Ok, I get it. “Failing” is a relative term. And all content creators face content marketing problems.
It could mean a difference between expectations and reality, numbers and estimates, or merely wants and needs.
The point is, if your content marketing strategy is not producing the results you want, you could consider it a “failing” strategy.
You might even consider it failing if it DOES produce results in a way that was originally undesired, but still positive.
Either way, your content marketing isn’t working the way you want it to be and you need help.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, we’ve ALL been there.
When I first started creating content, I had no direction, no writing skills, and BARELY any grammatical knowledge.
My website was littered with unneeded pages, I had no offers, and nobody even understood what I did.
We all start somewhere, after all.
That being said, after reading hundreds of books, articles, and watching hundreds of hours of the “greats” in online marketing, I noticed that I was missing almost ALL of the five things I’m going to share with you today.
These five things are what made the difference in my writing, my skills, and the way I framed offerings to clients and consumers!
And I want them to be yours!
Whether you are struggling to manage a consistent content strategy or you are creating one from scratch where there wasn’t one before, these tips will help you at any stage in the process!
The solutions to these diagnostic content marketing problems are, effectively, the very basics of content creation and marketing strategies. These reasons for a failing strategy (and their solutions) are the tips that provide 20% of your actions that resolve 80% of your problems (thanks, Pareto!).
So, without further ado, let’s begin!
If you’d like a more personal touch for your business needs, please schedule a free consultation with Austin by clicking the button below… Otherwise, read on and enjoy!
Problem #1: You Haven’t Chosen Objectives
Remember long long ago, when I was talking about how failure is relative? (About 9 or 10 sentences ago)
Well, part of the reason that failure is so objective is because not many content marketers use objectives with which to measure their success in a concrete fashion.
This leaves failure to emanate from within the expectations of the marketer, and not within the actual results of the data itself.
Without clarifying what you plan to achieve by creating content marketing objectives that are relevant for your business goals, success isn’t clarified either, which leaves the door open for “failure” to occur any time that there is even the slightest hardship.
Objectives for your content marketing strategy fall into one of two areas (as written by Mark Schaeffer).
1: Content for Authority
2: Content for SEO
There are various subcategories, of course. For example, authority is related to brand recognition, social proof, communities, and more.
SEO is also related to brand awareness, sales, and more.
There is certainly some overlap here (authority means more sales and awareness, etc.) but you get the point.
Determine what your brand is trying to be in the future, and begin creating content that frames your brand in that light to your intended audience.
This is how you can begin to clarify objectives.
For example, if you are a startup without a dedicated following or audience, you need awareness to begin the conversion process among your niche.
Using awareness as the baseline objective, you can now define success by measuring content factors that are immediately related to awareness, such as social shares, new page visitors, and more!
Problem #2: You Create Single-Use Content
I have a FULL article on single-use content and the factors therein.
I’ll briefly describe it here, but if you want to read the final thing, HERE’S the link.
Single use content is content that you produce and promote once… and never again.
This is a huge wasted opportunity, and very inefficient.
I should know! This has been one of my largest issues to deal with!
That being said, after some reflection the solution is really rather simple.
Single-use content can be broken down into two core issues:
1: Content that doesn’t TRANSFORM
2: No dedicated promotion strategy
Transforming content is all about making the absolute best use of the TOPIC you have already created content for, and transforming that topic over various content formats (blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.)
After all, most of the time that content creation requires is researching and writing about a topic.
Using that single topic for multiple pieces of content is the most efficient way for you to save time!
Here’s how I do it.
Step 1: Write a well-written and researched blog article
Step 2: Use that article as talking points for a video
Step 3: Separate the audio from the video to create a podcast
Step 4: Use stills and images from that video for media posts and other blog articles
Step 5: Use that article as points for white pages, checklists, and other lead generators.
It’s really that easy. Having this plan means you never have to question how many pieces of content you can make about a single topic, and you’ll have an actionable amount of steps that you can take to create multiple pieces of content and save time in the process!
The other issue is about lacking a dedicated promotion strategy.
If you create as much content as I do or more, than you probably realize how overwhelming it can be to keep track of content posting, consistency, and content formats all the time.
It’s like…really hard.
That being said, a promotion strategy is a simple schedule that clarifies the process for you into a checklist-like sheet for each piece of content you create.
It’s a written document that tells you the steps for promotion that you can follow with every bit of content!
Here’s what I do that combines my transforming content:
1: Promote my original content immediately as links to the original website (on social media)! This means that I would add a short blurb of copy to my content with a link back to my owned-media website to make my offer known.
Pro Tip: The length of the content is what will dictate how many times you post on social media. Images and tweets can be shared multiple times a day, but sharing a long-form article or white page of value is going to get old more quickly to the audience.
2: Paid Promotion to various niche social media audiences. I define my target audience by social media platform (Facebook is different than Instagram, etc.) and then I create specific ads that target my audiences to get them to my website and/or opt-in with the lead-generators I made!
3: I reach out to influencers to see if they would like to feature me based on recent work, further benefitting my exposure.
4: Round 1 of Conversion begins! Transform blog topics into videos.
5: Repeat Steps 1-3.
6: Round 2 of conversion! Turn Video into Podcast (this one is easy!).
7: Repeat Steps 1-3.
8: Continue converting and performing steps 1-3 as needed!
