Are These Bad Habits Killing Your Content?
Content marketing is by far one of the most necessary components of marketing for small businesses. No, content marketing isn’t some fleeting trend. It’s the present and future of marketing. It’s how they get themselves seen, how they make themselves heard, how they create trust around their brand. Content marketing IS marketing—it’s the way brands are building strong customer bases, nurturing existing customer relationships, and helping themselves stand out among competition.
See the benefits for yourself:
- No, content doesn’t require a $115,000 up-front cost like national 30-second ad airings do. It’s is a much lower cost alternative to traditional marketing tactics.
- Content marketing is great for lead generation and lead nurturing. Get a few new emails? Throw something of value their way and see how they respond. Stay front of mind.
- Content marketing helps you keep track of valuable insights from customers too. Content’s not resonating with them? Switch it up.
Stay Out Of Your Head
Facts are facts and this all sounds great, but when it comes down to creating good content consistently, many small businesses choke. Why? Content marketing can get in your head. Maybe it seems like a luxury. It’s possible that you don’t know where to start or don’t have the right knowledge and experience to execute content marketing properly. Or you may have come across a strategic problem: strategies are limited because you don’t have staff or technical abilities, and what is content marketing with content strategy?
69% of top-performing content marketers say they rely on a documented content strategy, one that is consistent and well-thought-out. This makes perfect sense. Without a plan, how do you expect the stuff you distribute out to the world to be successful?
Even though we all know a strategy is a key component when it comes to creating and distributing content, why is it still a top challenge among marketers to consistently create good, quality content? Habits.
Habits are all around us. The route you take to work, even if it’s not the most efficient way to your destination. Drinking too much coffee because what is one more cup going to harm? Inconsistencies are habits too. Without a strategy, you’re simply relying on habit to drive your content’s quality and consistency. And what if your habits are driving your content in the wrong direction?
Let’s talk small business habits and squash the ones that could be killing your content goals.
8 Habits That Are Killing Your Content
1. You’re Not Clear On Your Brand
An ill-defined brand is certainly killing your content. Do you know your tone and voice? Your core values? What about your mission? If any of these are missing from your content, then you’re not leveraging your brand the best you can. And you’re certainly not sharing your value (the stuff that makes you you) with your audience.
Get in touch with who you are. Define what you do, make it relatable, be real, and share the good stuff with your audience that’s unlike any of your competitors. Attract your people with your authentic brand-self. How do you define all of this? We do with this little thing we like to call The Code.
The Code is all about clearly defining your brand so you can clearly define your purpose and who you are to the people who matter—your audience. It matters to people that they can trust and go deeper into who the brands they love actually are. They want to dip behind a logo and find out what else is there. So give them some interesting stuff. Give them energy and personality, and surprise them with content that reflects that. It’ll grab their attention and make them stick around—for more content, for products and services, for life.
2. You Don’t Know Who You’re Talking To
Don’t just create content that your clients like or your boss likes. The goal of content marketing is to create content that your potential customers and audience likes, wants, and needs—the stuff they’re going out there and searching for.
In order to catch their attention, you need to talk in your customer’s language and get on their level. How do they speak? Write in that same way. What answers are they looking for? Create content that solves their problems and teaches them stuff they want to learn. You might even find yourself creating content for your audience that they didn’t even know they needed yet—until you hit them in the face with an answer they didn’t know they were looking for. Get ahead of them and catch them by surprise.
What if you really just don’t know what your people want? Or who your people even are? No fret. There are plenty of ways to conduct research and find these answers. Try surveying the people who are already in your pool, asking them simple, clear, and open-ended questions to gather as much information as you can. Or base your content off of reviews you’ve received or through third-party research. The information’s out there, go and get it.
3. You’re Pushing Ahead Without a Strategy
It’s easy to get a spark of genius and pump out a bunch of content only to get burnt out a month in. Learn to pace yourself with a plan.
Creating valuable content consistently comes about by building a content strategy that you can work with and actually stick to. Don’t overload yourself with content responsibilities that will inevitably get pushed aside when other tasks get thrown your way. And don’t be vague to the point where the content creation task seems unimportant and easy to skip out on.
