As content marketing continues to move past the early-adoption phase, I am noticing more and more companies start to take it seriously. But there are many common missteps.
To better understand what not to do, I spoke to Joe Pulizzi, founder of Inc. 500 company the Content Marketing Institute and the author of the new book Epic Content Marketing. Joe literally wrote the book on content marketing.
Here are the most common mistakes Joe told me marketers make when they do content marketing--and how to steer clear of them:
1. They have no subscription strategy.
Joe told me about the CMO of a large company, who described to him an online content program it was advertising and posting throughout social media. Though the company is producing a lot of content every quarter or so, it isn't simultaneously including a way to get readers to subscribe to it.
Sure, the content has gotten millions of people to come to the company's web site--and, yes, that now has more fans than the company's Facebook page. But it has zero subscribers. Just think about the hundreds of thousands of "content fans" it could have recruited if it had enabled those people to subscribe? If it had, the company could have, say, started to recognize what distinguishes subscribers from nonsubscribers. (Do they buy more? Are they prospects or customers? Are they stay as customers longer?)
2. They fail to inspire brand evangelists.
Joe told me about John Adams, who has been pounding a drum at the Cleveland Indians' home games since 1973, making him, perhaps, the greatest Cleveland Indians fan around. The Cleveland Indians marketing department has been working with John for years to help him publicize his story. Not only do they produce content about John on the team's website on a regular basis, they take him along on radio show interviews and help him get featured in Cleveland's newspaper, The Plain Dealer. John Adams is an inspiration to other Indians fans--and the Indians like foster his loyalty and influence.
But it would be even more powerful if the Indians invited other fans to also submit their own articles, videos, and infographics, and otherwise tell their own stories in support of the team?
3. They still keep their content creators in silos.
Public relations, email marketing, search engine optimization, social media--every one of these groups in an organization, even a small one, has someone in charge of putting the content plan together. Unfortunately in many cases, these people aren't communicating with each other. The result? Stories that don't make sense to customers, and a lot of duplicated efforts.
Joe says that SAS, the largest private tech company in North America, had a similar problem. So each of its teams designated a "content ambassador" to be accountable for that group's efforts. The ambassadors meet on a weekly basis to review its content marketing mission, and work together more productively.
4. They place traditional marketers in content roles.
Content marketing is, in most cases, better suited to the skill sets of traditional publishers than traditional marketers because publishers more fully understand how to develop engaging content and make sure it meets revenue objectives. In media companies, if content isn't driving sales, it's failing to do its job. Joe acknowledges that traditional marketers don't recognize this about content marketing.
5. They overlook internal marketing goals.
In every one of his 13 books to date, Don Schultz, the father of integrated marketing, writes about the importance of putting internal--rather than external--marketing first. But, in what may be the single greatest content marketing sin companies commit, many such programs are still launched without any knowledge or input from the sales team (or other employees).
Before your next launch, gather input from all your employees, and make sure that they are as involved as possible in your content creation program from the outset. As an example, Kelly Services, a human resources outsourcing firm, asked sales execs to submit ongoing content through their own LinkedIn accounts.
6. They miss out on opportunities to partner with traditional media.
There has never been a time where traditional media companies have been more open to content partnerships with brands than right now. This goes beyond native advertising programs, and into co-creation projects as well. If you're not talking to the leading media outlets in your niche about ways you can help each other, you are missing out on clever chances to cooperatively reach, interact with, and build relationships with interested consumers.
All these content marketing mistakes can be avoided, and you can build an effective content marketing program for your business, whatever the size to drive leads, build buzz--and generate revenue.
Now it's your turn. What kind of content marketing are you doing for your company?