The 10 Content Marketing Plagues: How To Get On Track To Succeed

content marketing plaguesIf you don’t want to be plagued with problems like the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, make every element of your content marketing work together to achieve your business goals.

Regardless of the size of your marketing budget, number of resources or business, your content marketing can succeed or it can be plagued by problems.

Use this list of 10 content marketing plagues as a checklist to improve and reuse your content.


10 Plagues of Content Marketing

Here are the 10 content marketing plagues with actionable tips to get your content marketing on track to succeed.

content marketing plagues


Content Marketing Plague 1:  Don’t Have A Content Marketing Mission Statement

While a content marketing mission statement is relatively easy to construct, many marketers either overlook or ignore this key step in creating a content marketing strategy.

Your content marketing mission statement sets the guidelines for the content you create. It saves your organization time because it defines what content you’ll create and what you won’t. If ideas don’t make the grade, they’re not considered. Plus, the constraints can fuel creativity and ideas.

Further, your content marketing mission statement must be documented. Otherwise, each member of your organization can interpret it differently.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Develop and document your organization’s content marketing mission statement to define your content, audience, benefits for your readers and ultimate goals. Here’s how Orbit Media Studios defined their content marketing mission statement. 

Content Marketing Plague 2:  Don’t Know What To Write

Starting to create content can be a daunting task. It’s even harder when you don’t know what to write about.

First, to attract readers and customers, provide useful and/or entertaining information that meets your audience’s needs. Start by offering the 5 key types of customer content. 

5 Types of Content Customers Actively Seek & Need – Chart

If you’re still at a loss for ideas, use the 5 Step BRAVO Method to generate relevant ideas that are aligned with your content marketing mission statement.5 Step BRAVO Method for content ideation

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Tap into the power of annual content planning. Base your content plans around existing themes. This fuels creativity.
  • Develop an editorial calendar. Use a mix of content types to balance your audience’s content needs with your resources.
  • Create a content series. This helps fill your editorial calendar with content readers expect.

Content Marketing Plague 3:  Don’t Have A Human Voice

As stated in Cluetrain Manifesto, your content and communications must sound like there’s a human being behind them. Good AI generated content doesn’t sound like a computer generated it.

Therefore, create information that’s free of corporate-speak and marketing promotion or readers will move on to the next piece.

Where appropriate, use stories to make your points since they make your content relatable and help readers remember facts.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Use the second person (aka: ‘You’). While contrary to what you were taught in school, write your content as if it were a letter for an audience of one. This makes your content feel more personal.

Content Marketing Plague 4:  Don’t Incorporate Your Brand Into Your Content

Branding is more than sticking your logo on a piece of content.

From a content marketing perspective, branding must be infused throughout your content. Your objective is to ensure that readers recognize your content as yours even if it’s seen outside of your owned media and has no brand context.

Your stories must be infused with your brand.

The 5 key brand storytelling attributes defined

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Integrate your brand into every element of your content marketing. This includes the context in which you place your website or blog as well as the look and feel aspects such as typeface, color and voice. (Here are 31 Tips To Improve Design Branding.)

Content Marketing Plague 5:  Don’t Be Promotional And Pushy

Face it—your readers are smart cookies. David Ogilvy said it best, ” The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife.”

David Ogilvy said it best, “The customer is not a moron. She's your wife.” #quote #customerClick To Tweet


If you  continually shout “Buy, buy, buy!” no one will pay attention to your content. Even worse, they may not return to your owned media.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Answer your customers questions. It’s pure Marcus Sheridan, “They ask, you answer.” Support your sales process by answering customers’ questions and providing information to support product use. Here’s Sheridan’s classic post on Swimming Pools that keeps getting updated.Answer your customers questions--basic content type

    Updated Swimming Pool cost with visual comparison – River Pools & Spa

  • Compare results from promotional content and promotion-free content. Don’t just focus on sales. Look at unsubscribes and other churn factors.

Content Marketing Plague 6:  Don’t Format Content For Easy Consumption

With increased competition for reader attention, format your content to make consumption easy.

