As all IT business leaders and marketers know, content marketing is no longer the new kid on the block and many are doing it well – i.e. it’s helping to drive regular inbound leads. However - we’ve found that if left unchecked - and if there has never been a proper strategy put in place, poor habits can slip in.
Whether you are a business owner responsible for marketing, or a seasoned marketing professional, these five content personality types are a quick and effective litmus test to run over your content and make sure the content you're putting out is working for and not against you.
1. We are great - just ask us!
You might know the acronym: FIGJAM. We've all met those people at work functions, parties and pubs who – given the chance – will literally talk about themselves for hours.
The business equivalent of this is a very common mistake when producing content marketing. It has a lot to do with tone and intention.
It's perfectly fine to come across as confident and knowledgeable. In fact your audience hopes you are both of these things.
But – and here is the marketing psychology nub – they only want you to have these qualities in relation to what they need.
That motor mouth in the pub? Dull as dishwater if they are talking about how they renovated their own bathroom on the weekend. Grippingly fascinating if you are about to start your own renovation and they have genuine tips to pass on. It's all about context and relevance. Keep these in mind when creating any content.
A great example of this is Linkedin - they always hone in on content that is incredibly specific, high in relevance and almost seems to give away in-house secrets it's so valuable.
2. The Die Hard (try hard) approach
This is a kind of hostage approach to content marketing where the message is: buy from us or else! The 'or else' is usually the threat of dire consequences rather than an actual threat of harm (now that's a marketing approach we've not yet seen) but it has the same effect.
It makes your readers feel uncomfortable, pressured, beholden, worried and most likely, a bit defensive and resentful. They think they are about to read a piece that will help with a problem they have or shine light on a business challenge in a new way. Instead they end up feeling cornered and sold to.
The lesson: be wary of mixing sales with marketing. Of course you can have a simple call to action. If your content has piqued interest by all means, let the reader know how to contact you and what you can offer.
But that's it. Don't go hard sell, use scare tactics or insult your reader's intelligence. Remember content marketing is primarily about relationship. This builds trust which can then lead to more focussed marketing and eventually sales. Trust in the buyer cycle and don't push too hard at any point.
We love Hubspot’s content because it doesn’t feel like their content has a sales purpose – rather they know who their buyer personas are and target them with really relevant, informative content.
3. Would you like a [keyword phrase] with that?
Most ordinary humans are now aware of SEO. It's tricky territory. Because while we all WANT our preferred search engine to show us the most relevant content when we seek it, we also inherently distrust tactics employed only to do that.
In short, if your clever SEO and keyword stuffing gets your content to page one, but then the content itself is mediocre, you actually do more harm than good. Readers will be put off, seeing that you care more about search engine algorithms than quality content and are unlikely to engage with what you have to offer.
Without digging the boot in too much, we've all seen those plumbing or car sales websites that have a list of [insert service here] with every suburb within 50 kilometres of a major city listed. It's painfully obvious this is purely for SEO purposes and immediately taints the quality of that site and the business.
4. The excited puppy syndrome
How many emails greet you each morning? How many do you automatically delete (thinking: I must unsubscribe from that list)? How many do you star to read later? How many stop you in your tracks and make you read start to finish over your first coffee?
We are all at the mercy of information overload. Content marketing adheres to the laws of diminishing returns. An inspirational quote or short, sharp, funny anecdote might be something people are happy to see every day from the same source. An earnest article about trouble shooting SaaS is more likely to be welcomed once a week (or less).
There are no set rules here. Know your audience. Do your research. Find out what is most useful to them and deliver content in as close to that manner as possible.
The Content Marketing Institute does a great job of mixing up their content marketing with a variety of post types, lengths and subject matters, meaning audiences always have something fresh to read.
5. Too cool for school
This is less common but can still be a problem, particularly in the IT realm. It's a strange phenomenon where content marketing is too remote, too obscure, too technical or simply too dull. You get the sense when reading it that the person who wrote it doesn't really like or care about their reader or can't be bothered taking the time to understand them.
This is why it's so important to have a team approach to content marketing. Have reps from other business areas contributing to your content ideas, either embedded or in a consultative way, especially those who are in the field with your customers. Sales team and product managers are useful in this regard as they are at the coal face and will have valuable insights into what will resonate with your customers and what will leave them cold.
If you are at the beginning, or are a long way down your content marketing journey, get an overview of how effective your content marketing strategy is, and see how you compare against other companies. Take our quick (and free) B2B online Marketing Assessment.