Failure is an option. In content marketing, the fails outnumber the successes 2:1.
I’ll assume you want to be on the right side of this ratio. But recent history suggests it’s more likely you’ll go left and meet the fate of the majority.
There are a number of reasons content marketers fail. If you want to summarize them all in one swoop for the sake of simplicity, it’d go something like this:
Content marketers want shortcuts to success, but there are none.
Content marketing expert John Miller of ScribeWise broke the problem down into six content marketing challenges. I got excited when I read his post about how the majority of content marketers fail because I’ve offered extensive advice (which I’m going to share again) for addressing each of the problems, which are:
- No content marketing plan
- Ill-equipped team
- Low priority
- Lack of content ideas
- Self-centered content
- Poor reach
If you want shortcuts, I don’t recommend you spend another second with this article. If you want insights on how to become a successful content marketer for the long haul, read on. I’ll be showing you resources that detail the solutions for each problem, so your reading list will be substantial.
Ready? Here are the problems—and the solutions.
You don’t have a content marketing plan
In recent years, Content Marketing Institute’s studies reveal approximately one-third of marketers have documented a content strategy.
They wing it.
No objectives. No mission statement. No personas. And it follows, they seldom have content mapped to the buyer’s journey—or an editorial calendar.
Marketers must think, “Who needs a strategy?” The answer is: effective content marketers. I realized marketers feel overwhelmed by the process, so I simplified content marketing planning to its most essential elements.
Here’s the article, The Content Marketing Plan that Quadruples Your Leads.
Here’s the bulk of the content in a slide deck, which provides you a template.
Fast Track Your Content Marketing Plan from Barry Feldman
Here’s me presenting this lesson in a webinar.
A party of one can seldom get it done. Achieving success in content marketing takes a strategist, managing editor, writers, and more. As you expand into media beyond written works, you need to hire or contract additional specialists.
The skills that are useful in a traditional marketing department don’t always translate perfectly to a content-oriented team.
I don’t want to say you need to field a large team or toss in the towel, but you do need to tool your team to align with your needs. You must understand where to begin and a employ a smart approach for onboarding more talent as you scale.
I’ve written the perfect thing and it was designed to address the needs of companies large or small.
Here’s the guide, Tool Your Marketing Team with the Right Talent, published by Demand Media.
Here’s advice for hiring freelance writers from a post I wrote for Content Marketing Institute, How to Hire Freelance Writers Who Make Your Content Better.
Content marketing isn’t a priority at your company
The best intentioned marketers often say they have people focused on content creation. But client work comes first and pre-empts production.
If content marketing isn’t a priority, it simply doesn’t get done. It’s not good enough to have the planners, people, and processes unless they’re focused on setting schedules and abiding by them. Not for a month. Or a quarter. Or a year.
You have to commit to devoting resources to executing content marketing forever more.
Here’s an article explaining the chasm between success and failure.
Here’s why content marketing isn’t for everybody.
And here’s Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, explaining how your content needs to come from people inside your company, but outside the marketing department.
You don’t know what to create content about
I feel this is only a short-term dilemma. You catch on after swimming in the content marketing waters for six to twelve months.
You get a feel for which topics resonate with your customers and create leads. You find sources of inspiration to draw from. You create conversations that inspire new ideas and marketing assets worthy of repurposing.
It’s coming out of the gate where you’re bound to struggle for subject matter and (with the help of Marcus) I can tell you exactly what to create content about: the questions prospects ask. It’s not the least bit complicated.
Read this, the most effective content marketing tip ever. You’ll be busy creating content for a good spell.
Here’s Marcus once again, laying down the laws of content marketing success.
You think your content should be about your company
This problem is older than time. The self-centered marketer failed miserably in advertising dominated era and continues to chase away buyers today with online content.
Smart content strategy is not promotional. Get it? So many nod their heads and say they understand, but prove they do not by publishing the “we, we, we” and “me, me, me” garbage that bombs.
This article uncovers the hard truth, like it or not, The Most Effective Online Marketers Focus on One Thing.
Your killer content isn’t reaching an audience
People love blogs. And infographics. And YouTube videos. And so on.
Why don’t they love yours? Isn’t the key to content marketing creating great content? It’s not. It’s the table stakes, as they say.
I know you’ve read the frightening facts about the volume of content available in the information age. We’ve come a long way from the age of three TV networks. Or a leading source of news.
The “channels” are now as infinite as the creators. The webosphere can now be divided (though sometimes subtly) between owner, earned and paid media. And your content marketing success will depend on you making strides in all three.
I wrote an eBook on this subject—content distribution—in collaboration with my friends at CoSchedule.
I want you to read “Amplify Content, Turn Up Demand, which you can get here. It’s a deep and valuable study on content distribution, if I do say so myself.
Here’s me presenting much of the advice in a webinar.
Much of your reach with earned media is dependent on your social media chops, so if you need help getting started with social media, here’s a resource you’ll benefit from. It’s one of the most well-received pieces I’ve created, so I hope you’ll enjoy it.
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Content marketing is challenging. I’m on a mission to help you nail it.