendees while on tour last year, Marketo compiled this free eBook, available now for download.

The Error: Matthew Kushin, a social media/content marketing professor, is not impressed. (I haven’t read the book, myself.) Kushin gives six reasons why this eBook is a flop, some of which are quite persuasive:

  • It’s not really a “book” with only 10 pages (including the cover).
  • Tips #1 and #11 are the same.

The Lesson: Marketo is a great company, and they’re probably not going to forever lose any customer or prospect because of this book. However, make sure you actually deliver on the content marketing promises you make!

Susan Boyle’s #susanalbumparty

The Campaign: You’ve got to hand it to her, Susan Boyle has come a long way. Unfortunately, her marketing team hasn’t seemed to develop quite as rapidly…

The Error: Last November, her social media team created the #susanalbumparty hashtag to generate excitement around the release of her new album. You don’t have to be all that great at English to see the other directions this hashtag could take. Also, it doesn’t appear that this was some attempt at getting extra attention/PR, since the team quickly changed the hashtag to #SusanBoylesAlbumParty.

The Lesson: Proofread. Then have someone else look at it. Then proofread again.

Where have you last seen a bungled content strategy? Share your favorite content marketing errors in the comments! 

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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