How To Avoid A Content Marketing #Fail
As an eight-year marketing veteran of a major bank, I empathize with you. I was the go-to person for anyone in my division who needed help crafting a message. I excelled at finding new, more creative ways to write in the passive voice and salted my writing with the shiniest of the latest marketing lingo.
Every piece of content I created was edited and sanitized of anything remotely sounding like a human being ever uttered it. While my content garnered praise and educated employees, I doubt it converted many prospects.
The problem is that your content marketing is a fail unless it connects with prospects and helps convert them into buyers.
While the IDC research focuses on content marketing during the B2B purchase process specifically major technology products and services, these findings can be applied to any high priced, considered purchase.
The 3 leading causes of content marketing death are:
1. Contains too much marketing hype and buzzwords.
While trying to show we’re up-to-date with the latest trends by sprinkling our content with the hot new words, we loose sight of our goal, namely to provide useful information. Instead, we need to take Joe Miller’s advice (played by Denzel Washington) in the movie Philadelphia, “Now, explain it to me like I’m a four-year-old.”
Content marketing fixes:
- Stop selling. Eliminate the promotion from your content. Bear in mind that your audience can smell an ad a mile away.
- Get out your red pen and cut out every buzz phrase. Be ruthless with your edits.
- Take the Hemingway approach. Use simple words. Substitute short words and everyday language for the flowery prose you’ve created.
- Use the active tense. You don’t need to go back to middle school. Write plain sentences with a subject, verb and object. Skip convoluted sentence structure.
2. Lacks truly independent, unbiased information.
Accept that your target audience is at least as smart as you are. Take it from David Ogilvy who said, “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.” Read further and you’ll see he added, “She wants all the information you can give her.” While Ogilvy was referring to consumers, his advice applies to B2B purchasers as well. Accept that your target audience believes you’re motivated to present information showing your business favorably. Here’s the data to prove it:
- 68% of consumers trust customer opinions posted online according to Nielsen. While many marketers worry about ratings and reviews, they can help qualify your product.
- 9% of B2B buyers trust vendor content based on CMO Council research.
Content marketing fixes:
- Share original research. This is high quality content, often done by a trusted third party. Don’t include questions that are skewed towards your product. Altimeter does a fantastic job of this on Slideshare.
- Leverage the power of other people’s platforms. Create content for blogs and third party media sites. Also support other people’s content creation by providing quotes and examples. Help A Reporter Out is a great free resource to achieve this.
3. Is too general to be effective.
This fill-in-the-blank, off-the-shelf content is bland, boring and most importantly useless. If you can substitute another product, brand or company name in your content, then it’s not specific enough. The irony is that by being more specific, your content becomes more effective.
Realize your potential buyer is seeking specific details to help them make their purchase decision. Take a tip from Dragnet’s Joe Friday, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.”
Content marketing fixes:
- Answer customer questions. This is what Marcus Sheridan calls the secret sauce. Collect the questions your customers are asking and answer them. This has the benefit of saving resources since you’re not reinventing the wheel every time a prospect asks a question.
- Show customers how to use your product. Put your product in context for prospects with mini-education. This can be done via a variety of content forms including blog posts, ebooks, and presentations.
- Create visual content. Make your product the star. Not only is visual content consumed more quickly, it shows your product in action in a way that’s very specific.
To avoid a content marketing fail, your content must sound like human communication of non-promotional, yet branded information.
What else would you suggest to avoid having a content marketing fail?
Join me & Kevin Spacey at Content Marketing World 2014 Meet me in real life at CMW 2014 in Cleveland.
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