By Joe Pulizzi published June 20, 2011

Bad Content Marketing: 20 Reasons For It

  1. It’s all about you. Your customers don’t care about you, they care about themselves.  We often forget that point when we describe how wonderful our widget is (that no one cares about).
  2. You are afraid to fail. Taking chances with your content and experimenting a bit reveals the possibilities for your content marketing and uncovers new customer stories.
  3. You are setting the bar too low. Your content marketing should be the very best in your industry…better than all your competition and better than the media and publishers in your space.  How can you be the trusted expert in your industry if it is not?
  4. It’s focused on tools not goals. First identify your return on objectives and coordinate the success measures (key performance indicators) for each content team.
  5. Not sourcing correctly. The majority of brands outsource some portion of the content marketing process. Don’t be afraid to find internal content champions and outside journalists, writers and content agencies to help you tell your story.
  6. Silos. Are you telling different stories in PR, corporate communications, social media, email marketing, etc.? (see #12)
  7. You don’t seek out discomfort. Seth Godin states in his book Linchpin that if we don’t consistently step out of our comfort area we are doomed to the status quo. Each quarter, do something completely unexpected with your content.
  8. No call to action. Every piece of content should have a call to action.  If it doesn’t, at least recognize it as such and the real purpose behind why you developed the content.
  9. Too focused on one particular channel. Stop thinking email newsletter or Facebook.  Think about the problem you are solving for your customer. Then look to tell that story in different ways everywhere your customers are at (check out this social media publishing model for more).
  10. You create a backup plan. There is try and reiterate…forget the backup plan. A backup plan (i.e., pay-per-click or sponsorship) is admitting to fail before you begin.
  11. Not thinking like a publisher.
  12. No content owner. Hire or develop a chief content officer.
  13. No C-level buy in. Organizations without C-Level buy-in are 300% more likely to fail at content marketing (source).
  14. Not immersed in your industry. Everywhere your customers are at, you need to be there (online, in print and in person).
  15. Not niche enough. You need to be the leading expert in the world in your niche.  Pick something that is both meaningful to your business and attainable.
  16. Setting up the wrong measures for the right people.
  17. Too slow. As much as I hate to say it, speed beats perfection in most cases. Figure out a streamlined process for your storytelling.
  18. Inconsistent or campaign driven. Your content marketing is a promise to your customers.  Think about the morning paper (if you receive it)…when it doesn’t come on time, how upset are you?  You need to have the same mindset with your content marketing.  Distribute content consistently and ON TIME. Develop your content marketing editorial calendar.
  19. Not thinking with search in mind. Most of your website traffic probably comes from search engines.  If we tell pieces of our content with search in mind we stay focused on the problem and how customers communicate that problem. We also get found!
  20. What’s yours? List it below.

Find out the answers to literally all of these issues at Content Marketing World 2011.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Nick Stamoulis

    Content marketing should be done on a consistent basis. Sometimes the hardest thing is dedicating the necessary time to creating it. It’s extremely important to develop a strategy and stick to it.

  • Emily Carter

    Your content is too “sales-y.”

    This goes along with your #1. Constantly tooting your own horn makes it blatantly clear that you’re not interested in conversing with your client base–you’re trying to push your product on them. Sales-y content might as well be no content; neither will impact your customers.

    We also wrote an article on how Sales has changed over time. You can read it here Hope you enjoy!

  • Kent

    The very first thing we have to focus on is relationship. Building a great content is building a relationship with readers and customers. Content is just another form of communication. We have to focus on how to use content to build our companies relationship with our customers. If we lost it, we fail.