Skip to content

You Spoke. We Listened. 11 Top Content Marketing Challenges Solved


Whether it’s starting from the beginning (making the case for content marketing) or enhancing your programs (figuring out what’s working), the opportunities for content marketing learning are endless.

As CMI’s director of online training, I have the privilege of working with leading industry experts to identify the most pressing challenges you face and help them create the courses to help you learn on your own time through CMI University.

Today, I share 11 of those challenges, offer a brief tip from an instructor, and provide resources for you to use today and in the future to expand your knowledge.

1. Challenge: Making a case for content marketing

Tip: You first need to create a foundation that’s going to increase the probability that people say yes. The way to do that is to focus on why and who: Why do we want to invest in content marketing? And who do we need to convince of its value?

Remember: People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. So you need to understand why you want to do this, and be able to pitch it, and help the organization understand why they want to do it.

Tip provider: Don Stanley, president, 3Rhino Media

Course: Building the Business Case for Content Marketing

2. Challenge: Finding data about your audience

Tip: LinkedIn is the best tool ever for creating personas because it gives you access to people who hold roles similar to roles held by those you want to become your customers.

Tip provider: Ardath Albee, CEO, Marketing Interactions

Course: How Personas Improve Marketing and Sales Alignment

3. Challenge: Envying other people’s content

Tip: The best content that we see on the web often looks effortless, as if someone just sat down at their computer, created this beautiful piece of content, and put it online, and it’s perfectly aligned with whatever the conversation is about that day. The truth is that that’s not likely. Anything that’s highly produced or anything that’s good content was planned meticulously and most likely went through several rounds of editing. So the challenge for us as content marketers is twofold. We must come up with content that’s relevant to the conversation at the moment in our ever-changing culture. And we must apply resources to our content in order to make it memorable, in order to make it unique.

Tip provider: Dani Fankhauser, journalist, Mashable

Course: Entertaining vs. Thought Leadership

4. Challenge: Creating a story for your brand

Tip: You might think that you don’t have a good story because your brand isn’t that exciting. And if that’s the case, I disagree. Your story doesn’t have to be a whimsical comedy, it just has to be interesting. Your brand is solving a problem or fulfilling a need, and I think that’s really interesting. And interesting is memorable. Interesting is shareable. It’s engaging. It’s inspiring. And it’s relatable. That’s what makes your story so great.

Tip provider: Shelly Bowen, content strategist and founder, Pybop

Course: Breathing Life into Your Brand Story

5. Challenge: Wondering if your story is getting stale

Tip: In order for consumers to start believing your message, they need to hear it, see it, and interact with it three to five times. What that means is that as consumers are navigating the digital ecosystem, you have to have a very specific story that’s compelling, that’s integrated, and that is consistent so that you can fully change consumer behavior.

Tip provider: Michael Brito, group director, WCG

Course: Storytelling for Channels

6. Challenge: Creating visuals that make a difference

Tip: A visual strategy expands your brand awareness and visibility. It influences what others think of you, but it also humanizes your company. So you’re not going to be this stodgy, impersonal corporate entity anymore. Online engagement is all about relating to people. Visuals can help get you there. They are very engagement-friendly. People love them. They can also help you cultivate brand advocates.

Tip provider: Paul Biedermann, creative director, re:DESIGN

Course: Create a Brand Strategy Before Developing Your Visual Strategy

7. Challenge: Becoming a thought leader

Tip: Why does thought leadership matter? True thought leadership is synonymous with authority. It’s also synonymous with attention. If you have the attention of an audience, then you’re a leader already. And great leaders plan, listen, observe, inspire, and then give direction. They continually demonstrate their leadership mindset by freely sharing their ideas through content and channels that help spread them so that they can maintain that leadership position.

Tip provider: Carla Johnson, founder, Type A Communications; co-author, Experiences: the Seventh Era of Marketing

Course: Moving From Content Producers to Story-Driven Thought Leaders

8. Challenge: Looking beyond the sale

Tip: Customer retention and loyalty often get ignored when we’re talking about content marketing, or marketing in general. We focus a lot on acquiring new customers. But content is also a great tool to retain customers, as well as to upsell and cross-sell them.

Tip provider: Hana Abaza, vice president of marketing, Uberflip

Course: The Ultimate Guide to Content Metrics & Analytics

9. Challenge: Getting your content in front of the right people

Tip: It’s amazing to me how some brands can spend a huge amount of time, money, and effort creating great content but invest almost nothing in content promotion. They just sit back and expect the world to beat a path to their content, and it just doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to help your target audience discover your great content.

Tip provider: Doug Kessler, co-founder and creative director, Velocity Partners

Course: Principles of Social Conversation for Content Marketers

10. Challenge: Integrating the right social channels into your promotion plan

Tip: Building momentum has little to do with where you distribute your content. Building momentum is all about when you choose to distribute your content. How are you actually putting together a series of content distribution approaches that end up building momentum for the story you create? I want you to think about maximizing every channel’s reach and influence one at a time. You’ll be able to maximize the reach of your content but also make a bigger impact and create less content over time.

Tip provider: Andrew Davis, author, Brandscaping and Town, Inc.

Course: Momentum: How Smart Brands Turn Regular Content into Mega Success

11. Challenge: Figuring out what is working

Tip: We now report everything, and that gets us into this sort of myopic view of using analytics to prove a point rather than improve our process. I sometimes call analytics WMDs or Weapons of Mass Delusion because we can really make the statistics say anything we want them to when we’re reporting on that many numbers. So I encourage marketers to always look at the analytics from the idea of what action can we take on this metric. That is one of the biggest reasons to only report what is necessary, positive or negative.

Tip provider: Robert Rose, chief strategy officer, Content Marketing Institute

Course: Developing Your Content Marketing Analytics

CMI University winter enrollment is now closed, but visit the CMI University website [LINK:] for more information. Spring enrollment opens on March 1, and we’ll begin new instructor and course announcements at that time. In the meantime, read CMI’s Back to Basics series for a quick primer.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute