You were lured in by promises of easy customer acquisition, but it’s six months in and you’re not seeing any results. Content marketing is supposed to do everything for you, isn’t it? So why isn’t it working? Content marketing has been touted as a “magic bullet” for businesses, but for many the term has become vague and meaningless. When content marketing strays too far from its basic premise, it becomes ineffective… and even potentially harmful.

promiseYou’re Failing to Deliver on Your Promises

Bait-and-switch tactics are great for building pointless traffic but terrible for customer acquisition. If you create the promise of useful content in the mind of the consumer and then ultimately fail to deliver, they will eventually develop a prejudice against you and your company. Your content should always be exactly what it promises to be, building consumer faith over time. After all, if a company can’t produce trustworthy content, why should anyone believe that they can produce a quality service or product?

businessYou’re Focusing on Your Company, Not Your Customers

It’s easy to get overly enthusiastic about your company, your messaging and your story. Passion is good, but ignoring the customer is not. Your company’s branding is not a message unto itself, it’s the vehicle by which messages are relayed. Focus on fulfilling your customer’s curiosity and needs — that’s what content marketing is all about. If you give your customer something that they want, they will seek you out.

planYou’re Winging It

Failing to analyze your content marketing strategy is setting yourself up for failure. Without careful analysis, it’s impossible for you to know whether your strategies are working or not. Still, many companies don’t have any form of documented content marketing strategy, and it’s easy to see why. Content marketing has been held up as an “easy” fix: just set and forget. And, in truth, content marketing used to be that simple — before everyone else started their own content marketing campaigns. But it’s just not that simple anymore.

fishYou’re a Small Fish in a Big Pond

You can’t deliver generic or unfocused content and expect to succeed; the market is simply too vast. There is a reason why every digital marketer out there suggests that you find a niche and stick to it. A small plumbing service putting out reams of generic plumbing-related content will be competing directly with national chains. The guppy will be devoured by the shark. And all other analogies to that effect. Basically, you need to create your own small ecosystem in which you can thrive.

competition2You’re Ignoring Your Direct Competition

Content marketing is no longer a marketing tip, trick or secret; content marketing is now an industry standard. The companies that you are competing with are aggressively moving forward in their own content marketing campaigns, so it stands to reason that you need to be better than them. Find areas in which they are failing to produce and compensate in your own campaigns; likewise, avoid going head to head with them in areas in which you really can’t compete.

rocksYou’re Paying Too Much Attention to Quantity

Throwing piece after piece of poor quality content at your audience is like collecting buckets full of rocks in hopes of discovering a diamond. You aren’t likely to yield results before your customer gets bored and leaves. It’s better to create smaller quantities of polished content than try to dazzle your customers with a quarry of unusable slush. There is an economic component to this as well; content that is of a high enough quality will grow legs and remain relevant for some time. Content that has just been developed for the sake of content will quickly become obsolete.

searchYou’re Unbalanced

Search and social are the two major cornerstones of any content marketing campaign. The challenge is that each of them need to be tackled separately; search engine optimized content isn’t necessarily shareworthy content, and the opposite is also true. If you aren’t paying attention to both aspects of your marketing strategy, you’re likely not achieving the reach that you deserve.

Content marketing has to remain true to its roots if it is to be effective. Not every piece of content is “content marketing” quality, and throwing content at a wall to see what sticks is not a viable content marketing strategy. Content marketing is based on a simple premise: creating valuable, unique content that fulfills a customer’s needs.

Jenna Inouye
Jenna I. is a freelance writer, programmer and web developer, focusing on the areas of digital marketing, technology, gaming and finance. Hire Jenna through WriterAccess or contact her directly.

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