There is a mountain of content about all the benefits of content marketing, but a lack of content about any of the risks. Every company out there is telling us that we need content, but what happens when you’re not doing it right? Is it hurting your brand? In this article I point out some of the big risks with content marketing that are hurting many large brands today.
If you are delivering core messages in a way that is not aligned it can create customer confusion, and lead customers to feeling misled. To mitigate that, it is important to align the messages being pushed out through all channels to leads and prospects with the support content channels.
Part of the attractiveness of content marketing is the ability to leverage the knowledge of the whole organization to address marketing objectives. But to achieve those benefits requires focus and planning. Haphazard and misaligned approaches risk the organization talking in too many voices and with conflicting messages, confusing existing and prospective customers.
Many brandsare trying to put out funny messages and create very clever commercials. While this is a good tactic, many brands are straying way to far from their brand, which confuses potential customers. This is also not the best user behavior for Google, and it can really hurt your brand. An example of mis-alignment of branding is when Seven-Up put out ads and commercials to convince mothers to feed their babies Seven-Up instead of formula for a stronger and healthier baby. These types of branding might be funny to some, but are could be very harmful to your branding with your core customer base.
Most enterprises have some form of a brand guidelines document. But how do you know if it is being consistently followed? And if it’s not, which is increasingly likely if content is rapidly produced for many channels without a content governance system in place, then it can damage you brand through inconsistency. In order to prevent against this, you need a central library of approved assets, tagged with the appropriate metadata for search, as well as retrieval that is tied directly to the tools for execution and publishing.
One of the best ways to keep your brand consistent is to have a page like Search Engine Journal clearly explaining what your brand requires of users. This enables writers like myself to know exactly what is required as well as have guidelines for potential contributors to your website.
Marketers have already defined the creation of relevant content as a key challenge of content marketing, but no one seems to pay attention to the risks of irrelevant content. Salespeople know delivering the wrong message at the wrong time can have the effect of ‘talking yourself out of the sale’. That is why it is critical to make sure content is relevant to each stage of the buyer cycle.
According to content marketing expert Brian Honigman,
“Marketers know that to achieve engagement and impact requires relevancy. For the audience this means relevant to their interests in relation to where they are in the buyer’s journey. Another aspect of relevancy is with regard to marketing objectives, making sure you are achieving the right things with your content. To accomplish this takes careful planning and strategy, aligned execution and getting everyone on the same page.”
Lack of Resources
If you aren’t placing enough thought or time into your efforts, you won’t receive much in return. Consumers usually grow bored easily as engaging, fresh content is not available. Typical obstacles to content marketing success involve:
- Lack of fresh content with any consistency
- Use of unreliable content sources
- Unorganized content
- Not promoting content
- Not tracking or measuring results
While correctly implemented, content marketing will have the ability to be an efficient method of communicating with your customers as you generate more productive leads, more website traffic and, most importantly, meaningful audience engagement. Like any strategy for marketing, the results you receive are going to depend upon your original planning and execution efforts and, in the instance of content marketing, ongoing efforts.
Featured Image: Created by author for Search Engine Journal
Image #1: Screenshot of SEJ Content Guidelines page 1/20/15