I’ve been doing content marketing for years. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the cringe-worthy.
I also can recognize when a content marketing strategy will succeed—or fall flat on its face.
I’ve worked for private companies and non-profit universities. I’ve worked as a marketing team member and as a marketing consultant. I’ve worked on projects for years and for minutes.
The story is always the same.
All content marketing strategies that thrive do one thing right and all strategies that bomb never took that one thing into consideration.
What is this one thing that’s key to a strong content marketing strategy? It’s not what you think.
Is It a Lack of Commitment?
It happens (a lot). Leadership gets excited about the branded possibilities of what content marketing can do for the company’s customers, reputation and revenue.
Ah, to be the top thought leader in your industry…
Yet, when the content marketing strategy doesn’t meet expectations after a month or two, it’s as quickly abandoned as it was started.
Not investing in your content marketing strategy usually is a symptom of a bad strategy. Bad practices lead to bad results—and low confidence levels in sticking with content marketing.
But this isn’t why content marketing strategies fail. Quitting is only how they fail.
Is It a Lack of Resources?
Content marketing teams come in all shapes and sizes. Some are a one-man show, some a full family and some a blend of internal employees and external agency workers.
And let’s not forget the money. Budgets can dictate how much (and how often) content marketing can be created and promoted.
Yet having a six-figure content marketing budget doesn’t guarantee success. Sure, it can create a lot of words and put it in front of a lot of eyes, but it doesn’t mean that it will bring a lot of value to the reader—or even be enjoyed.
These days, there are a lot of cheap (and even free!) resources that companies can use to create professional looking, branded content without breaking the bank.
And it doesn’t always take a lot of content for a content marketing strategy to be successful. A small team can still make a big impact on your company’s content marketing success, even if they produce one piece of content each month.
So if content marketing strategies fail even with big budgets and big teams, what is the reason they tank?
The Real Reason Content Marketing Strategies Fail
With so many new gadgets and trending fads weekly hitting the marketing scene, it’s tempting to jump in while the pan is hot. But many hop in without looking at the big picture and get burned.
The real reason content marketing strategies fail because companies launch right into the execution part of the strategy without figuring out what that execution should be.
In other words, there is no strategy in place.
Saying that your strategy is creating monthly eBooks, weekly infographics and daily blog posts isn’t a strategy. It’s how you execute the strategy.
A content marketing strategy succeeds when you start at the starting line.
Define your audience, their challenges and their questions. Review your company goals for each quarter. Figure out your most common buyer journey from discovering their problem to determining your company is the best solution.
Then—and only then—can you strategize what content needs to be created, how content should to be created, how often it needs to be created and how the content will be promoted.
I’m definitely not saying that you should ignore the latest social fad. What I’m saying is that in order for the latest fad to work for your company, you must incorporate it into your strategy with full purpose. Knowing your audience, your goals and your buyer journey makes it easier to see if the marketing trend is worth the investment.
TLDR: Content marketing strategies fail because they focus on the solutions, not the root problems, first.
Do you agree? Why do you think content marketing strategies fail? Share your theory below.