To understand what you’re doing wrong, first you need to understand what content marketing is. Here’s a definition of content marketing from HubSpot:
“Content marketing is a marketing program that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience — usually online — the goal of which is to attract new customers.”
Content marketing includes a wide range of examples because so many different types of content can be used. Content mediums can include blogs, infographics, web pages, ebooks, white pages, apps, videos, webinars, and podcasts. With content marketing, you own the content. By consistently creating and sharing content, you are attempting to impact the behavior of your audience.
Here are three mistakes that you don’t want to make in your content marketing:
Your topics aren’t specific enough.
One of the ways you might discover this error is as you create the content, you realize it’s way too long and extensive. So you decide to try and make it into two blog posts, or break it down into more than one video. When there are too many details or too many variations on the subject, it’s impossible to give effective answers.
Start by creating a specific title to help you stay focused. HubSpot has a great article on how to get from a topic to a working title to help you write a blog post, but it could be used to keep you on track with creating something specific for any content marketing medium.
Focused topics have more depth and meaning. And since content marketing is all about sharing content you own and telling a story in the process, it will be much more memorable when it’s specific.
Remember, you can always change your working title once you’ve completed your white pages, app, blog post, etc. It’s just supposed to help you stay specific and avoid drifting off into distracting details, like Dory the helpful surgeonfish in Finding Nemo.
You don’t know who you’re talking to.
It’s the same rule of thumb that you apply to your social media. Knowing your audience is something a successful marketer must always consider in order to have effective content. For example, I’d write “You don’t know to whom you’re speaking” if my audience was comprised of a class of degree-seeking English majors.
Ask yourself “what’s important to them?” and then connect in a way that shows you care and you’re for real. Knowing your audience entails being authentic. But what is that, really? Seth Godin asks “Is authenticity authentic?” and wonders if it’s even possible to be authentic in a world where everyone is trying to succeed.
He says that in order to get around the inevitability of inventing ourselves, we need to be consistent. Stick with the same story, the same voice, and answer their questions using the same desire to make an impact.
The best way to do this is act like a human. The best way to know if you’re human is if you can easily fill out a CAPTCHA. If you are having trouble with this task, then it might be time for an emotional overhaul.
Use your human emotions to create memorable content marketing that will connect with your audience. Show your empathy for their needs in your answers to their questions and they’ll be more likely to stick around.
You aren’t listening. (A.k.a. “Can you hear me now?”)
Knowing who you’re talking to isn’t the end game. You also have to show you’re listening. The best part about this is that you will get to know your audience even better when you’re a good listener.
How do you do this? Besides interacting with them on social media and in comment sections, keep up to date on what’s relevant. Set up Google alerts for companies, industries, and topics that are of interest. Follow your customers, prospects, and industry leaders on social media, and get involved in the discussion.
If you’re listening, you’ll want to keep the communication a two-way street. If possible, every comment directed to you should be answered, even with a thank you, and all questions warrant some kind of response.
Your content marketing strategy is a conversation in the making. Content that’s interactive is more likely to draw an audience. They are going to feel a connection to you, and this connection could help you develop a relationship. Guess who they’ll think of the next time they want to buy the very thing you sell?
Good luck with your content marketing, and stick around for more from a real human. I can even pass a CAPTCHA test without squinting.