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No publisher or brand thinks their content sucks and, by extension, neither do they believe their content marketing is bin-worthy. But sometimes it is.

If you’ve been struggling with content marketing for several months and it doesn’t seem to be working, the harsh reality is, it’s not them, it’s probably you.

The flip side is that if you know why your content marketing sucks, you can fix it so let’s talk about a few reasons why your content marketing seems to be failing you.

You think content and content marketing are twins

When I ask people who say content marketing hasn’t worked for them what they’re doing, most talk about content production with a wee bit of distribution here and there.

That’s like saying painting doesn’t really work for you because you’ve bought an easel and some paint but the canvas is still blank. You need to learn to work with the colours, try to create something people will want to hang on their walls, find the right gallery to display your work in, and so on.

Just like buying the art supplies won’t instantly turn you into an artist, having tools and potential isn’t enough to make your content marketing a success.

You need to learn to infuse your content with the context that will appeal to your audience, experiment with various distribution channels and tactics, use the power of influencers to get content in front of your audience and so on.

Too many cooks, too few servers

How well would the food in a restaurant with 5 head chefs, each with different levels of experience, skills, and styles turn out? Yes, I’m on a metaphor roll, so to speak 😉  Do you think the food would come together in a coherent menu, with consistently delicious items?

Just like a restaurant’s kitchen is under the benevolent dictatorship of its head chef, content marketing cannot be a democracy.

It needs one owner who is competent and empowered to choose and implement suggestions, opinions, tactics, and contributions translating them into a unified, consistent, goal-driven, audience-focused strategy.

Content marketing cannot deliver results guided by the wishes and opinions of people who have different goals and, sometimes, a completely different job. Neither can it deliver results in a team of one, so you need the support of a wider marketing team and contributors across the business to help strategically distribute your messages.

Few contributors, many repetitions

Boiled down to its most basic components, content marketing is an ongoing conversation between your brand and its audience. For that conversation to take place and keep going, you need to create variation in content and topics; much like you would in a real life conversation; there’s only so long you can talk about the weather.

That means you need the support and expertise of contributors across your business. The more the better because the fewer contributors you have, the more you’re going to have to re-use old content and, at some point, it’s bound to get tedious for both you and your audience.

With the added benefit of contributors from various areas of your organisation, you can not only create variation in content and topics but also enjoy the benefit of being able to create new content by compiling bits and pieces of their insights into new formats that will keep you talking for months.

Your goals are MIA

Content marketing is a goal-focused affair. If you don’t have a very clear idea of where you want to end up, you’ve got little to no chance of mapping out a roadmap of how to get here. Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight, more sales is not an attainable goal, at least not when you’re barely starting out.

So many businesses miss out on the opportunities content marketing can create for them because they focus on a long-term goal, such as more sales or leads, and completely forget about setting achievable milestones between then and now.

Losing sight of the things you need to achieve in order to significantly grow your business through content marketing won’t just make it seem like it’s not working, when in fact it is just not as fast as you unrealistically imagined it would, but means you’ll also miss out on the actionable insights that will accelerate this journey.

The Bottom Line

Content marketing is a complex process that involves content production, distribution, analysis, stakeholder management, repackaging, analysis, adapting content and channels, and analysis again.

Writing content isn’t enough. Blindly publishing content on  your website and social media isn’t enough. You need to follow a strategy that involves understanding what your audience wants, create content that solves a problem for them, not your business and, most importantly, set both short-term and long-term goals that map out a realistic journey that starts today and leads you to increased conversions, sales, leads, and whatever else you’d like to achieve.

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