3 Things That Don’t Belong in Your Content Marketing

Don't cross the line into the tawdry territory of advertorial.

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by Dave Robson

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There’s so much great content marketing out there—stuff that’s informative, interesting, thought-provoking, and even addicting. And, ultimately, effective. Sadly, sometimes marketers just can’t resist the temptation to shoehorn their product’s talking points into an article. As you might imagine, that’s an easy way to turn content marketing into advertorial.

Want to avoid that trap? Here are three things that should never go in your content marketing. If you spot any of these in your content, then you’ve crossed that line into the tawdry territory of advertorial.

Product Descriptions

Example: The JOE LUMBERJACK PEACOAT comes in navy or black, sporting brass buttons and a luxurious liner made of . . .

Why no one wants to see it: If simply describing your product were enough to sell it, you wouldn’t be using content marketing.

Better suited to: A catalogue or your website.

Complicated Promotional Plans

Example: With our CREDIT CARDS REWARDS PROGRAM, building up points is a snap! Simply charge your card at one of thirty-two authorized retailors; amounts must exceed $50, except on weekends or holidays, when our Bonus Super Rewards Program kicks into gear, provided you’ve referred three friends in the past eight months . . .

Why no one wants to see it: If you’re selling a boring thing like financial instruments, introducing complicated plans won’t make your thing more interesting to people. And by the way, the kinds of people who like reading the minutiae of rewards programs are the same people who are really good at taking advantage of rewards programs.

Better suited to: The FAQ section of your website, or possibly a Dungeons & Dragons rulebook.

Specific Product Instructions

Example: You can take GENREIC PHARMASUTICAL for quick relief of hives, sciatica, scabies, and the croup. It can start working within fifteen minutes and is safe to take daily for two weeks; simply take two capsules with meals once every four hours . . .

Why no one wants to see it: People barely read the instructions to stuff they buy; why would they want to read instructions for something they haven’t bought?

Better suited to: Product packaging or an infomercial.

So what should you include instead?

Nearly anything else—things that are funny, useful, or entertaining. Otherwise you’re just writing advertorial.