Content Marketing Myths You Need to Stop Believing
The unusual guide to writing great content – Cut out the BS. It’s time to focus on value!
“Content marketing is the only marketing left.”
Just how many times have you heard this line? Endless. And for good reason, of course. The new-age consumer (us) is much more informed about his needs and the options available to him. Why would we get sold a product simply based on a feature set and a discount? We want to see the value in it, we want to be a part of the story where we can imagine ourselves drawing that value from it, and that can only happen with content marketing.
But moving aside from stating the obvious, how many times have you come across content that doesn’t make you cringe?
According to surveys, almost 80% of the companies across both B2B and B2C are now investing in content marketing. But truth be told, just a shy of 50% know what content marketing is really about or if it is helping them grow their business.
They’re just following rote tasks, just like everyone is talking about without understanding what it really is. They’re just following the quote everyone has embellished in marketing cookbooks – Content marketing is for everyone.
I’m not saying it isn’t. I’m just wondering if you even took a minute to read about the origin of content marketing before you put out those 10 blog posts?
Did you even bother to check if those 10 blogs were something that your audience wanted to read?
Wait a minute. Did you go back to those blogs to see if YOU wanted to read it?
Six years. 27 startups that I have either worked with or consulted with (not alone of course, I have an agency – Contensify), and here’s what I have learned…
Everyone wants to do content marketing. Everyone thinks content marketing is about just publishing as many pieces of content as possible. Everyone thinks publishing a lot of content is going to work like magic and get them the sales that have been slacking for months.
Everyone except a few exceptional Founders and marketers I have had the chance to work with or talk to.
When Ann Handley published ‘Everybody Writes’, she didn’t mean everyone should go ahead and start publishing the first thing that comes to mind. You should have read the book beyond the cover and taken notes.
Trust me, I did.
It is one of the best go-to guides for creating ridiculously good content. Content that isn’t haphazard. Content that actually attracts and retains customers, because it is written for them and not you.
But just like the terms and conditions, I think you ignored those golden content rules. You just went on to do what you thought content marketing was.
So I want to congratulate you on two things.
One, congratulations on getting started with content marketing. You’re one of the few companies who understood the value of this marketing tactic and didn’t take too long to get started.
Two, congratulations on adding more content to the digital space. Amidst all the viral news, hilarious memes, and endless short mimicry videos, your content has truly reached the customer you’re targeting as a part of the noise they’re living in.
Sorry not sorry if that felt too harsh. But that’s the truth and deep down most marketers know that their content is going nowhere.
So what’s stopping them from creating better content? The unrealistic expectations and pressures put by companies to get ‘sales’ out of something that was originally meant to help ‘educate’ people.
It’s not just you. I have done it too.
The only difference is that now I know the difference and I’m not afraid to call myself out on it. Yes, it leads to a few altercations with those I work with and this constant fear of being called a shammer. But that’s not it.
That’s why I wrote this.
I’m not going to endlessly talk about what content marketing is. You’ve read plenty of articles on it and there are probably hundreds of books on it too.
I’m here to tell you that everything you think you know about content marketing, is absolutely BS!
Everything you’ve been asked to do as a part of content marketing is BS too!
Let this be your unusual guide to creating great content for marketing!
A quick recap on what is content marketing
If you’re new to content marketing, this page is for you.
If you believe in storytelling and the flow of content matters to you, that’s essentially content marketing and you should spend two minutes on this page.
Either way, here’s a no nonsense definition of content marketing that I learned from the industry pros.
Content marketing is a marketing approach that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. (Spend a minute to read that again please)
Content Marketing Myth 1
No, only publishing more content does not get you traffic. It’s consistency and quality that matters!
How often should you (or your company blog) publish?
You’re going to hear all sorts of answers here.
Some will vouch for publishing more content to get more traffic. Others will recommend publishing ‘when you can’. And then, there’ll be some that suggest finding the right frequency and focusing on publishing quality content.
I fall in the last category.
Content Marketing Myth 2
No, your content does not need to talk about everything in the world. Remain relevant!
Call this experience. Call this a rant. But really, you need to stop thinking that content marketing means you need to talk about everything in the world and post it on your blog to drive traffic.
I usually break a content marketing strategy into two types of content – authority and a traffic puller.
The authority piece usually talks about what the product/ service is solving – preferably directly. And in some cases, indirectly.
The traffic puller is a content piece that is around something that the product/ service’s target audience is talking about. Yes, I’m talking about what’s trending but that does not mean jump onboard the celebrity news track!
For example, you have a product that enables freelancers to send invoices. (Reminds me to send mine. I’m probably running late again)
Content Marketing Myth 3
No, more content does not mean more leads. Your content needs to be funnel-focussed to do that!
If you thought publishing a lot of content was going to get you results, bummer!
Traffic, yes – maybe.
If I gave you 20 content pieces to read in a week, out of the blue, would you consider converting on my email popup? A popup that promises to send you more such pieces in the coming week?
Content Marketing Myth 4
No, the content that works for someone will not necessarily work for you. Where’s your originality?