5 types of Content Consumption

Also part of this plague is not using non-text formats, especially visual content. Since many people find text difficult to consume, add visual and audio versions.

Even better, set up your content to improve trust at the same time. You’ll be surprised to discover that this includes good grammar.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Offer different forms of content. This includes images, videos, audio and presentations. Add live events such as meetings, conferences and presentations.
  • Format your content to improve content consumption. I call this: Dress your content for success! Start with a great headline to grab reader attention. Then use bolding and outlining to guide readers through the text. Remember most readers consume your information on a mobile device.

Content Marketing Plague 7:  Don’t Optimize Content For Search Findability

Remember that every piece of content must be findable to attract an audience. Further, search optimization is your content distribution long game.

After improving content consumption for humans, make it findable for search engines.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Focus your content on a set of search silos. This signals to search engines how your keywords and content are related.

    Content silos - Heidi Cohen image-Bruce Clay idea

    Content silos help you to align your content marketing topics – Image

  • Include links to other content on your website and other entities. This shows search engines how your content relates to other content.
  • Focus each piece of content around a keyword phrase. Use the keyword in the title and permalink. Add a related image and associate text with it.

Content Marketing Plague 8:  Don’t Have Sufficient Resources To Create Quality Content

Unlike the Egyptian Pharaohs, you don’t have unlimited people available to slave over developing quality content.

Instead assess your budget and personnel to enable you to get the best possible results from the content you can create.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Take advantage of the content creators and trustworthy experts within your firm. Provide supporting resources such as editors and writers. Also, get HR and management buy-in.

    Who customers trust

    Trust has eroded in the last year according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer

  • Include User-Generated Content. Like internal experts, this content isn’t free. You need to transform it into quality information. These 3 types of user-generated content are cost-effective: Guest Content, Influencer Content and Audience Content.
  • Supplant this writing with outside resources. Use freelancers, consultants and agencies. Of course, these resources require money.

Content Marketing Plague 9:  Don’t Amplify And Distribute Content Over Time

If you move on to the next piece of content as soon as you publish it, you’re killing its ability to reach the maximum possible audience. This is called “Once and Done Content.” As a content marketing plague beyond being ineffective, it’s expensive and wastes budget.

Content Marketing Reuse Chart

Having great content by itself isn’t sufficient to attract an audience. You must amplify it during the first 3 days and then promote it over time.

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Integrate social sharing into your content. Make it easy for readers to share your information.
  • Amplify your content during the first 3 days post-publication. Fan the excitement around your content.

    Content Amplification

    3 Ways to amplify content marketing

  • Maximize content distribution over time. The key is to keep your content visible over time. Extend your content promotion past the first month.

Content Marketing Plague 10:  Don’t Use Metrics to Assess Content’s Effectiveness

Without the ability to track results from each content marketing effort, you’re wasting your marketing budget and opportunity. (But don’t worry you’re not alone!)

2018 B2B Content Marketing Research Summary Chart

Actionable Content Marketing Tips:

  • Include calls-to-action in your content. Motivate readers to take specific actions aligned with your content and goals. Use contextually relevant off-ramps.
  • Build metrics into your content before publishing. Don’t leave tracking to chance.
  • Track content results to your business objectives. Use appropriate content marketing metrics.


Content Marketing Plagues Conclusion

The 10 plagues of content marketing can immobilize your marketing team keeping them from creating content useful to your audience.

To get on track to success, use this list of 10 content marketing plagues as a checklist to ensure that your efforts are working as you intended. This includes ensuring that you’re maximizing your resources while reusing and repromoting each piece of content to keep it visible over time.

Where necessary, make changes to your content to improve it and it’s viability over time.

Skip the once and done content. Make sure that your existing content continues to help your readers and yield measurable results.

What other content marketing plagues have you encountered?

How have you overcome the related setbacks? 

Happy holidays,
Heidi Cohen



Related Article: The 10 Plagues of Social Media

Photo Credit: cc zero

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on March 26, 2012. It has been extensively updated with new information and research.

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