Common mistakes all new content marketers make

21st Oct 2016

While some content marketers come into the field with formal training in marketing, many others arrive with an English degree, a laptop, and an interest in making money from their own home. There’s plenty of room in the rapidly expanding field of content marketing for everyone who wants to do the work, but if you’re new to the concepts, it’s easy make freshman errors that can devalue your work and harm your reputation before you’ve even gotten started.

Avoid these common mistakes to leapfrog quickly to the higher quality of content writers.

Pitching the product in every piece of content

Clients sometimes request that every piece of content at every stage of the sales funnel be strongly targeted towards completing a sale. As content marketers, it’s important that we remember that content marketing is separate from sales marketing for a reason and there is a good reason to have less marketing in your content.

Content serves a much broader purpose for buyers than just selling. It educates, informs, and entertains at every step of the sales funnel. That looks very different for someone who is just browsing than someone who is about to buy.

Targeting content properly will increase the success of the client’s content marketing campaign.

Writing for a generic client

Storytelling is powerful marketing tool. When you’re first getting started with content marketing, it can be tempting to draft out generic blogs, social media posts, or web page content. Then, once you get a client, all you need to do is plug in their relevant information and move forward, right?

Very wrong.

Every client is different. Experienced content marketers know that even if you’re writing two posts on the same topic for two different clients, the two posts need to be completely different.

Two different clients occupy two different spaces in the same industry. They don’t have the same brand statements, value propositions, or methods of delivery.

Always write for the specific client you’re working for.

Writing for a generic audience

As content marketers, we frequently remind clients that if they think their audience is “everyone,” they’re wrong, and they need to go back to their ideal customer profile and narrow it down. Content marketers need to be crystal clear on this point because clients are occasionally confused.

Part of remembering that the audience can’t include everyone is that you can’t ever write for a generic audience. You need to talk to your client about their audience’s age, gender, family status, formality, and other demographics, so that your content can be directly marketed towards solving their specific problem.

A 50 year old male professional has a different set of priorities when he’s buying a car than a family man in his 30s. Content for one won’t work for the other. You should improve the quality of your posts by adding more test cases and testimonials rather than combining 2 in 1.

Focusing on the client instead of the buyer

When you’re writing content, it can be tempting to make the piece about your client; after all, they’re the one who hired you. It’s important to remember, however, the goal of your content, which is to educate and entice a buyer.

You must always write content targeted towards the buyer, not towards flattering the client’s ego. Occasionally, the two intersect, which is fun for everyone. But more often than not, the two are unrelated.

Using content to lecture instead of converse

Less successful content marketers use content to tell their readers all about the client, and that’s the end of the experience. More successful content marketers understand that content marketing and the social experience of the Internet go hand in hand.

Continuing conversations can be held on social media, in comments sections, or anywhere else that facilitates back and forth dialogue. Great content marketers regularly respond to requests for more information, questions, and comments. Even use their customer stories to build trust and confidence.

Stick to only one format

Great content marketing campaigns are multi-faceted. They include white papers, blog posts, social media interactions – and potentially photo essays, videos, and more. Even if visual formats aren’t your strongest suit, learning how to educate clients about them and outsource them is key.

At the bare minimum, great content marketers need to be on the forefront of learning about new social media channels whenever they arise and assessing which of their clients might benefit from being an early adopter of a given new channel. Not everyone needs a Pinterest account, and an Instagram feed, and an active Twitter profile, but success means determining which channels are important for a given business, and rapidly creating profiles to entice supporters to follow you to the network.

Many of these suggestions feel like common sense once you have worked on content marketing for a little while. Still, they can help new marketers in the field get their bearings. What suggestions would you offer to brand new content marketers to help them avoid common pitfalls?

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