Creating content for the sake of creating content is useless and expensive.
I talk to marketers and CEOs on a daily basis, and this is something I see over and over again:
“What does your content strategy look like?” — I’ll ask.
And they’ll say…
“Well, we do some social media stuff. I also share things on LinkedIn from time to time. And we write on our blog for SEO when we have time. We also pay a PR firm to get the word out there.”
“But what results are you getting out of this?”
“Horrible. It doesn’t work. At all. The problem is _____________.”
Fill in the blank with any excuse you can think of:
“…there’s too much noise to stand out.”
“…we don’t have enough time.”
“…our team is too small.”
“…a dog ate our content strategy.”
“…we don’t have the resources.”
At the end of the day, all we see is a large percentage of companies half-assing their content marketing and wondering why they’re not getting results.
They blame the game, not the player:
“Content marketing doesn’t work.” No — content marketing does work. But you and your team suck at it. THAT’s the problem.
Over the last two years, I’ve worked with CEOs to create more and better content. I’ve audited the content marketing strategy of hundreds of companies and I see the same mistakes over and over again.
Here are the 5 reasons why you’re not getting actual results:
- You don’t fully know WHY you’re creating content:
Content marketing is a long-term game.
Any “expert” that tells you that they can get you results immediately is either not an expert or a liar.
When you invest time, effort, and money towards creating high-quality content, you’re making an investment towards your personal or company brand. And no brand gains awareness, trust, and equity in one week or one month.
If you need sales tomorrow, go try your luck with paid ads. But content won’t be for you.
And here comes the challenge:
I see plenty of teams decide they want to do content because they read some blog on Medium, try things for a couple weeks, get no results, and… give up.
The root cause of the issue here is not that they had the wrong expectations or that they were impatient.
The problem is that they don’t 100% and whole-heartedly believe that content marketing is the right play.
Because when you go all-in on something and fully know it’s the right move, you’re willing to stick it out — even if you don’t get results immediately.
- You don’t (really) know who you’re talking to:
The one question you should be able to answer without hesitation is who your target audience is.
And it should be extremely specific; the more people you try to talk to, the harder your content marketing strategy will be.
Answers that won’t work: entrepreneurs, or business owners, or marketers, or recruiters…
Answers that will work: B2B CEOs with companies between 10-50 people and $2-20M in revenue in NYC and San Francisco.
I’d say 50% of companies give you a general answer. The other 40% give you a more specific answer.
And the top 10%?
They research and learn everything there is to know about their target audience:
They know where they hang out online, what content they like to consume, their favorite pastimes. They understand their problems, their fears, their goals…
You need to become a creepy, obsessed ex.
- You aren’t realistic to your available resources:
“Should you create content for just one platform, or go omnichannel and try to be everywhere?”
I get this question often, and the answer is very clear:
Yes, in an ideal world, you’d create content for all channels to increase brand awareness and hit pockets of your audience that are only in one platform.
If you run a large company, you should 100% be on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tik Tok, your blog, Medium, Quora, a podcast, etc.
But most people don’t have luxury.
If you don’t have a few thousands of dollars to spend, I’d rather you go deep than wide.
It will be a much more solid investment (time or money) to choose one thing and double down on it rather than half-ass more than you can chew.
How do you find that one thing?
Reverse-engineer where your audience hangs out online.
If they love LinkedIn, go there (yes, even if you think it’s boring). If they love listening to podcasts, start one. Instagram? Go there.
Go wherever they are, and focus on what’s giving you the 80/20 results.
- You don’t listen:
Think of content marketing as a conversation between you and your audience:
Every time you post a piece of content –a tweet, an IG post, a podcast episode…– you’re talking to them.
And right after that, they will talk back to you.
If they ignore your content and you don’t get any engagement, that’s the market saying “we didn’t like this one, try again.”
And if they really enjoy that piece of content, they’ll also let you know through likes and comments.
Now, I’m not saying engagement is the end-all be-all. But it’s the market giving you feedback.
But please, don’t look at the micro. Just because one piece of content didn’t do well doesn’t mean you should never touch that topic again. Or vice versa, just because it did well doesn’t mean you now only talk about that.
Look at the macro, after you’ve posted 100+ pieces of content… what are the general trends you see? What types of questions are you getting? What are the common topics that your audience appreciates the most.
Don’t be an asshole, and listen to what the market tells you. Then adjust and iterate.
- You’re putting your ego over tangible results:
This might be the biggest killer of content marketing strategies because it goes against human nature.
As individuals, we want to be liked and admired. We want to be recognized. And we definitely don’t want to be made fun of.
And that’s exactly why most people create content with the wrong goal in mind:
We focus way too much on how many new followers we’re getting. How many likes did we get? How many views? How many retweets? How many shares?
We put our ego over results.
Instead of wanting to be popular, how about we care more about ROI and making money?
Last time I checked, you can’t pay rent with followers. But you can with cash.
Actually, my most viral article has over 300k views on Quora. Do you know how many leads I generated from that? 0. But I’ve gotten big deals from LinkedIn posts that had under 100 views.
The best way to shift your perspective on this is to change how you measure success.
Instead of your KPIs being content-performance based (views, engagement rate, comments, podcast download, etc.)…
…focus on strategy-performance KPIs:
- Inbound revenue generated
- Inbound qualified leads
- Meaningful conversations with your audience (through DMs and comments)
Whatever you optimize for, you’ll get.
Optimize for likes and you’ll write platitudes that people engage with but won’t buy from.
Optimize for revenue, and your business will grow.
To sum things up, make sure you:
- Fully know WHY you’re creating content so you don’t give up too early
- Deeply research your target audience so your content really resonates with them
- Audit your resources and adjust your strategy so you go deep vs wide
- Listen to the feedback the market gives you so you can adjust and improve over time
- Optimize for results and don’t feed ego so you see an actual ROI from your content
That’s all and thank you for reading.