Marketing begins and ends with content. We’ve talked about this exhaustively, as you know. But… could you create content that ISN’T good content for marketing? Are there types of content that simply aren’t going to nurture people, provide value to them, and help them along their journey to becoming a customer or client?

Yes. Yes there are. And we see it all the time.

What content could you create that isn’t good for marketing?

As we state in our prior post, Increasing the ROI of Your Content, you can reduce your potential business by as much as 40% – and damage your reputation in your market – by missing the mark with your content. Which begs the question, of course, “what misses the mark?”.

Here are seven examples of content that misses the mark, along with some “cures”:

  1. Blog posts that are a recitation of features of a product or service, or that come across as pitches for a product or service. Blog posts aren’t meant for that. Leverage your blog posts to provide value to the readers. Illuminate a pain point by telling a story. Provide guidance in a particular area. Share your insights on a specific position. Overall, you want to open the thinking of your reader, not hit them on the head with a product or pitch.
  2. Blog posts that close with “set an appointment to learn more” or similar language. Yes, you can have a call to action to set an appointment, but not within the text of the post itself. If you want to have a call to action WITHIN the blog post, create a document of some sort that your reader can download. Your blog readers are likely at the top or middle of the funnel. They’re not likely ready to set an appointment – a definite bottom-of-the-funnel action. Give them something they want in the form of a checklist, eBook, or other document they can download WITHOUT any obligation to meet with you.
  3. Webinars that promise value but are really product demos. This is a hard one, especially for software companies, and we get that. But realize that, unless you wrote and own the software, a product demo can be had anywhere – and without having to register and join your email list. If you promote a webinar in a way that promises value to the attendee, but simply do a product demo, you’ll lose the respect of your audience. Instead of a product demo, share THINKING with your audience. A new way to think about an old problem, a new problem that has arisen with the changes in technology, a position on a problem that you can illuminate further – these will all have more value than the latest feature-fest demo.
  4. Sales literature or product info sheets gated by opt-in forms. Just don’t. Your sales literature – descriptions of your products or services – should be freely available without any opt-in form. Gating your sales literature (putting an opt-in form in front of it before someone can access it) will increase your abandonment rate – the rate at which people leave your site. This is especially true if you are selling a product made by someone else – your readers can get that content “for free” (without opting in) in many other places.
  5. Content that is all about YOU. You are not adding value to your readers’ lives with “We have a new website!” or “Announcing our new VP of Sales.” If you really want to, you could have an Announcements section on your website, but don’t use that content as marketing content. It will fall flat with your readers – right into the “so what, who cares” camp of content.
  6. Content that tries to apply to everyone – and ends up applying to no one. When you are trying to address a very broad audience with a single piece of content, you’ll lose that entire audience. When you try to go broad, you can only go about an inch deep, whereas dialing in your content to a specific audience allows you to go a mile deep (and an inch wide). Being “generic” isn’t good marketing. No one can relate to generic content. No one is generic. Dial it in – get specific for a particular segment of your market – with each piece of content. Get specific with a different segment with the next piece of content. Before you know it, you’ll have built a content library that will allow you to more fully understand your perfect potential customers. And that is when your marketing can hit a whole ‘nother level.
  7. Content that tries to solve everything. Trying to use one piece of content to take people from problem all the way to solution is a marketing mis-step. As we said in the prior post, “don’t boil the ocean.” Take people one inch of the way along their journey. Link them to a post or content piece that can move them another inch. If you want them to move forward a foot, give them twelve inches. When a post or content piece tries to do too much, you end up befuddling your reader – and they won’t make ANY decision because they’re lost. Don’t let them get lost. One inch at a time – remember that.

Overall, your content needs to pass a very important test.

The “So What? Who Cares?” Test

When you are crafting content, whether blog post or a document your audience can download, ask yourself this very important question: So what? Who cares? (Okay, that’s 2 questions – but I think of them in a bundle, so forgive me?)

If your answer to that question is very broad – “anyone who does marketing,” for example, then your content isn’t dialed in enough. Like this post – I expect the people who will care about this post are people who want to get MORE out of their content – or who are not getting ENOUGH out of their content and can’t figure out why. Very specific. I wrote this post for THOSE people, so I can get very deep on the topic without being concerned about also talking to the people who want better results from email, are struggling with their website performance, or are just learning how to do marketing. (We have other posts for people in those camps.)

Think about your SEGMENTS and how you can address them with a piece of content. The answer to your “So what? Who cares?” question should be specific – so you are talking to the right people with the right content – and at the right depth.

Remember, trying to go too broad means you’ll hit nothing. And falling into any of the 7 traps we outlined above also means you’ll hit nothing. If you want your content to perform for you, you’ve got to provide what your readers want to hear – not what you want to say.

Can I get a HALLELUJAH from the choir please?