#SFExperience: 5 Ways to Wreck your Content Marketing

In our latest eBook, The Social Experience, we gathered insights and expert advice from today’s top brand social marketers and industry visionaries. We are sharing insights from this book here on the Spredfast Blog. Today, MarketingProfs' Ann Handley shares five ways that you could be unwittingly wrecking your content marketing.

 annblogContent has always been part of marketing, of course. But advances in technology and the rise of social media bring new and (I think!) exciting opportunities for organizations of any size. Increasingly, the social and online interactions we have with one another are leading us to brands…it’s no longer simply brands leading us to their products.

I don’t use the word “opportunity” lightly, because it’s gargantuan. But what’s key to taking advantage of its gargantuanness (Is that a word? I say yes.) is that you have to retool your marketing—not do the same-old, same-old—but, rather, shake things up and embrace this whole “brands as publishers” mindset.

So you get that. You know that world-class marketers in this new era consistently create and share information that is useful, inspired, and honestly empathetic in order to attract customers, as we wrote in Content Rules. You work hard to create a social brand and a credible reputation, and to generate positive word-of-mouth to build your business.

But are you unwittingly undermining your own efforts by making some classic content marketing mistakes like these?


1. Your content is about you.

This sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t your content marketing focus on your products and services? Not quite. Your marketing should focus on what your products and services do for your customers. It’s a subtle but important distinction: the former is corporate-centric, the latter is customer-centric. Take yourself out of your marketing, and put your customer at the heart of it. In other words, make your customer—not your company—the hero of your story.


2. You market to yourself.

Don’t mistake yourself for being your target customer (unless, of course, you are). You can skew your marketing if you make assumptions about your customers based on your own preferences and behavior (or that of your friends), and not those of the people you actually want to reach. Your marketing could well end up discordant with your intended audience—out of touch with their true wants, needs, preferences, likes, behaviors, and so on.


3. You market by committee.

Marketing is often like parenting: everyone is resolutely secure in their belief that they know how to do it effectively (especially those who don’t have children). We talk about this at MarketingProfs all the time, but the best way to neuter the know-it-alls is to ensure that you’ve got the data to back up your plan: you know who your customers are, you know how to reach them, and you have insight into their mindset.


4. You don’t have customer data.

I know I pretty much already said this. But it’s so important that it’s worth repeating. Research, not opinion or gut instinct or feel, should be the foundation of your marketing program. That doesn’t mean art and creativity aren’t part of it. But think of data and research as giving you the necessary insights into new opportunities, and as the foundation of marketing that’s truly inspired.


5. You aren’t shaping shared experiences.

In our newly social world, marketers are no longer the sole influencers of purchases. Nor is traditional media. Many consumers today rely on the connected social web of their peers with similar interests. So the question becomes; How are you enabling those connections? Are you encouraging and supporting interactions by rethinking the way you market to reach customers before they identify themselves to you as prospects? If so, that means listening on social media, having a search and content strategy, and engaging with your potential customers on those channels (among others).  


Ann HandleyAnn Handley is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Ann is co-author of the best-selling Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.

Want more great social business insights from Whole Foods Market, RadioShack, Jay Baer and others? Download your free copy of The Social Experience now.

The Social Experience

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Courtney Doman

Courtney is the Content Marketing Manager at Spredfast. She focuses on sharing smart social ideas and insights to transform the way companies connect with consumers. Courtney is a passionate football fan (supporting Arsenal and the USMNT), curious traveller, and ambitious home cook.