Why your Content Marketing is Not Hitting the Mark
When someone tells me that marketing doesn’t work for their business, what I know they are saying is “the way we’ve marketed in the past didn’t work for me”.
We’re all busy. We all have limited time, and if we’re going to waste it, it’s far better to do that on a beach somewhere, or out having a good time than in marketing that’s just not working.
Marketing works. That’s a calculable fact. If it’s not working, then there’s a problem that needs fixing. When marketing all works it’s truly a beautiful thing. You get appointments and sales as if by magic. People come in hot to pay you for your products or services. You hit your targets, you have a business that’s growing in the right direction, and all that effort you put in brings you the rewards.
When marketing’s not working it’s frustrating. It can erode your confidence, make you feel like you’re in some weird windowless room where the air is stale, and the money is sparse.
Trying to unpick what’s wrong can sometimes be as simple as making your website more functional or changing some key messaging. But underneath some of the simple actions are often bigger issues at play that can stop your content marketing efforts from working.
The biggest block in getting results is not being able to see how content marketing fits into the whole picture. Marketing fits with your sales pipeline. But it also fits in with your customer service, your goals, your targets and your overall business strategy.
Sometimes the biggest block is that what you’re trying to sell is at odds with a business you innately want to build. This could be the block you need to resolve first.
Once you’ve got your overall goals established and you can see the bigger plan, we need to get a clear action plan in place. Confusion around what you need to do each week is often the biggest hurdle.
The old “throw something at it and hope it sticks” sometimes pays off, but it’s a little like buying a weekly lotto ticket. Having a really clear plan of what content you need to be creating, where that content needs to be and when it needs to be there can be an excellent start.
Content is All Connected
Understanding that our content is all connected helps us see that one area might now work because of things we’re doing or not doing in other areas. For example, if you want to have really effective Facebook ads, you need to work on your Facebook and Instagram organic posting. This is because when people visit your Facebook page from an ad you want to make sure they are seeing good organic content that builds trust and makes them want to buy or support your brand. You also need to work on more segmented and targeted emails.
If you want better Google AdWords, you need to also work on improving your website’s design and copy, and marking it more targeted. Nothing works in isolation when it comes to content. Sometimes one activity leads to needing to work in several other areas too. Especially if you are repurposing content to create multiple different pieces of content.
Sometimes it’s about clarifying exactly who you want to target in your marketing. Unless you’ve got an extensive marketing team, having oodles of “ideal client” types to talk to is a recipe for disaster. It feels like we should open up to the audience when we are stressed and it’s quiet, but often it’s the very worst thing we can do. Instead, we need to get better at talking to them the right way.
This might include taking a firm look at your content marketing efforts and checking if you’re creating quality content that talks to different stages of the buying journey. Someone who’s just discovered your brand needs a different tone and different kinds of content to someone who is about to buy. People who are just discovering your brand are still busy in their research stage, they will need content that engages them and educates and convinces them that you can provide what they are looking for. People who are about to buy will likely need content that focuses on convincing them that your brand is the best brand to buy from and is better than competitors and will offer them benefits etc.
In turn, the people who are loyal customers need a different type of feel and tone with their content too. The better we become at creating a content plan that covers each type, the easier it is to attract the right customers. This is also what helps you keep on track with keyword research to ensure you are hitting the mark and creating content that people are searching for.
When we create content, we always need to have something you want the reader to do. Sometimes it might be to buy or book a time. But it could also be to ask them to respond or give their own thoughts. This engagement helps build your community, it helps drive sales, and it also helps your content go out to more people.
I often find business owners who are creating good content are just forgetting to add a clear call to action in their posts (and making it simple enough for someone to do).
While we’re talking content, the old advice used to be to select the social medias and platforms you think more of your audiences are on. There’s still some truth in this. For example, Google My Business and Facebook are a great combination if you’ve got a locally based business.
