The Content Marketing Naughty List

successful content marketing

Content marketing is both a science and an art. Scientifically, you can measure, test, and distill down to the most effective tactics to achieve your marketing goals. On the other hand, there are more abstract concepts that can make or break a content marketing strategy. While mechanics are important, if you miss out on the core principles of successful content marketing, you’re leaving much to be desired.

In light of the impending holiday season, we’ve put together some things content marketers should avoid if they don’t want to end up on the “naughty list”—now or ever. Keep this list handy to avoid turning your audience and prospects off of your brand, products, and services.

Don’t Lack Empathy

Many content marketers think they need to stick to the cold, hard facts to create business content. Not true. In fact, empathy is a core component of successful content marketing. Removing your brand from the focus every now and again in an effort to relate to your target audience breeds compassion and builds trust and relationships.

If the goal of your content marketing is to help your audience solve a problem or fulfill a need, you need to be able to relate to them on that level. No one turns to someone they don’t trust for advice and the same is true for your brand. Focus on relating to your audience rather than forcing them to relate to your product or service.

Don’t Lie or Stretch the Truth

If you implore your audience to take you on as a “trusted partner” but are not completely transparent or stretch the truth, you’re missing the mark. This split-tongued behavior is a recipe for disaster and is also just bad business. Great business relationships and partnerships are built on honesty, openness, accountability, and transparency. Successful content marketing is, too. No and no product or service is perfect, so add some humanity to your content marketing that shows you’re in touch with reality and explains what you’re doing to improve. In some cases, your brand’s imperfection may be the thing your audience finds most relatable. At the very least, being forthcoming about it makes you a trustworthy entity. Being do business with people (and brands) they trust.

t that without reservation. Be upfront about what people can expect, and they’ll view you as a trusted partner.

Don’t Be Arrogant

Marketers toe a fine line when it comes to touting brand image. Sure, we all want to present ourselves and our businesses in a positive light, but no one likes a bragger. In an age where #humblebrag is a thing, be different. Take a step back and own a little humility. It’s a lost art, though one that is greatly appreciated by people when it pops up. In the same vein as honesty, humility isn’t about downplaying your business or benefits, but right-sizing them. It also doesn’t mean you can’t talk about all of the great features you offer. The idea is to be less self-serving and a little more other-serving. Less trash-talking competitors or flexing your brand muscles and more genuine concern for the best ways to help others reach their goals.

Don’t Be Stingy

Open giving should be at the heart of all content marketing. In other words, your primary purpose should be to educate and inform your audience in a way that is helpful and requires little in return. Sure, you may gate some white papers, but if you require people to “ante up” to access every little piece of content you own, you’re defeating the purpose. The purpose behind presenting helpful information is to be viewed as an authoritative, knowledgeable subject in your industry. If you’re constantly asking too much in return for your content, you’re inevitably shrinking your audience until there’s no one left to look to you as a thought leader.

Successful content marketing can be tough in a sea of competitors and digital content. Cutting through the noise means owning your brand story in an authentic way. Aim for clear communication, honesty, and a real interest in helping your target audience. Buzzwords, virality, and pretty pictures only get you so far. Your content marketing should serve as a digital cue to your audience that you stand by your word and your work and that when it comes time to deliver, you’re a reliable option. Keep it simple. Keep it human.


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