1. Campaigns that originate from the bottom of a pint glass
When it comes to marketing, everyone has an opinion, everyone has ideas. It’s a good thing and ideas for campaigns shouldn’t be shot down. They should however be based off some sort of process or strategy. In our case we use research to form our ideas, research into persona interests, social sharing trends and publishing topic. At least with this method we know our campaigns are based off an educated content idea and therefore have more chance of succeeding.
We’d never run with an idea that came off the top of my head in a client meeting or in the pub with colleagues at lunch. Likewise, we wouldn’t accept an idea for a campaign from a client that’s based off nothing but a hunch. We’d be happy to run it through our process and vet the idea. There’s too many campaigns that are doomed to fail from the off, this means time and budget wasted on something that was never going to work in the first place.
A robust idea gen and research phase is a necessity.
2 .Only promoting content through owned channels
Not every brand is blessed with 100,000’s of social followers or site visitors, yet their promotional strategies often assumes that they are. Only promoting through your owned media channels drastically limits the reach of your content.
Over the last 5-8 years a lot of companies went out and hired someone to be responsible for their social channels and or content production. However, there is still little knowledge within companies to identify the difference between someone who is capable of just knowing how to use these platforms, and someone who knows how to use them as part of a wider promotional strategy that incorporates earned and paid media.
What we have at the moment is thousands of brands broadcasting content about their bake sale to a handful of social followers and site visitors who happen to stumble upon the blog area. It has zero affect and it’s insane.
You need to incorporate earned and paid media. Facebook organic reach has shrunk which forces the need for social advertising. Earned media through social influencers and quality coverage will dramatically increase the amount of eyeballs your content will get in front of.
3. Crap content
There’s so much content out there now that journalists must be drowning in it. Which means your content needs to be excellent, good won’t cut it and crap certainly won’t. Crap content can come from being too intrinsic, not thinking about what your target audience wants to see, and only thinking about where you can shoehorn in your products and services into the piece.
A bad idea often spawns a bad content piece but there are lots of good ideas out there that haven’t been given the proper treatment when it comes to design and depth.
For example, we have a client who sells private number plates. We wanted coverage off aspirational lifestyle type sites and automotive sites. Our research pulled through that footballer’s cars were talked about a lot on these types of sites, great, so what? We could have produced a list of the most expensive footballer’s cars, an idea that was done to death and almost certainly wouldn’t have achieved us any coverage.
Instead we added depth to the subject area and created a calculator that compared how long you would have to work to afford a footballer’s cars vs how long they had to work – http://www.nationalnumbers.co.uk/footballers-cars
This piece had sufficient depth and was newsworthy enough to achieve coverage from Daily Mail, Top Gear, Car Throttle as well as other aspirational lifestyle type sites. This drove over 30,000 hits to the piece (Mostly from the influencers and not the national press).
Use the research, demand the resource and protect the campaign.
4. Outdated approaches driving strategy & bureaucracy stifling creativity
The traditional approaches to PR and advertising don’t always compliment new digital channels in terms of how people consume information. Yet the majority of people in the positions driving strategy will often have extensive experience in these areas. So what we are left with are old school, call to action, transparent strategies for content marketing that are being filtered down through workforce’s.
Of course, not all people that possess 20 years’ experience are stuck in their ways, some have adapted and stayed on top of advancements in how people consume content and they’re experience is invaluable.
In a lot of traditional organisations there is still a lot of red tape and bureaucracy that is suffocating the need to be creative and reactive when it comes to content marketing. Having 3 levels of sign off for a timely content piece often leads to the piece being immediately irrelevant when it eventually goes live. It must be driving marketers crazy.
There needs to be an element of flexibility and reactiveness when it comes to Content Marketing and unfortunately some of the more traditional organisations are not adapting quick enough.
5. Being scared of leaving your comfort zone
A lot brands are happy within the realms of tone of voice, brand guidelines, messaging etc and that’s fine, these things should form the basis of how you communicate and content shouldn’t bastardise them, but it’s a very safe zone to be in. It’s all very subjective and rarely a two-way conversation. When it comes to Content Marketing you are putting yourself out there, exposing yourself to your audience and relevant publishers, and they will have opinions on your content. That’s the point, it should engage people in conversation.
This is where some brands can become very reactive and flaky.
Amends can go round and round, on and on, I’ve even had them come full circle and back to the original piece. A round or two is often needed but a lot of the time people are happy in this little cycle, content going live is scary to them.
There needs to be someone in your organisation responsible for pushing and dragging others out of their comfort zone.
6. Thinking Content Marketing is just writing content
There still, somehow, seems to be a confusion of where to put content. It can go anywhere! It can sit as a long-form article on your blog, that doesn’t mean that content marketing is just blogging. It can sit as an interactive piece on its own landing page. It can be an infographic within your educational hub. It can be a case of better optimizing your service page copy to help ensure it ranks for key terms.
It doesn’t just have to be blogging and it’s not a case of just writing content. When producing bigger pieces that pull on design and development resource you quickly become a project manager. In the idea gen and research phase you are a market researcher. In the promotion and outreach phase you act as a social media/outreach expert. Copywriting often ends up being a small part of the campaign.
Content Marketing is an area of the industry that scales several different disciplines. If your fortunate you should be able to draw on teams that operate in each area as specialists.
It’s not just writing blog content.