However, for everyone else, you can build a successful brand, following and pipeline on any platform you want. The key is to start with the one you personally feel most at ease with. This helps you get over any technical humps so you can focus on content.
A lack of consistency can really hurt you. My strategy is that as long as you’ve got three posts a week going out, and keep that consistent, you’ve got a good base. One or two a week is not enough, and you can post far more, as long as you’ve got the ability to keep it going long term.
If you’re a ‘10 posts one week and then tumbleweeds for the next two weeks’ kind of marketer, you’re just not going to get the results you need, and you’ll also be sending a message to your followers about your consistency and trustworthiness.
I often work with small-business owners who tell me they can’t write. This block can prevent them from creating content that resonates with their audience. Once this block is unlocked, business owners often show themselves to be some of the most effective marketing writers I’ve worked with. Probably because they know their audience best.
When you have an “I can’t do this” block, it’s going to make it difficult to create the right kind of content you need.
This is an important step as more and more small-business owners move towards using ChatGPT and other AI tools to create content. While it can be useful for creating the start of content, it tends to sound robotic and unengaging. You need to remember the real value-adding part of content comes from the human touch.
As soon as I spot AI-generated content these days I’m disconnected. Give me a story told plainly from the heart in your own words and I’m with you. These are also generally far more engaging to read and actually make people (and me) want to read your content.
It’s also good to prioritise marketing tasks in your calendar because that work will lead to sales in the future.
Trust the power of your own words. It’s tempting to grab all the ease of an AI-created blog post, but the whole point is to stand out with your content and become noticed by providing original content. Being the same as everyone else is going to lead to failure. So, while you can use it to save time in research and first drafts, you need to ensure that the end result sounds human and is engaging and targeted to your audience. It needs to sound like you. Quality over quantity is still the winning bet if you are short on time. Its okay to take more time on one piece of content if what you are creating is a quality piece.
How Long It Takes
My normal rule of thumb is that it takes around six to twelve weeks to get a clear result from most marketing efforts. If it’s not showing improvement by then, there’s something that needs to change. Keep in mind that this can differ based on your business. You may have started well and could have gotten great results if you’d kept on persevering, so don’t give up after only a short time.
To build up a steady stream of marketing can take a little longer, and there is a real cumulative effect. If you stop for a prolonged period of time, you will then need to take time to rebuild momentum.
For many small-business owners there is a problem of either not putting enough time or enough resources into your marketing. I often tell business owners to prioritise marketing tasks in their calendar because I know that effective marketing work leads to sales in the future. One of the best things you can do is add regular marketing time into your working week instead of trying to do those tasks at night, or during the weekends.
You also can’t keep your “marketing machine” going without some help. Eventually once your business scales, you will need people to help you with your marketing. People who can help with design, giving you the right advice and all the admin. Some businesses need specialists to help with technical areas like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or with content creation itself.
Tracking Your Progress
I’m someone who combs over analytics. It’s the way my brain works. But even if you are not an analytical person it’s worth taking some time every month to check in. Else, how will you know if your marketing efforts are paying off if you don’t track your results and set goals.
Did your content result in new sales meetings with ideal new clients? Are the comments and interactions from people who are in your “ideal client” zone? Are you staying on track with your content plan? Have you done posts for each stage of the customer journey?
These simple questions can help you make sure that if there are issues, you can quickly resolve them to keep on getting results.
When every dollar is precious, being able to grow your business with organic content marketing can help you both save and make money more effectively. Also you will eventually realise that paid content methods work better if the organic/free content marketing is humming along well.
If your content’s not working for you, take a look at it over the next few weeks with fresh eyes. Look at the areas covered in this column and see if they might relate to how your content is working.
Instead of putting it all in the too-hard basket, perhaps it’s the perfect time to start getting results from your content and grow your organic traffic.
Need professional help & advice for your marketing efforts? We are here to help you. Get in touch with our team today.
Lucille is a marketing expert, specialising in google analytics, inbound marketing, case studies, lead generating and content marketing strategy.