One Thing is Killing Content Marketing and Everyone Is Ignoring It

One Thing is Killing Content Marketing and Everyone Is Ignoring It

Editor’s note: Most marketers are searching for the answers on how to make their content marketing more successful. But I did alter it with this one simple question, “Is the content you are creating and distributing for your customers any different than anything else out there?” I looked around at the business leaders. “Is the content you are creating and distributing for your customers any different than anything else out there?” I then rephrased and asked the question to each one directly. For the rest of the morning, we focused on answering one simple question: “Why should my customers care?” That e-newsletter you are sending out. Our job, as marketers, is not to create more content. If you are like most marketers, then, your next question is “How do I make it different?” This is easier said than done, but it is possible to tell a different and compelling story looking at different data points. Here are some things to consider: Audience Are you really niche enough with your audience? How you tell the story Content marketing has been around for years and has been called many different things. But we at the Content Marketing Institute were the first to call it content marketing. What if your content was gone?

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Editor’s note: Most marketers are searching for the answers on how to make their content marketing more successful. This update of a previously published post shares one answer.

In 2016, I led a workshop on content marketing for about 50 small-business CEOs and operations managers. They came from all different industries. Some were consultants. There was a plumber and also a representative from an HVAC company present. Pest management? Check. A few small manufacturing companies, a nonprofit, and a jewelry store rounded it out. In other words, it was a diverse group of companies.

What wasn’t diverse was the way they were marketing their companies. Most had e-newsletters. All of them had Facebook pages. Every one of these senior leaders was concerned about search engine rankings.

Another consistent characteristic? Not one of them was happy with their marketing. This is not unusual. It’s predictable that senior leaders are often disappointed with their marketing. Why? Mostly because they believe it should be easier than it is. Others believe the product should sell itself. They also feel that they are just one secret-sauce answer away from Utopia. I mean, how hard could it really be? (Don’t answer that.)

And that’s what I heard about their content efforts as well. Their blog posts weren’t getting much traffic or converting. Their email newsletters weren’t getting opened. Their customers were ignoring them on social media. Finding themselves on the first page on a search engine listing was equally hard.

Changing course

I’d heard enough. After the last complaint, I stopped my presentation. This is something I don’t normally do. I’ve been doing this particular workshop for a while, and the flow works well with small businesses. The last thing I wanted to do was alter course.

But I did alter it with this one simple question, “Is the content you are creating and distributing for your customers any different than anything else out there?”

I looked around at the business leaders. You could have heard a pin drop.

I repeated the question.

“Is the content you are creating and distributing for your customers any different than anything else out there?”

I then rephrased and asked the question to each one directly. I asked the jewelry store executive with the e-newsletter if what they sent to customers was any different. They sent coupons and articles that you could find literally anywhere.

I asked the plumber. He promoted content from the manufacturer on his YouTube page and his blog. I also found out that about 300 other plumbers used that same content.

I asked the financial consultant. He said he purposely kept his articles general because he didn’t want to give away any intellectual property without compensation. “How’s that working for you?” I asked.

“Not very well,” was his response.

At one point in the workshop, I told them that if they don’t take this seriously, they all should just go out and buy advertising (and I meant it). They should definitely stop wasting any more time on creating and distributing original content.

Why should your customers care?

For the rest of the morning, we focused on answering one simple question: “Why should my customers care?”

That e-newsletter you are sending out. Why should they care?

Your Facebook post? Why should they care?

Your blog post, video or (God help us all) Snapchat?

You get the point.

Our job, as marketers, is not to create…

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