Everyone is doing it. Budgets are increasing. Jobs with “content” in the title are being posted. It’s easy. Right?
Wrong. It’s hard to be really effective with content marketing. When I say ‘really effective’, I mean that you are developing informative content the people in your target audience can/will use to better their situation regardless of what you’re selling. It’s helpful and there are no strings attached.
Here are some examples of content marketing that stinks:
- Your new application note pretending to be about technology in your industry just happens to wrap up by saying that your firm’s specific technology is the best choice. Your audience isn’t dumb and you’re not that clever. It’s only a brochure and your content marketing program just lost credibility.
- Your new video shows how to install a piece of equipment. Surprise, the video features your own equipment and is really just an instruction video. Not much help to the viewer unless they’ve already bought your stuff.
- Your new white paper talks about a specific technology that only you offer. Again, just another brochure.
- Your blog post talks about the features of a new gadget that your firm just launched. Don’t even think about trying to pass this off as ‘content’.
- Your webinar content is all about how to do something in a particular application … with your widget.
Bottom line, if your content is self-serving by recommending, talking about or describing your offering in any way, it stinks. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place and a requirement for product data sheets, product webinars, product training, etc. but trying to pass this information off as educational or thought leadership is where the bad smell starts.
The purpose of ‘content marketing’ is to engage with the decision makers and influencers in your target audience. By offering something helpful, they might share it with colleagues or post it on their wall. Because your firm was so helpful, they begin a discovery about your company’s offering, value proposition, contact points, strengths, differentiators, etc. on their own time at their own pace. This discovery process builds a relationship between the firm and the people in the target audience. People won’t engage with your firm based on a statement or veiled promotion about the products or service. People will engage with your firm if you offer information they can get for free with no strings attached that helps them improve some aspect of their lives. Naturally, the information should be related to the core competence of the firm. Good content marketing begins a relationship so that when the day does come around and the people you have engaged with in the target audience do have a need, your firm gets the call and already has significant credibility. Note that I’ve said ‘in the target audience’ a few times. It doesn’t generate revenue to offer great content to people who will never buy your stuff.
By the way, another example of poor content marketing is to develop one piece of great helpful content and just post it on your website. Great content should be promoted with outbound, social, sales team, inbound tactics and re-purposed in multiple formats. If you don’t leverage your content, then your content marketing stinks even if you create a great piece of content.
Here’s a great list of possible causes of stinking content from the gang over at Content Marketing Institute.