By Joe Pulizzi published December 29, 2012

Epic Content Marketing: 12 Things that Stop You from Creating It

epic content marketing hero[Editor’s note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we’ve seen from our CMI Consultants and executive staff. Today’s post originally appeared as Joe Pulizzi’s weekly column on Content Marketing Institute, on May 23, 2012.]

One of the benefits of traveling around the world doing content marketing speeches is being able to talk to marketers first hand about their content challenges. Just in the last 45 days, I’ve done 19 presentations (including one in Pittsburgh on my birthday). Needless to say, I’ve talked to a ton of marketers that are having some painful issues with their content creation and distribution strategies.

When I can, I keep a log in Evernote or on sporadic hotel stationary about some of the questions I receive.  Here are my totally unscientific findings on what’s ailing today’s marketers… and a few solutions to go with them. And, by the way, this is not an all encompassing list. I had a few more written down somewhere, but I misplaced them in Chattanooga.

A sheer lack of editorial calendar usage

Here’s the facts: Most marketing professionals involved in the content creation process do not use editorial calendars. Should I repeat that? My good friend Kristina Halvorson is dead on: Marketers put all the pieces together first, then when everything is done, somebody runs out looking for the content. Someone please go visit the content fairy so we can get some engaging content up in here.

Here are two essential posts (this CMI post and this Copyblogger post) on developing and using an editorial calendar. If you don’t use one, stop the nonsense.

Silo silo silo

I use this example all the time:

I met the email marketing manager from a Fortune 500 company a few months back. She was responsible for creating and managing all the content for their email marketing programs. I asked her how she works with the person who creates the content for their social media channels. Her answer: She had never met or talked with the person.

Ack. How can we develop a user experience with any message consistency if we don’t get outside our silos?

That’s why we advocate for the function of the Chief Content Officer. The chief storyteller. The one that can work beyond, between and within the silos to help the company develop a content strategy that works with and for all of marketing (and, better yet, for the customers).

They haven’t seen Coca-Cola’s “Jerry McGuire” mission statement

Easily, less than 5 percent of the marketing professionals I speak with have seen the Content 2020 videos from Coca-Cola. I’m obviously not doing a good enough job spreading the word. Watch them… it’s that important.

What’s a buyer persona?

This statistic is worse. As far as I can tell, more than 80 percent of marketing pros do not use buyer personas as part of their content marketing process. No kidding. And marketers wonder why the content creators within the organization are often unsure exactly who they are telling stories for…

Here’s a great overview from Jayme Thomason on how to start using buyer personas.

Not knowing what good content is

I had a conversation just last week with an equipment manufacturer that was praising the success of their content marketing program. I asked him, “So, how much of your content is educational and how much is product oriented?

He stated proudly that a full 10 percent of their content is educational or informational.

Would you be surprised that not many people read their blog? FYI, he measured success on the fact that it was being done.

Great content marketing, content that is shared and spread by customers and prospects, is almost never about the company’s products or services. Epic content is all about stories that inform or entertain, that compel people to action and truly makes a difference in people’s lives. It positions the company as a trusted leader. It makes the buying process easier.

Simply put, the majority of the content you develop at all stages of the buying process should not be about you.

Higher purpose

Get one!

Channel first

The channel first attitude is killing our profession. Content marketers are blessed to have hundreds of tools to distribute content with. Unfortunately, some marketers think that the first step in a content marketing strategy is to choose the channel (uh-hum… it’s toward the end folks). What are we doing on Pinterest? Ugh.

First ask the why. Why are you developing the content in the first place? What are the informational pain points of your customers? How will helping customers with these challenges help your business? What are reasonable expectations?

Answer those first, then figure out what channels will work best to distribute that story and start a conversation with your customers.

Lack of content marketing knowledge

Five years ago, there wasn’t nearly enough information available on content marketing. Today, there are some amazing resources, like this site, these blogs, and these books.

No inventory

So many marketers say that they don’t have enough content. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, we all have plenty of content, but we either don’t know about it, can’t find it, haven’t organized it, or it’s not in storytelling form.

It’s like buying a stock without knowing what your current stock portfolio is. It makes no sense.

Start with a basic content audit discovery process so you know what you are working with.

Not enough content?

Start with the link above, then go here. If that doesn’t work, hire a journalist.

How can I measure content marketing?

If you are asking why, and setting expectations, content marketing metrics are available to answer your questions. Start here with our take on Content Marketing ROI.

Internal resources please

Read this from TopRank Online Marketing.

So, what content marketing challenges are keeping you up at night?

Want to learn more about what it takes to create an epic success with content marketing? Read “Managing Content Marketing” by Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi.  

Cover image via Bigstock.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

Other posts by Joe Pulizzi

  • Alex

    Great post. Thanks, Joe!

  • http://twitter.com/CajunCopy Jesse Lanclos

    Joe,
    Great points, especially about needing to step back and ask questions that help you shape your marketing plan. Knowing why you’re developing content, what purpose it serves, and how it’s supposed to help your business could save a ton of wasted time and money on pointless strategies that lead nowhere.

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Jesse…it amazes me the number of companies that don’t yet know their “why”.