By Joe Pulizzi published August 24, 2013

6 Common Enterprise Content Marketing Traps to Avoid

content marketing trapsIn the run-up to Content Marketing World, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a number of enterprise marketers who will be speaking at and attending the event. Though some experts have been saying the practice of content marketing has reached its peak, from these conversations, it’s become clear to me that we have only just begun to explore our discipline’s potential.

As content marketing continues to move past the early-adoption phase, we are seeing more and more enterprise marketers start to take our industry seriously. To that point, allow me to share a few of the recurring themes I’ve observed in the content efforts of these larger brands:

They lack a subscription strategy

In a recent conversation I had with the CMO of a Fortune 500 company, we discussed their online content platforms — including one in particular, which the company is supporting with plenty of advertising and social media. Though the campaign has produced positive results, it hasn’t been nearly as effective as it could be.

Why?

The company is switching out its content and creative every quarter or so, but it isn’t integrating an ongoing, consistent content program into the campaign website. As a result, the opportunity to acquire subscribers to their content remains unfulfilled.

Sure, their content has driven millions to their online landing page; and yes, the company has an even greater number of fans than that on its Facebook page. But regardless of these successes, they still have zero subscribers. Just think about the hundreds of thousands of “content fans” they could have recruited if they would have aligned this program with the benefits of a strong content strategy. By layering in a content subscription program, the company could start to recognize what distinguishes subscribers from nonsubscribers (e.g., Do they buy more? Are they prospects or customers? Are they “better” customers? Do they stay longer as customers?). It’s a missed opportunity that could have been easily leveraged.

They fail to engage brand evangelists

John Adams has been pounding a drum at the Cleveland Indians’ home games since 1973, making him, perhaps, the greatest Cleveland Indians fan around. The Cleveland Indians marketing department has been working with John for years to help share his story. Not only do they produce content about John on the team’s website on a regular basis, they take him along on radio show interviews and help him get featured in Cleveland’s newspaper, The Plain Dealer. John Adams is an inspiration to other Indians fans — and the Indians organization helps to sustain his loyalty and influence.

In enterprise organizations, this type of positioning is often leveraged in case studies — but the efforts stop there. Wouldn’t it be more powerful if they engaged their audience members by providing them with opportunities to submit guest articles, post ongoing videos, share infographics, or otherwise share their own stories in support of the brand?

They still keep their content in silos

Corporate communications, public relations, email marketing, search engine optimization, social media — every one of these groups in your organization has someone in charge of putting the content plan together. Unfortunately in most enterprises, these people aren’t communicating with each other. The results? Stories that don’t make sense to customers, and a lot (and I mean a LOT) of duplicated content efforts.

SAS, the largest private technology company in North America, had a similar problem. The solution? Each of their teams designated a “content ambassador” to be accountable for that group’s content efforts. The ambassadors meet on a weekly basis to review the organization’s content marketing mission, and come up with ways to help their groups work together more productively.

They place traditional marketers in content roles

Content marketing is, in most cases, better suited to the skill sets of traditional publishers than traditional marketers, as publishers are likely to fully understand the role of content and how it links to revenue objectives. In other words, in media companies, if content isn’t driving sales, it’s failing to do its job.

Many traditional marketers take this stance when it comes to media placement of product-related content, but are of a different mindset when it comes to content marketing. This is exactly the reason why I’ve been recommending that enterprises fill content leadership roles with experienced publishers rather than traditional marketers.

They overlook internal marketing goals

In every one of his 13 books to date, Don Schultz, the father of integrated marketing (and a keynote speaker at this year’s Content Marketing World) has talked about the importance of putting internal marketing first — i.e., before external marketing. This may be the single greatest sin enterprise marketers commit when it comes to content marketing.

CMI has recently seen a number of content marketing programs launch without any knowledge or input from the sales team (or other employees). The solution to this problem? All content marketing programs need a concurrent internal distribution program.

Before your next launch, gather input from your employees, and make sure that they are as involved as possible in your program’s development right from the outset. My favorite example: Kelly Services, a Fortune 500 human resources outsourcing organization, asked its sales team members to provide ongoing content through their own LinkedIn accounts. In this approach, sales people have a say in the content efforts that makes the most sense, and are empowered to provide input on Kelly Services’ content moving forward.

They miss out on opportunities to partner with traditional media

There has never been a time where traditional media companies have been more open to content partnerships with brands than right now. This goes beyond native advertising programs, and into co-creation projects as well.

If you are not talking to the leading media outlets in your niche about ways you can help each other, you are missing out on huge opportunities to cooperatively reach, engage, and build relationships with interested consumers.

Joe Pulizzi’s latest book, “Epic Content Marketing,” will be released in September 2013. Preorder it now on Amazon.com.

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.

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  • pamelamuldoon

    Joe, you are spot on with these! As the Social Media & Content Strategist for a for-profit mid-size enterprise level company, what you speak about rings true for sure! Silos are definitely a big hurdle which is also why there is no subscription strategy! The divide of Sales & Marketing is so wide, that this is probably one of our biggest challenges, yet the one with so much potential. The importance of internal marketing is definitely another area that needs work and all companies, small, mid-size or large enterprise have some open opportunities here. Thank you for sharing this list, I know we are not alone, but this helps to see it in writing!

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Pamela…yes, we are all in this together ;)

  • Ryan King

    I love the idea of engaging sales! In most organizations, this is a large group of people who are hearing what the market needs and wants on a daily basis. How do you motivate sales to participate in a content strategy and provide quality content? In your experience, has this been a challenge? Great article!

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Ryan…it’s a good question. Salespeople want to sell more…that’s it. If you can help them, then great. Yes, it’s always a challenge getting sales to buy in (because, we are “little” marketing and they are “big” sales).

      My recommendation is to sit down with them and ask them what their customers’ biggest pain points are. If you deliver with content that can help sales solve those questions with amazing information, and position sales as the thought leaders, they will be yours for life. Not easy though.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    I can’t agree more,Joe.For content strategy to be successful,it needs to be followed by everyone within an organization.Databases that track generation progress and archives that hold written content do little good if people do not use them.Content should not be given a green light for publishing unless is has gone through each step required by the established strategy.

    • http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Barbara…too bad it doesn’t happen more often. But we are getting there…one step at a time.

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