Problem #3: You SELL and SELL and SELL
This point is going to be short and sweet.
The truth is, the consumer has all the power nowadays.
Why? Because THEY can choose whether to consume our content, rarely are they forced to watch an ad, or consume content in some way.
Here’s what this means, when your content tries too hard to sell the consumer, it comes across as pushy, cheesy, and like an advertisement.
This will ensure that those consumers NEVER interact with your content again because, in the competitive area of the internet, they’ll go somewhere where they feel like the solutions were THEIR idea.
In the words of Donald Miller, bestselling author of Building a StoryBrand and Marketing Made Simple, he says, “Your consumers must be framed as the hero of their own story, and your brand is the guide.”
Too many brands frame themselves as the hero and not the guide.
By selling, you attempt to illicit a buy-response before ensuring the consumer that you are even an authority.
The way you become an authority and the “guide” is by providing honest and useful VALUE to the consumer.
You’ve probably heard it a million times, but hear it again.
Content is meant to provide VALUE, nothing else.
Sure, add a CTA at the end of your content so the consumer has an actionable step to take in the funneling process, but never spend more than 1% of the content to do so.
That means in a 1,000-word article, you have 10 words to spare (roughly one sentence).
In a 10-minute video, you have ten seconds to pitch.
The point is relieving PRESSURE and instilling CONFIDENCE in your brand’s ability to resolve the problem.
That’s why you avoid selling and only selling, and this is how you solve content marketing problems regarding engagement.
Problem 4: You Expect Too Much Too Quick
Here lies one of the most common content marketing problems there is.
I see it virtually EVERY time I consult for an organization or individual.
It gives off various symptoms that mask the underlying issue, such as inconsistency in posting, demotivation, and lessened content-quality.
Essentially, content marketers near and far need to remember one thing: Content marketing is a LONG-TERM strategy.
In other words, it follows a compounded curve. There is a plateau of effort, time, blood, sweat, and tears, that you must push through to become successful and benefit from the organic outreach of content marketing.
Here’s a graph.
Notice the plateau that exists in the beginning before BIG results occur.
It can be said that most things in business and life that are worth pursuing will follow this curve.
Money, authority, even happiness increases with age as time goes on.
This is the power of compounding results, and content marketing is NO stranger to compounding results.
But, this is also the reason why most people experience content marketing problems and quit.
They expect immediate results, immediate returns, and don’t justify the effort NOW for the results LATER.
This is what causes inconsistency, frustration, demotivation, and more.
In a book I wrote called The Potential Dichotomy, I mention that one of the main keys to happiness is realizing that expectations (especially unrealistic ones) are merely the doors that our minds leave open for disappointment.
I’m sorry to report that if you are in need of quick revenue, content marketing won’t get that for you unless you already have a well-established consumer base and audience.
It often takes 4-6 months before you can really call content marketing a success or failure, or adjust along the way, which is why it takes SO long to benefit from.
But once you do, oh boy, the rewards are ALWAYS worth the effort, as long as you don’t give up.
Problem 5: You Don’t Provide Real Value
Yes, there is a HUGE difference between real value and “fake” value.
And it’s similar to the difference between what I call a genuine compliment and a covert compliment.
I also wrote in my book, The Potential Dichotomy, that genuine compliments naturally explain the “why” behind the compliment.
Covert compliments are more surface-level and really only explain the “what”.
The main difference is that genuine compliments have no pre-existing expectations.
Covert compliments exist because the person giving the compliment wants or expects some kind of reciprocity.
Here’s how this relates to content marketing problems.
As a content creator, when you provide value, you need to do so because the content you provide works to actually solve the consumer’s issue.
Otherwise, your content is going to be littered with jargon that your consumers don’t know, the topics are not going to be interesting or provide value, and your consumer will no longer engage with your brand.
At the very least, they won’t see you as an authority that can actually help them.
Put simply, when you create content that “provides value” but is really a covert ploy to gain consumers, your content quality and consumer interest fall off the charts.
This, obviously, is something we DON’T want to happen.
There’s never been any harm in giving away a solution and providing actual value. many people believe that if you do this, you become irrelevant, but this is FAR from the case.
By doing so, you solidify yourself as an innovative expert in the industry that people listen and flock too.
Consumers become comfortable with your content and recognize your brand willingly due to the value your provide.
This means, when the day comes that they need help (which is often because we are not the experts in everything) they come to YOU.
That’s loyalty before you even begin a transactional relationship.
Essentially, here are the five most common content marketing problems of failing content strategies.
1: You Haven’t Clarified Objectives
2: You Create Single-Use Content
3: You SELL and SELL and SELL
4: You Expect Too Much Too Quick
5: You Don’t Provide Real Value
I hope this helps you with your content marketing journey! If you’d like to get in touch, there are links all over the top of the page where you can schedule a call with me or send me a message!
If you’d like to read my bestselling book Kick-Ass Content Marketing, go HERE.
Thanks for reading!
Work With Austin
-Austin Denison is a management consultant and coach from Southern California and founder/CEO of Denison Success Systems LLC. He is the author of The Essential Change Management Guidebook: Master The Art of Organizational Change as well as The Potential Dichotomy: The Philosophy of a Fulfilling Life, and, the Best-Selling book, KICK*SS Content Marketing, How to Boost Your Brand and Gather a Following.