6 Reasons Why Content Marketing Fails
Content marketing and inbound marketing fails because it’s a marathon, not a sprint. In today’s fast-paced business environment, executives and shareholders want results NOW. Content marketing can and will generate results for the right kinds of companies, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Here are the most common reasons we see content marketing fail within organizations:
- Bad Fit
Not every business is a good candidate for inbound or content marketing. Businesses selling products or services with a longer sales cycle typically see the most benefit from an inbound effort. They use content to stay in front of prospects during the sales cycle. This keeps them top of mind and establishes credibility in the mind of the prospect along the way.
- No Strategy
Coach Tomlin wouldn’t send the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field without a comprehensive strategy. Their coaching staff would have reviewed film, scouted players, and assembled a comprehensive playbook. Unfortunately, companies don’t operate like professional football teams. Too many organizations know that having a content program as part of their web and digital program is necessary, but too many simply throw up content without knowing what they want to achieve from it. Who will be reading their article? Will it be relevant and interesting to that person? What value are they providing the reader? What do they hope the reader will do after reading that piece of content? Without knowing the answers to these questions ahead of publishing the content, it will be impossible for them to know if they’re seeing the results they want to see. Developing a good, comprehensive content strategy is paramount in ensuring the long-term survivability of the program.
- Inconsistent Effort
We see it happen all the time. A company adopts an inbound strategy, hires a firm or agency to implement a software program like Hubspot of Marketo, and assigns the content creation to a few internal folks. Technical articles go to engineering. Sales can write articles around products. Things start out great. Energy is high. Articles are flowing. Then real life kicks in. Customers are calling and projects need completing. The content creation, which had started out strong, is now floundering. The good companies will hire a writer, but writers don’t necessarily know the products, industry, or how to write for marketing. This happens more often than not, and it’s this inconsistent effort that unfortunately dooms most inbound strategies.
- Pitching Themselves
A good content marketing effort will position the company as a thought leader in their industry. The object of creating good content isn’t to create a marketing slick advertising how your business is so much better than everyone else’s. The object is to provide readers with actual REAL value. If you’re in the restaurant industry, don’t write an article touting your salmon as the city’s best. That’s an advertisement. Instead, write an article about the different types of salmon and what makes one better than another. Don’t even mention that your restaurant serves salmon. Readers can figure that out themselves. The idea is that you’re offering education around a topic of interest. They may not choose to dine at your establishment, but if you’re the one authoring and educating them, they’ll likely put your restaurant at the top of their list. Additionally, they’ll pass that article along to their friends and so on.
- Burn Out
This one goes along with the inconsistent effort. Because content marketing is a marathon, it’s easy to burn out at mile ten or eleven when the going gets rough. It takes discipline to go the distance. Businesses that try to run a content strategy with their existing resources doing all the work in addition to their regular jobs tend to burn out after a few months. The articles they’ve written are now stale and nobody is excited about doing the work because they’re not seeing any immediate results.
- The People Writing the Content Aren’t Writers
You might think this one would fall under the category of common sense, but it’s surprising how many businesses ask sales and marketing people to “whip up an article.” All sales people aren’t created equal. Some are better on the phone. Others are great closers. Some are more consultative while others are very aggressive. Few and far between are good writers. The same goes for marketing folks. Just because they are marketing professionals doesn’t necessarily make them great (or even good) writers. Writing is a specialized skill. Cranking out a bunch of sub-par content loaded with key words isn’t going to further the inbound effort. It’s going to hinder it.
Whether you’ve already launched your content marketing effort or are considering it, keep the above points in mind and you’ll already be ahead of the curve.