In the fall of 2015, I joined a digital marketing agency as a content strategist. They had this incredible idea. They would list every local business in the city free of charge on their website. Each listing in addition to the business’s basic information would include photos, business descriptions, and if possible a video.
The aim was to list as many businesses as possible on the website. Meanwhile, we worked around creating a new premium brand to offer our digital marketing services. Let’s call the brand “ninjaG”.
ninjaG started pitching businesses listed on our platform. By winter, more than 300 businesses were listed on the website. However, only 3 businesses enrolled in ninjaG. The business plan failed big time. It was time to face repercussions.
I investigated what went wrong. After interviews with almost every person in the team, I concluded that they were charging too much for the services, in some instances four times the market rates. I submitted the report to the higher management and they rejected it as ‘unreasonable’. I was furious but then I realized: ninjaG’s brand reputation couldn’t live up to the premium price tag it was asking for.
We invested a considerable amount of time and manpower into content marketing to build the brand and now it ceases to exist. I started connecting the dots looking backward and every reason came running to me. We, as a team, made a lot of mistakes
1. Team Got Issues
Either there is a communication gap between your website designers, writers, and mobile app developers, or what is going on in your channels is out of sync with your existing content strategy. There could be so many reasons for this to happen. Your team is full of lazy people who are all about getting their piece of work done and go home.
Possibly, they are a bunch of unmotivated dudes who feel their piece of work doesn’t make a difference or they think the strategy is impractical and was compiled without their counsel.
Perhaps, the writing team and designers have some sort of ego problem and can’t stand each other’s stand on most project matters. Therefore, they often are on a separate path when it comes to delivering the final set of contents.
My ex-employer outsourced the entire design part to a team in Cincinnati while the developers’ and copywriters’ team was still here in New York. This led to a lot of confusion initially and later arguments between the teams—with each team ready to blame others. Frustrated, they gave up on each other.
If, despite putting a lot of resources, your content marketing efforts seem to be going nowhere, look closely at team emails and chats, which will give you a fair idea if it was the case.
2. Your Content Lacks a Style
All publications, digital or physical, follow a certain set of content guidelines, including style, pitch, tone, and lots of examples, as defined in the Writing Style Guide they follow. While two of the most prominent Style Guides: the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Style Guide has been in use since the time print media was widespread, most of the companies, today, create their own Style Guide to make sure the content quality is consistent across the board, across the channels, and their online audience doesn’t feel alienated.
Without a Style Guide, your content structure would be under free fall in the hands of your writing team who won’t be hesitant about experimenting with what goes on your official channels from time to time, which in the end may confuse your audience or destroy your naïve brand altogether. So make sure you have a proper style guide in place before you make them write or create a piece of content.
3. Your Target Wrong Set of Users
In an online world, unlike the real world, people are not merely bifurcated by their age, sex, and country but by their behavior, interest, last purchases, services subscribed to, income, job profile, education background, and even popularity. So, if you’re trying to sell an earphone in sub-$10 categories, target young people, particularly students in their junior year who survive on pocket money.
If you’re not sure, Facebook or Google Ad Manager is a great place to learn: how to recognize and set a target audience for a social media campaign. The rule of thumb is youth-centric and liberal content has a universal appeal on social media, provided it is published with an image or video.
Moreover, casual tone and informal words in a social media post or article targeted to the business community is a big no-no and vice-versa.
4. Too Much Text
There was a time when writing a couple of long textual blogs every week was enough of a content marketing strategy. Businesses literally used to thrive on this minimalistic strategy. But the time is long gone.
Plain text is long and boring and doesn’t appeal to millennials and generation Y much. They are used to rich pieces of content like images and videos. Like they say a picture is worth a thousand words and a video a thousand pictures.
Text on a relevant picture is a trend that has been going around a while now and still going strong. Memes gather more hits than most content on the internet. Did you ever check the weekly meme dump? Google it sometime.
Infographics is a web trend worth talking about. Even leading online publications have started accepting and publishing them. They are informative, textual, and rich at the same time. Seriously, make infographics an integral part of your content marketing strategy, specifically, if you are targeting businesses. Hire a dedicated resource if you have to. They are as important as any other type of web content and lead to conversion more often.
5. Loss of Creativity
Creativity ‘Block’ is one thing but not showcasing creativity out of laziness is a bigger concern than you must address in your content creation team. The brain is the laziest part of our body. It finds a hack, patterns, shortcuts to bypass an undergoing task so that it has to work less and for a shorter duration.
However, creativity requires a person or a team to come up with ideas, designs, and activities previously unthought of. That means the brain has to work for a longer period and has to put more effort. The brain doesn’t want that and, thus, triggers various responses which may lead to a loss of creativity in the long run or for the time being.
Loss of creativity in its content creation team is the biggest loss an emerging brand can suffer from. While we can’t fight the way the brain works, we can work around what triggers such instances of creativity loss. Too much workload is one trigger for it. What about others?
Of course, you have to hire creative individuals to start with. I mean not every guy who works in your office is creative. Once you have a team of individuals who are creative by nature, start putting their fresh ideas into your content marketing strategy. Such a team can easily come up with fresh ideas about what should go in your blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.