Fifty Five and Five

The nine circles of content marketing ideas hell 

Do you ever feel like you are living the same day over and over? If you’re in charge of your organisation’s content marketing ideas, there’s a chance you might feel like you’re stuck in a type of creative purgatory. Content marketing has become ubiquitous. Everyone is ‘doing’ it. Your competitors are doing it, which means you have to do it. And because it’s a ‘must have’, it means if you’re not careful it could become a rote, meaningless, box-ticking exercise. And if we live our lives simply ticking boxes, we could begin to lose meaning…do you ever feel like you are living the same day over… 

This article covers the cycles of repeated content marketing ideas and mistakes you can all-too-easily doom yourself to if you are not careful.  

 

1. Constant wandering  

In a marketing context, ‘wandering’ means acting without a plan. Creating and deploying content just because you feel you should, instead of having a clear idea of exactly what it should achieve, or who it should be ‘for’ is likely to be a waste of your time and marketing budget. 

Instead of endless, costly wandering, embark on your grand adventure with a map – a well-defined marketing strategyIt will set out where you are, where you need to go, and the best way to get there. If you need a hand with that, the keen cartographers at Fifty Five and Five have created an end-to-end-guide to marketing strategies to help with your mapmaking.  

However, even your best attempt at a marketing strategy will probably fail if you’re 

 

2. Lacking vision 

Your marketing budget may not extend to teaching the world to sing or hiring Oscar-winning director Ridley Scott, but that’s no reason to resign yourself to just one format. Think outside the blog. Blog posts are the foundation of many a good content marketing strategy, but they’re just that: a foundation, not the whole house.  

So, you’ve taken the time and effort to create blog content that aligns with your marketing aims. Is your email marketing and social media driving traffic to these posts? OK, that’s the start of a joined-up digital marketing strategy. But what if the blog content wasn’t the end of their journey? What if those articles, in turn, were driving traffic to an eBook, infographic or whitepaper? Or even an animation or video or a podcast?  

All the above could be gated assets’, prompting the user to provide contact details before they’re accessed. That allows you to capture contact information to reach out to leads or continue providing them content. Blog posts are just one tool in your digital marketing arsenal – think bigger and consider all the methods at your disposal.  

 

3. Ignorance 

Understanding all the digital marketing possibilities is one thing. But you also need to understand your audience – targeting your content toward the right people, in the right wayOtherwise you’ve got ‘all the gear but no idea’Think about who you’re aiming to attract: 

  • What’s their typical job title?  
  • What might their professional (and educational) background be?  
  • What’s their organisation’s likely size and industry?  
  • Which specific business problems are they trying to solve?  
  • What factors are likely to persuade – or dissuade – them?  
  • Do they prefer Oasis or Blur? 

Researching and developing in-depth customer personasand putting yourself in their shoes and their mindsets, is crucial to knowing and really reaching your audience. What type of rhetoric will they respond to? Are they fact-heads’? Do they wear their decisions on their sleeves? Or is your character or ethical behaviours the most important factor?   

 

4. Boredom 

Your content should provide valueIt should be useful and informative to your audience, and it should present your business as a good choice for their custom, a thought-leader in your field, or simply a helpful, friendly standout voice in a crowded marketplace.  

You’ve established your content’s purpose, the forms it should take, and who you want it to speak to. Now, you have to make sure those people want to listen. Otherwise, it’s all for nothing – and you’ve come too far, conquering three circles of content marketing hell, to fail now. At this pointa lot is riding on your storytelling 

This is where your research and strategy will need to pay off. It helps you cut through the noise and reach potential customers with relevant and interesting information that grabs and holds their interest and resonates with them. And it’s also a matter of craft. Just like a well-made website or image, well-written marketing content takes time and skill. Underestimating that, or generally failing to ensure content is engaging, is a sure-fire recipe for failure.  

 

5. Unrealistic expectations 

It’s fair to expect results from your marketing content, but patience is a virtue and impatience can very easily be your ruin. Beware of expecting too much, too soon, and giving up because these expectations aren’t met.  

Some organisations see content marketing merely in terms of one-shot campaigns where certain content assets either deliver easily quantified results within a certain time or they don’tThis ignores the subtleties of the brand/buyer relationship, wherein a reader may not simply be persuaded to get in touch and sign a contract after reading one (albeit really good) eBook or blog post.  

