Content marketing is the phrase of the moment. Everyone in the marketing industry now seems to "do content". Several brands and agencies boast its success, and a growing number of "experts" claim that content marketing is an effective and relatively easy way to drive awareness, sales, and advocacy.
Is it too good to be true?
Excellent results in content marketing can certainly occur. And there are several agencies or brands where it has actually happened.
But content marketing is not as easy as one would think. It often requires a lot of education, the art of convincing and having to break a lot of old marketing habits.
If you have invested a lot of energy (and money!) in content marketing and despite all that the results are not meeting your expectations, perhaps the reasons that led to this failure are apparent. If not, here are six possible explanations to your woes in content marketing.
1. Lack of Planning
Like the saying goes "Fail to Plan is Plan to Fail". Creating a strategy that is clear and with foresight is essential for your success. From editorial calendars, training and managing of editors and authors, content approvals, performance measurement... there is a lot to manage!
Success in content marketing begins with having a well-detailed content strategy that clearly defines objectives, terms, and roles and responsibilities. Your plan needs to be bullet proof! The slightest flaw in planning will compromise your success from the starting point.
2. Lack of Listening
Ego-centric content is another content marketing fail. Create content for customers, not your boss.
Taking time to understand what your customers really want to see or read, you'll be able to focus your efforts on creating content indisputably useful for them. Listening and anticipating the needs of your customers is the key to a more effective content marketing strategy.
3. Lack of Agility
You know that the success of your marketing strategy content depends on the fact that you should be able to post relevant content on a regular basis, but management insists on approving every piece of content, jeopardizing the momentum and limiting its impact.
The lack of agility generated by a very complex chain of command (legal, PR, engineering), can really kill any good content marketing strategy. Leaning as much as possible the levels of decisions (and a more convincing buy-in from C-level) can greatly increase the success factors.
4. Lack of Focus on Loyalty
Rebecca Coggan, from Matter Inside, illustrates really well one of the reasons why content marketing tends to fail: Brands tend to put too much emphasis on sex (sales) and not enough on love (loyalty) when creating content.
Although many of us admit that quite a few relationships were born out of sexual intercourse, the secret of a healthy and lasting marriage lays in nothing else but love. It is kind of obvious to say that when focusing on loyalty you decide to invest in your most profitable customers – the returning ones.
Be loyal to your consumers. Prioritize gradual constant action over one time high risk, big budget campaigns that often become ephemeral. The famous viral video campaign launched by WestJet for the past Christmas holidays is a good example of a big campaign that quickly fell into oblivion.
It's better to spread your energy (and money) into a lot of smaller but precise actions. By doing this you have a greater chance of maintaining a closer relationship with all of your consumers and engaging them in content that will rekindle the flame of love.
5. Lack of Modesty
Your consumers aren't stupid. Millennials are THEtech-savvy generation. Bombarded by the most advertising ever in history, they know what to look for with a sharpened ability to detect whether a brand's approach in content marketing is genuine.
Therefore, the only way to succeed is telling a real story that supports the promotion of your brand and your products. This will also help you stand out of the crowd from boring and commercial competitors who use typical "product-talk" that draw in little to no interest from consumers. By creating a narrative you will both entertain your audience and be more accessible and valuable to your customers.
6. Lack of Testing
Andy Nulman, from Just For Laughs, once said that successful content the fruit of rebellion and religion. Don't be afraid to test something different and pray that it works!
This is a good lesson of humility for brands that are alas often too afraid to shock consumers (or their legal department). Experimenting and taking chances with your content might be revealing for your marketing department and who knows, provide unexpected results. The key is to constantly test and to fail quickly.
Success in content marketing depends on many factors, but these are the most obvious pitfalls. Avoiding them can be a hard task, but being aware of your weaknesses is always a good step toward bettering your content marketing performance.
Francis Bedard of iProspect contributed to this post.
Image credit: Imgur