Content marketing might actually be taking people OFF message

Content Marketing 101

Look, there are ways to do content marketing right — Hubspot mostly does it right, and they wrote up this post this week after hitting 15,000 customers — and then there are ways to do it wrong, which notably means “Following an expert down a one-size-fits-all execution that doesn’t work for your particular brand.” This happens way more than you’d think.

Here’s the problem with “doing content marketing wrong:”

  • You won’t see results quickly enough, and you’ll abandon it — that cuts off a potentially strong avenue for your brand.
  • You’ll put out a lot of content, but said content won’t be relevant to the people you need to reach.
  • In that second scenario, all you do is clutter the environment of buying and selling for (a) your company and (b) other companies in your field.

Now let’s cue up Forrester on this same topic:

Most B2B marketers have adopted content marketing as a strategy to more successfully engage with today’s self-directed, self-educating buyer.  But, the effort to produce content that captures attention, creates interest, provides value, and delivers utility has been undermined by the disconnected perspective and unsynchronized goals of content creators in different organizational silos. The result? Mountains of content — produced haphazardly — increasing the chance of someone delivering the wrong message at the wrong time.

That Forrester post is a little bit more about “staying on message” — which is hard for organizations because, yes, silos — and a little less about content marketing, but this all ties together. I wrote a post once on how and why marketing needs to evolve, and one of my points in there was pretty basic: people often confuse “data-driven marketing” with “sending out more marketing.” That’s wrong. Data-driven marketing actually means sending out less and making sure it’s actually targeted. 

Content Marketing 101

I worry that a lot of people in business, and especially in marketing/advertising departments (where content creation tends to live), have this problem where they “worship at the shrine of big numbers.” If you write and produce more stuff, that means the numbers you can tell your bosses — “the impressions!” — will be bigger. That makes it seem like you’re doing a good job, because unless you’re talking about homicides, bigger numbers are always better numbers, right?

But in reality, if you’re just producing all this stuff and it’s not really purposeful to a potential consumer … it’s kind of like full of sound and fury, signifying nothing … then that’s not a value-add. If anything, you’re sliding people at your company and in your field into more and more clutter.

TL:DR If you’re going to work on content marketing, work on it — but work on it right. Use data and information about what people read and do on your site. Look around the industry, but don’t just ape everything. Tweak it. Make it better. Realize that less can be more in some cases. Focus, stop, and think about what you want to accomplish.

Ted Bauer