Top 5 Mistakes Content Marketers Will Make in 2016

One month into 2016 and I hate to kick the year off on a negative note, but there are some mistakes we consistently see from B2Bs as they attempt to execute on their content strategy. The first step towards preventing a mistake is knowing about it early enough to avoid it, so on that note here are some common content marketing missteps (with some advice on how to avoid them).

1. Creating too much content:
Carlos Hidalgo just wrote about this issue on these very pages. He wrote that “…more and more organizations are increasing their spend on content marketing, but only 30% can demonstrate the ROI from this spend.” It is getting easier to get the budget to create content, but without the proper strategy in place it is very easy to focus on the content that does not serve the buyer. When product-focused marketers are the only group tasked with creating content, you run the risk of having that content focus on features and benefits rather than the buyer’s needs at every step of the journey. Creating content shouldn’t be an exercise in volume, it should focus on quality and it should be something the buyer wants to read, not that you hope the buyer will read.

2. Not creating enough content for the top of the funnel:
This one dovetails nicely with the “too much content” problem. Sometimes creating content isn’t the problem, but your lack of credibility as a trusted advisor and partner is a huge issue. Your papers and brochures may do a fantastic job of describing the benefits of your solutions, but if you have not established that you are a trusted advisor that understands the buyer they may be hesitant to invite you to the table.

Years ago when I was working a short stint in B2B sales, I took a course on SPIN Selling, and I still think about the fundamentals of that selling process today. The “SPIN” in SPIN Selling stands for Situation, Problems, Implications, and Need payoff. Many companies create plenty of content talking about the payoff, without showing their buyers that they understand their situation, and the problems they face. And most buyers don’t understand the implications of those problems, and the costs of not acting to correct those problems. If you can create the content that shows that you have insights into the real issues they face on a daily basis, and then help to educate them on the implications of not acting to correct those issues, then you will do a much better job of capturing leads earlier in the buying cycle. You also are positioning yourself as a partner when they are ready to begin the process of change, and that is invaluable.

3. Not outsourcing writing:
If you believe that your value proposition is too complex to trust with an outside writer, than you may need to hire an outside source to help you simplify that complicated scenario. Sometimes the thing that you need to kick-start a stalled content strategy is an outsider to help break down a difficult barrier to communications with your buyers. Getting an outsider’s take on what your company brings to the table can be a creative exercise that will pay dividends in the long run.

4. Skimping on design and creative:
Throwing your new white paper into your old template and relying on stock photos may be easy, but will do nothing to help your content stand out. Having a capable designer create custom images that tie directly into the content is going to increase your chances of getting shared, and will get your content seen by more buyers. Stock photos won’t get noticed, unless you make your way onto this site – which you don’t want.
The Cliches                                                           Photo credit:sxc.hu

5. Lack of diversification:
White papers can be great, and many people like them – but others may download and never read them because it simply takes too long or they are not far enough along in the buying cycle to dedicate a whole lot of time to research. Some people love video content, and are more likely to watch a video than read an article ­– but others complain that they just want to skim some bullets and never engage with video. The thing about content formats is that everyone has different preferences. B2B buyers act in groups, and if you don’t have a wide array of content offers in different formats you may miss the boat on the one influencer that you need in your corner.

Author: Jason Stewart @Jstewart_1 is Vice President, Strategy for ANNUITAS

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  • Yeva Roberts

    Great tips Jason. To your point #3 “Not Outsourcing Wrinting”, I would suggest that often times I see marketing teams rush to outsource writing without putting together a content strategy or brand guidelines. They end up with too much of the same content, too many rounds of revisions and going over their budget significantly.

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