Hold content generation strategy meetings (even if it’s just you) and come up with thorough, well-thought-out ideas. Set aside this time to generate new concepts, brainstorm with your team (or just with your pen and paper), and really give some thought to what will be valuable to your audience. Make sure each part of your strategy has enough detail so that when it’s time to refer back and actually create that piece of content, the idea’s already there and you can plug-and-play.
You should be able to leave each content strategy meeting with:
- A plan for each content distribution channel
- A content calendar that clearly lays out topics, plans, dates, and channels
- And an understanding of how your brand will create and distribute the content and who will do it
4. You’re Pumping Out Inconsistent Quality
People fall in love with quality content that resonates with them, it’s why we love certain books or movies. But if Tarantino started making movies with sub-par dialogue, you’d stop loving him as much and be iffy about any of his upcoming films. What if they suck? Is it worth your time to give him another chance?
Same goes for your content. If the content you create and distribute is inconsistent, your audience won’t trust you. And if that’s the case, will they trust your products, services, or your brand as a whole? The way you create content reflects your brand, including your products and services.
Content strategies will help you create content that is consistent, help you see gaps in your quality, and ensure you’re only creating things your audience wants to read.
5. You Write Like A Used Car Salesman
Let’s be clear about something: people don’t care about your product or service. This may have once been the case, but it’s not about sales, products, and services anymore—it’s about everything else.
People care about getting their problem solved, so give them what they’re asking for. How can you help your audience out? And how can you make that help genuine and memorable? When you keep these things in mind, your communication will naturally come off that way, unlike a used car salesman.
So if you’re selling products rather than offering real value, stop—it’s killing your content. Don’t sell, give them something worthwhile. Something they want, something for free, something that will give them that warm fuzzy feeling inside—that feeling of trust. Then after they can trust you, they’ll look into how they can help you, or what they can buy from you.
6. Your Content Distribution Is Weak
Creating content is only half the battle. You’re not done yet, you have to distribute your content now.
Deciding where to share your content can be tricky because it’s not always the same for everything you have to give. Decide which channels make sense for each piece of content you create. Then distribute that content on every channel that makes sense, and tailor your content to that particular channel. For example, what you put on SnapChat will not always make sense for LinkedIn. You may be able to share the same content on each, but try thinking about introducing it differently on each channel.
Give email a try too. 40% of consumers want informative emails and less promotional emails from brands they follow, so give them what they want. Email is the most effective channel for content distribution because people check their emails every single day. Through email you have the ability to get right in front of your audience, so take advantage of it. Share your blogs, share updates, give information, make it worthwhile for them to open instead of click ‘Delete’.
7. Underestimating The Power of Evergreen
There’s no doubt that timely content is powerful and shows the effort of delivering relevant information to your people. While it’s essential to be consistent with timely content, that’s no reason to shy away from all things evergreen.
Evergreen content is content that focuses around a topic and is relevant to your audience for a longer period of time than timely content would be, let’s say for a one year span. From the time that evergreen content is distributed to an audience, that content’s information stays accurate and should consistently be sought out by your audience over that entire year.
Too often, content creators fear evergreen content, or at least too much evergreen content, due to the fact that their audience isn’t always getting news and information from that moment in time. But, fear not! It’s incredibly beneficial to have accurate content available to your audience no matter what month it is or what’s going on in the world. Your audience will still be searching for information from your brand that matters always!
A good rule of thumb we like to follow is try 50% evergreen and 50% timely content and see how it resonates with your audience. If you’re finding evergreen is your top hit, then create it more often, and visa versa.
8. Not Testing Different Content Formats
Not all content formats are created equal, but not all content is created equal either! There’s no question certain types of content belongs in specific formats, and that’s great, but we urge you to switch it up consistently and try something new.
There are dozens of formats for creating content–social media, podcasting, blogs, white papers, infographics, and video, to name a few. Instead of writing a blog every single week, try shooting a video or recording a podcast. You will most likely have to adjust the content you write or the way you write it, and, dang, what an attention grabber for your audience!
For example, your jokes just don’t seem to land in writing, so throwing them into blogs just isn’t cutting it. Imagine getting to throw in two, three, four, even five funnies into your video. Your audience is much more likely to understand or find the punchline comical when they see the silliness and don’t have to just read it … boring. Different content formats will win your audience over and could even begin to attract a more diverse group of people.
Go on, squash those bad habits and quit killing your content. With a plan, a clear definition of who you are, and free value, your content will do wonders for the success of your business.