Making mistakes isn’t fun.
They can cause setbacks, result in financial loss, or cause bad blood with your team. Thankfully, you can learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Or, in this case, you can learn from my content marketing mistakes.
Over the past six years, I’ve had the opportunity to work for some fantastic companies and provide content marketing support for a variety of product launches, including:
- Serving as the marketing director for a fast-growing SaaS company
- Directing the content strategy for a popular faith-based organization (1.2 million pageviews per month)
- Launching dozens of book marketing campaigns, including several New York Times best-sellers
- Overseeing the content strategy for best-selling author Jeff Goins
- Providing content marketing support for national events, online courses, and albums
After reflecting on my experience, I wrote this post to help you to avoid the big mistakes I made.
Don’t feel like you’re alone in your work.
You don’t have to figure everything out yourself.
Take a few moments to read this post, digest the short lessons, and make sure you’re not wasting your time or money.
1. You don’t have a plan
As a creator, you thrive on action.
You get an idea or you get struck with inspiration, and you get work.
Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, or videographer, you infuse your artistic expertise with everything you create.
If your goal is only to create artistic work, then feel free to stop reading at the end of this sentence. But if you want to create content that supports your business objectives, then read on.
Here’s the deal:
There’s an art and science to content marketing.
The art of content marketing includes the words you write, the videos you shoot, and the images you create. The artistic side of your content may resonate with your audience, but if it doesn’t do much for your business, then it’s arguably not worth much. This is why you need to infuse your content with science to drive results for your business. Let me explain.
The science of content marketing revolves around creating awareness for your business, leading people to consider what you have to offer, and compelling them to do business with you. Creating this type of content takes more than a wish and a prayer and merely throwing something together like a modern artist splashing paint on a canvas.
Fight the temptation to create content until you have a solid content marketing strategy in place. Creating a plan will help you focus your efforts, create content that resonates with your target market, and make changes if you’re not reaching your goals.
2. You’re not effectively promoting your content
“If you build it, they will come.”
That was the message Kevin Costner’s character received in Field of Dreams, and it may make for an excellent motivational poster, but it’s terrible content marketing advice.
Unless you have an established platform or an extensive marketing budget you can tap to pay for traffic, you need to plan on spending a lot of time promoting your content. If not, then no one will read, watch, or listen to what you have to say.
What’s the bottom line?
Content without marketing is just content.
There’s a chance your content can go viral, and with a well thought out SEO plan it can take 3–6 months or longer to build an audience for your content.
If you’re not following a plan to promote your content, then slow down or stop your content creation to put one in place.
If after taking a look at your content creation, you don’t think you have enough time to promote your content well, then I suggest reducing how much content you’re creating or outsource your promotional efforts.
3. You’re not in it for the long haul
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your content marketing strategy is to give up too soon. Many marketers, solopreneurs, and business owners get frustrated when their content doesn’t create near-instant results.
You can find many broken dreams in the abandoned blogs, unused social media accounts, and outdated content littering the Internet today. any of these accounts could have produced a solid return on investment if they were held on to just a bit longer.
But here’s the kicker:
Content marketing is more than a marketing tactic or a one-time campaign.
Content marketing is a long-term commitment.
Your content marketing efforts cannot be treated as an ad campaign. The strategy, tactics, and timelines of content marketing differ from other forms of advertising like social media ads or billboards.
With content marketing, your goal is to consistently engage your target market over a period of time. As your ideal customers or clients engage with the content you create, you will turn into a trusted source of information, which will eventually increase sales and decrease how much money you spend acquiring new leads.
4. Your content isn’t useful
The content you publish online is not like writing in your journal or recording home videos. You’re producing content for your target market—not yourself.
Whether you’re writing a blog post, shooting a video, or creating a lead magnet, you need to focus the content you create on your target market. In other words, you need to answer their questions, meet their needs, and help them solve their problems.
Sure, there will be times when you need to provide an update on your business. And there should be room in your editorial calendar to share something lighthearted on occasion. But, overall, the content you create needs to connect with your target audience and lead them one step closer to doing business with you.
How do you create useful content?
You have to know your target market inside and out.
You need to know who you want to influence, the questions and problems they have, and answer their questions or solve their problems with the content you create.
5. You don’t publish a variety of content
Every piece of content you create shouldn’t have the same goal.
You’ll hear experts shouting from the rooftop that your content needs to be evergreen, viral, or whatever’s trending. But whether it’s long-form blog posts, videos, or infographics, you don’t want to focus on creating just one type of content. You need to plan on creating different kinds of content to accomplish different goals.
Let me explain.
There are three steps every buyer takes—including yourself—when it comes to purchasing a product or service. It’s often called the buyer’s journey. These steps are:
In your content marketing strategy, you need to publish content to capture the attention of your target market (awareness), prove yourself as the best solution to their problem (consideration), and compel them to do business with you (decision).
6. You don’t use (or have) strong calls to action
After you get your target market’s attention, what’s the next step you want them to take?
The answer to this question is what’s referred to as a call to action (CTA). Calls to action are essential to leading someone to do business with you. However, most small businesses (70 percent) don’t provide one, and they’re really easy to mess up if you do.
Every piece of content you create doesn’t have to close a deal or go viral. But the content you create does need to help someone take another step toward doing business with you.
So, for your business, the next step someone takes may be signing up for your email newsletter, requesting a free consultation, or viewing a product demo.
To help you think about the call to action you should make, you need to answer this question for your target market: “I want to _____.”
For example, the answer to this question can be something like:
- Get My Free Consultation
- Start My Free Trial
- Download My White Paper
The goal of your call to action is to provide additional value.
That means calls to action like “learn more” or “start today” don’t really make the cut. You want to entice people by whetting their appetite to pick up what you’re putting down.
The good thing about making mistakes
Here’s the truth about making mistakes:
You can only stumble if you’re walking.
In other words, you can only make a mistake if you’re moving forward.
Making mistakes is inevitable.
This isn’t what you want to hear, and I know it won’t make it as a quote on a coffee mug, but embracing the inevitably of mistakes will release you from the paralyzing grip of perfectionism. With this freedom, you can create, analyze, and adapt your content marketing efforts to meet your business objectives.
Did you discover a mistake you’re making?
Learn from it.
Change your plans.
And move on.
It’s better to keep moving forward with your content marketing strategy than to fall down and never get up again.