Another one of the things I constantly keep hearing about is – “Look what they have done. We should do something like this.”
Only that they don’t mean something ‘like’ what they have seen. They mean doing exactly that!
The logic in their mind being – If it worked for them, it sure will work for us too. Oh, how I wish I could tell you how wrong you are.
Content Marketing Myth 5
No, just creating content does not cut it. You need to serve it on a platter to your readers and make sure the plating is done well!
One of the silliest things I have heard is how just publishing content will get someone traffic. In fact, some even go on to claim that it will get them a huge audience, a big subscriber base and start generating leads. I’d like to categorise all of this under assumptions.
Think about it for a second.
How exactly are you hoping for your target audience to find your piece of content?
Content Marketing Myth 6
No, content is not going to work on its own. There’s only so much you can do organically; paid is equally a part of content marketing!
Did the word ‘paid’ in the line above give you an instant headache?
Well, good. You’re ready to have the tough conversation now.
A lot of organizations that start with content marketing believe that there is going to be this sudden influx of traffic and leads. That’s not all. They believe it is all going to happen organically.
Content Marketing Myth 7
No, content creation cannot be 100% automated. You’re talking to humans, not feeding robots algorithms and scripts.
I absolutely love automation. It has helped me save so much time that as a marketer, I could think about activating other channels for a company. In fact, as a marketing agency owner, it has helped us manage multiple products at the same time!
It’s pretty impressive if you think about what all marketing automation can help you achieve. Here are some of the processes it has definitely streamlined for us over time:
Content Marketing Myth 8
No, content does not get you overnight results. It’s not a campaign, it’s a commitment!
Probably one of the silliest things I have heard all these years is starting to expect content to product overnight results.
Have you heard about all those entrepreneurial stories that talk about how there is no such thing as overnight success? Either you’re missing out on the hard work of the success you’re referring to, or that ‘sensation’ you’re wanting to become is a temporary trend that is soon going to die.
Content Marketing Myth 9
No, content marketing is not about just creating super-long pieces of content. It’s about creating value.
When I said consistent, I definitely did not mean you should be creating 5000 words long content pieces every week. Whoever said that in the first place?
Yes, there have been multiple studies showing how longer pieces of content perform better. They rank better. They get more conversions. That’s all true!
But nowhere in those studies did it say anything like – ‘only’ long content works best, you ‘only’ need to create long pieces of content, your ‘only’ focus needs to be writing an essay on any topic you pick.
Content Marketing Myth 10
No, content marketing must not deliver ‘sales’ to be considered successful. You have a sales deck and a pricing plan to do that for you.
Alright, here’s answering the one question I have been asked a little too many times once and for all. The one reason that most businesses believe that not having content marketing strategy in their growth plan is okay – looking at content marketing from a purely ROI perspective.
The logic here is that if content marketing is not delivering direct sales, it is not a success.
Content Marketing Myth 11
No, content marketing cannot operate independently of your brand campaign. There is no such thing as achieving goals in silos!
Yes, content marketing can drive traffic to your website.
Yes, content marketing can help you grow your email list.
And yes, it can help you generate leads too!
But if you, even for a minute, thought that it could replace your branding efforts, let me hold you off right there.
I have seen a lot of brands go awry and think that creating content can substitute the rest of their branding efforts. NO!
Content Marketing Myth 12
No, content marketing is not just talking about what you do. But it is also not talking about spaceships if you don’t make those!
According to a survey conducted by Convince and Convert, more than 50% of consumers absolutely hate companies that are all too promotional with their content. Be it on social media or their own site. The reason being that they come across as too pushy and the consumer is just not able to see the value in their products and services.
And yet, you’ll find a lot of companies making the same mistakes – continually talking about themselves in their content.
Content Marketing Myth 13
No, content marketing isn’t just for any one type of business or industry. It’s for everyone!
I’m sure if you haven’t asked this yourself, you have been asked this question at least a few times.
Is content marketing really for me?
In fact, you may have even come across blatant statements that upfront say that content marketing is not for them.
And OMG. You are so wrong.
Content Marketing Myth 14
Explaining content marketing to your family and friends (and your boss).
Content marketing has been around for a while now. But when the Content Marketing Institute conducted a survey, they found that a lot of organizations were still just getting started with it. These were usually the people who did hear of all the myths listed above and believed in them for so long, that they were either just publishing content all too randomly or were doing nothing at all.
Here’s how to explain what content marketing really is to anyone:
Ask them about the newspaper they read every morning.
Now ask them why they read that newspaper every day.
Most likely they’re going to tell you how it shares information with them that helps them take better decisions on buying stocks, making purchases, planning their days ahead, yada yada yada.
Tell them ‘that is content marketing’.
The unusual quick guide to getting started with content marketing without the BS around it.
1. Stop trying to do what your competitor is
Never said turn a blind eye. But come on, conduct the research to identify what they’re doing, what seems to be working for them and what they’re coming up with.
But stop there. Don’t start copying the whole framework because the idea here is to reinvent the wheel, not recreate the same thing.
Those projects only worked back in college, where you could simply ask a senior for their work and present it to the professor to get a 10/10.