5 Ways to Sabotage Your Content Marketing

Step one: don't plan.


by Dave Robson

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It can be a challenge to do content marketing well. It’s also pretty easy to screw up content marketing. Be sure to avoid these ways of sabotaging yourself.

The See What Sticks Approach

In the digital space, it’s tempting to jump on the latest trend. Everyone’s doing long-form video, so do that. Wait, everyone is on Tik-Tok. Or soliciting user-generated content on Instagram. Wait, no, they’re sponsoring creators on YouTube.

There’s always something new—new platforms, new approaches, new markets. But it’s a mistake to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Instead, take a minute, do some research, and come up with a plan. This way, you won’t be spinning your wheels.

The Hard Sell

If you look at some of the good content marketing we highlight, you’ll see content that might be entertaining, informative, irreverent, interesting, or some other enticing adjective. What you won’t see is a hard sell.

Dyson’s science and engineering challenges for kids don’t make a hard pitch for you to buy a new Dyson vacuum. Wendy’s tabletop RPG is full of jokes and rules but not full of reasons to buy square burgers. This small business’s images of the floor plans of famous TV houses doesn’t include a list of reasons to buy a new roof from them. You get the idea.

People don’t like a hard sell, which is why content marketing shouldn’t do it. And when they do, they’re funny about it. Example: this small burger joint’s welcome back from quarantine rap.

Ignoring a Call to Action

A Call to Action (CTA) is a short bit of information at the end of a piece of content that tells your audience what to do next. Like and subscribe. Sign up for our newsletter. Click here to learn how to buy. Remember when we said that content marketing shouldn’t have a hard sell in it? Well, a CTA shows your audience where to go if they want a hard sell (or if they’re ready to buy without one).

Poor Promotion

Every piece of content marketing should come with a plan to promote it on social media. Period.

It’s true that organic reach is important. It’s true that if you make good content that sometimes it’ll go viral. But you can’t count on things going viral. Build promotion into your plan.

And after you’ve built promotion into your plan, make sure you plan on repurposing your content or promoting it once again in the future.

Failing to Evaluate

Once your content is out in the world and gathering clicks or buys, the cycle isn’t complete. At some point you need to evaluate how well (or poorly) you’ve done. Gather some data. Do some analysis. Identify strong points you can return to. Identify weak points you can improve or eliminate.

Remember, without evaluating a past content marketing plan, it’s hard to improve in the future and easy to stagnate.