In content marketing, we don’t have anyone to kiss our boo-boos so we’ll feel better when we make mistakes. Instead, we learn from our results in key marketing metrics.
On the plus side, we can use these metrics to figure out what our readers best respond to. As a content marketer by day and actress by night (okay, actually just when I get booked. I just wanted to sound cool), I've noticed that the two fields are pretty similar.
I made lots of mistakes when I first started acting, and as it turns out, content marketers tend to make the same mistakes. After all, you use inbound marketing to promote yourself or your brand, company, product, or service, right? Isn't that kind of like... auditioning?
The next time your content team is planning the good ol' editorial calendar, keep these 3 common pitfalls in the back of your mind. Avoid them and I guarantee you’ll not only have content that’s effective, but the kind everyone will remember.
So, let’s get started—lights, camera, action!
Mistake #1: Thinking Content Is One Dimensional
Ok, let me explain this one the best way I know how. In acting, your character has many layers, and it’s up to the actor to not only portray those layers, but to make them work together as a cohesive whole.
Think Sally Fields in the movie Sybil—okay, maybe not that many layers, but you get the picture. Content works the same way: think of it as collection of related works rather than a series of one-off pieces.
Your content team shouldn’t focus solely on publishing good content, but also on how your content fits in with other areas of your inbound marketing strategy. Don’t get me wrong; writing good content is important, but why should it stop there?
Content creation is multi-faceted, and your content planning should be equally diverse. Work with your sales team to find ways content can help close sales and increase their ROI. Talk to each department about how you can use content to help meet their goals, for example to attract more traffic, convert and nurture leads, earn social shares, or support your customer service departments. The options are endless!
For example, when one of your marketers creates a piece content, think about how it can be used in another form. Do your salespeople find themselves answering the same questions over and over? Sounds like a great source of blog topics! You can even gather pieces of content relating to a single topic and turn them into a piece of premium content. Don’t limit yourself on what you can do, and start getting the most out of your content.
Mistake #2: Not Considering Your Buyer Persona
Look around your office. The content marketers are probably glued to their computer screens. Writing takes time and focus, and many of us have to produce and publish content fairly quickly.
With that sense of urgency, buyer personas often get ignored or used incorrectly. Unfortunately, releasing content geared toward the wrong buyer persona can really mess up your marketing strategy, and no one wants that.
Many times, we get excited about a particular piece of content we want to write. Enthusiasm for your topic is fantastic, but it can cause problems if the content only resonates with you and not your audience. Maintaining focus on writing for your target market can help you come up with intriguing content they actually want to read, learn, use, and share!
Here’s an example. Last summer, I put highlights in my hair. Sounds awesome, right? Well, I went through an acting drought for 3 months and couldn’t land as many parts as I did before. It took me a while to realize that my new look wasn’t appealing to the market I was auditioning for. Guess what happened next?
As soon as I changed my hair back, the gigs started rolling in again. Coincidence? Not really. It’s all about what your target market needs or wants. As an actor, you need to sell yourself to the right agency to catch their attention and show them what you have to offer. The same goes for content marketers catering to the right buyer personas. The content we produce needs to attract and retain our target audiences.
Mistake #3: Trying Too Hard to Sell
Speaking of selling, don't overdo it by aggressively promoting your service or product. One old trick I still see actresses use at auditions is to wear the color red, which they think will make them stand out and be remembered.
While this may be true, it’s been done about a million times. Casting agencies know what you’re trying to do, and so do your potential customers when you use this approach in content marketing. There’s nothing wrong with trying to stand out to make a sale; just don’t be overbearing with your approach.
Here’s another example. When your company sends out a holiday email, it doesn't have to be angling for a conversion of some kind. It’s a greeting! Why not be genuine and show your company’s personality? The holidays are a great time to tell your clients or customers how much you appreciate their support.
Show off your brilliant content by giving your audience a valuable gift. Free ebooks, helpful tutorials, trending gift lists, and funny company photos are all nice. Trust me—it’s a huge turn-off to open an interesting email that catches your eye, only to find that the company is trying to sell you a new product or service. Seems a bit misleading, doesn’t it?
So stop selling and start interacting! Get on social media and converse with your audience. Learn about their needs and find out what they want to know. The successful content marketers you see are the ones who don’t try too hard to sell you something. Your products and services will speak for themselves, so use your time to actually help your audience and develop those relationships.