Instead, think in terms of curating content, a digital presence, and a relationship with your audience. That’s why it’s called lead nurturing – it’s not a fishing trip where you’ll hook or net a wealth of leads ione outingIt’s a garden to be cultivated. Don’t become disheartened if it doesn’t bear fruit right away.  

 

6. Worshipping false idols 

By that, I mean the great and allpowerful Google. Don’t get me wrong – SEO is a very necessary part of ensuring a good harvest of website traffic. But sacrificing everything to please the Almighty Search Engine is a mistake too many make.  

Letting SEO alone dictate the direction of your content is fraught with peril. It’s painfully obvious if every article on your blog is framed around hot search term. That’s especially true if these articles don’t really resonate with readers at the right level and on the right topics. For example, if you’re a Microsoft reseller creating content around the Office suite, writing an article called ‘What is Excel?’ or ‘How to write an Excel formula” isn’t going to impart a sense of thought-leadership and expertise, or bring in the right kind of site traffic – in this case business decision-makers rather than end-users looking for help with spreadsheets 

And on a line-by-line level, in your eagerness to search-optimise your content, you could find yourself crowbarring in every keyword under the sun. ‘Keyword salad’ isn’t palatable to any reader and visible to even the untrained eye. Subtlety and restraint are your friends here. Tick the boxes for Google without putting off your human readers. After all, it’s their approval you really want in the end.  

 

7. Gluttony 

You know what I said about lacking vision earlier? The opposite can also doom your content marketing to failureTrying to do too much and spreading your efforts too thinly could land you in a mess and mean none of your content achieves the impact you want it to.  

Bombarding your audience with a mass of emails, social posts and blog articles means the things you really need to stand out won’t. ‘If everything’s important, nothing is’. In an already noisy marketplace, you could just be adding to the static instead of offering decisive clarity.  

This is once again where the value of a solid, well-defined content marketing strategy comes to the fore. When all your content and other interactions with your audience have a clear purpose and fit into your overall marketing plan, nothing’s fighting against anything else and everything’s working as it should do. Otherwise your prospective customers will find it all hard to digest.  

 

8. Fraud 

In Dante’s epic, this circle of hell contains hypocrites, flatterers, falsifiers and thieves among others. It also includes fortune tellers – not sure what Signore Alighieri would have thought of predictive analytics and data scientists, but perhaps that’s a topic for another article.  

Unlike its 14th century predecessor, this circle of content marketing hell focuses less on the act of being fraudulent and more on the appearance of it: in other words, selling too hard. You know your product or service is great and you want to shout its benefits from the rooftops – that’s only natural. But you don’t want to appear too insistent or even desperate. 

Your audience is shrewd and if you’re too overt and pushy in your efforts to get their custom, you’ll turn them off quicker than you can say ‘buy now!’ Don’t be the salesman at the cocktail party, as the old expression goes. Once again, have some subtlety and be sure to provide something of value. That way they’ll trust you, your business and your offering.  

 

9. Being too bound to process 

Our final circle might seem to contradict all I’ve said before about strategy and focus but hear me out. Planning and awareness of what you’re doing goes a long way. It’s good to have a sense of purpose, but take the occasional leap, too.  

Go off-piste. Write that off-topic article that doesn’t necessarily promote this or that service but demonstrates passion and insight into your industry. Sticking too rigidly to the schedule might also mean you miss out on making the most of a big topic or breaking news. Surprise your audience and try to keep things fresh (that’s also how you build an audience)Otherwise, they might feel like they’re stuck in purgatory themselves. 

 


Your content marketing could be a delight. Instead, it’s likely a bit underwhelming. We’re not criticising. It’s hard to execute content marketing really well. Because usually it’s a task that’s part of a juggling act with other tasks. It’s a box to be ticked. If only you could devote more time and resource! Well, hopefully this article helped you give it a bit more thought. If  need help improving your content marketing ideas get in touch with us and together we can create something beautiful

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Alex Carnegie

Alex Carnegie

Alex loves writing and technology, so he jumped at the chance to combine the two as a writer at Fifty Five and Five.