Content marketing campaigns can fail for many reasons. Maybe the research wasn't thorough enough, the quality of the content itself was mediocre, or the promotional efforts never gained traction. Even the most well-intentioned and seasoned content marketers can stumble at any stage of a campaign, but a more fundamental breakdown at the level of intent is to blame for the nonperformance of online content. Below is the #1 way to fail at content marketing:
1. Create Content Solely About Your Products & Services
Creating content solely about your business, its products or its services is a great way to fail at content marketing. My apologies if you've only been blogging about the features of your widget, publishing white papers about your unique differentiating factors or producing videos that show off your modern manufacturing process. The truth is that you are simply producing middle and bottom-of-the-funnel content.
MOFU and BOFU content have a very important place in the buying cycle, and marketers should take their creation seriously. This content is typically tailored for those who are close to making a purchase. If your intent is to generate leads, however, you're missing a large piece of the funnel.
Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, asks the following in his blog post Content Marketing: The Fallacy that More Content is Better:
"Are customers sharing your content? Are members of your customers' networks sharing your content? Is your content a central part of conversations on the web? Are prospects signing up to receive your content on an ongoing basis? If you don't deliver your content at the regularly scheduled time, are customers calling you to find out where it is? Are influencers creating new content from your old content?"
Hopefully the answers to at least some of those questions are 'yes,' but it's likely that they're mostly 'no' if you aren't also creating top-of-the-funnel, or TOFU, content.
TOFU content sits at the very top of the buying cycle. It's purpose is to generate new leads, and is typically promoted towards those who are not yet familiar with your brand.
The best TOFU content shares two features:
- is brand-agnostic, even when its created by brand marketers.
- solves a problem, even if that means giving away free information
For example: when a financial services company creates an infographic about the stages of their mortgage refinancing process, it's not brand-agnostic. Quite the opposite; it's inherently tied to their brand and how they do things. It also doesn't really solve a problem. It's unlikely that this would generate any new leads, but could help a warm or hot lead move towards the end of the buying cycle.
Contrast that with a financial services company who creates an infographic about effective budgeting. Here, they're giving away their knowledge for free in an effort to help people, even (especially!) non-customers. By remaining brand-agnostic, their content is more accessible to a wider audience and doesn't scream commercial intent. And oh, by the way, this financial services company also happens to do mortgage refinancing.
See the difference? Having only one or two of the three types of content is problematic because it either strands leads at the top of the funnel, or never gets them into the funnel in the first place.
TOFU content is engineered to be shared. Do you think people would rush to share content that shows off a business process, or content that actually solves a problem?
Simply transforming your traditional sales and marketing materials - brochures, catalogs, one sheets - into digital content - blogs, videos, infographics - does not make you a content marketer. What makes you a content marketer is the ability to solve problems with content. When your intent is to serve, and not to sell, it's amazing how endearing your brand becomes to prospects.