Crash and Burn! 5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Fails

Icarus flew too close to the sun, Pepsi thought the people wanted clear cola, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos misspelled two words in two Tweets. Greek gods fail. Products fail. Heads of education misspell. Mistakes happen – in life and even in content marketing. But they don’t have to happen in your content marketing. Find out why content marketing fails, so you can learn these lessons instead of living them.

Crash Report: Top 5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Fails

1. Freestyle Content Marketing

Although content marketing can provide platforms where it is acceptable for your brand to take on a more relaxed, fun-loving persona, don’t let the free-wheeling style translate into a free-wheeling strategy.

In an article published by the Content Marketing Institute, Neil Patel outlines the SMART way to set content marketing strategies and goals:

  • Specifically define content marketing goals.
  • You must be able to measure goals.
  • The goal must be attainable.
  • It should also be relevant to your company’s overarching ambitions.
  • You also must set a time limit.

When it comes to content marketing, you should never just wing it. Set goals and put down a written plan for how you will attain them.

2. Sailing a Sinking Ship

When you float your business on a ship of content marketing, making sure its constructed from quality materials and that there are no holes. Consumers are smart and they respond to equally smart content. Some businesses try to pull stunts to trigger emotional responses in an audience like fear-based scare tactics and overly sappy sentimentalism. (Remember Sarah McLachlan and the SPCA?). Although those puppy dog eyes might have made you cry, in the face of this type of content, consumers usually become suspicious of the overly-strong, emotionalized brand message.

Rather than seeking a forced emotional response from your clients, try to inspire them. Focus on communicating what makes you passionate about your business. When your audience detects passion in your content, they will have an emotional response. It’s the difference between a security company’s marketing telling sensationalized stories about break-ins and talking about the rewarding experience of making people feel safe in their homes. Which company would you trust?

3. Don’t Publish Blindly

Before you jump on a new idea, spend thousands in marketing dollars and beam it out to the world and the scrutiny of the internet, do some research. Find out what exactly the meme, symbols, slang or hashtags you’re using truly represent. Let’s not forget the disasters that were Wendy’s avoidable Pepe the Frog blunder or DiGiorno Pizza’s ill begotten #WhyIStayed campaign.

4. Deliver a Consistent Message

Consistency not only means publishing frequently across different media channels, but also pushing the same message on social media, in email marketing, in text and in images. In content marketing, inconsistency can destroy an entire campaign.

Take Levi’s “Hotness Comes In All Shapes and Sizes” campaign. Great message, right? It would have been, if they hadn’t published it alongside an image of three conventionally attractive women of the same shape and size.

Lesson learned: don’t let one part of your message, improperly executed, compromise an otherwise stunning campaign strategy.

5. That Being Said, Don’t Deliver Cold Fish Content

Don’t let your content be so devoid of emotion and personality that your brand loses its identity. Whether you choose to inspire your audience, teach them a thing or two, or make them laugh, your content marketing must do something. You can deliver statistics, but do so with style. You can talk about serious topics, but add a bit of levity. When you go after an emotional response, don’t force it. Use content to build a brand personality and use that personality to connect with your market.

Glitch Happens: What to Do in the Event of Catastrophe

Even if you have a solid content marketing strategy, mistakes can still happen and catastrophe can still strike. Don’t press the eject button just yet. Your business and your brand can come back from blunders. If your content marketing mishap was offensive, apologize and set your reputation straight. If the mistake was simply embarrassing, try poking fun at yourself. Research shows that when a person can laugh at oneself, it makes light of failure, diminishing the actual shortcoming. Laughing at oneself also displays great confidence and helps to build social bonds. (What more do you really want from your content marketing but to build consumer confidence and make connections?)

As Sam Elliott’s The Big Lebowski character sagely reminds us, “Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.” So, put a content marketing strategy into place, and if you make a mistake, remember you don’t have to be a content marketing failure. Pick up the pieces, spell “apologize” correctly and stick with your strengths.

Jennifer G is a full-time freelance writer and editor with a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Montana. She enjoys researching and writing creative content to engage readers and developing professional voices for clients across all industries. She specializes in medical, health, veterinary, and financial writing. Having worked nearly thirteen years in finance, Jennifer applies her experience in the banking industry (marketing, social media management, consumer and commercial lending, customer service, accounts, and bookkeeping) to her writing work within the industry. 


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