Stephen Bush is a business writing expert and Navy veteran. Steve earned an MBA from UCLA and is based in Ohio.
Preventable Content Marketing Problems and Practical Solutions
All content marketing strategies have at least one common denominator: They can be objectively evaluated according to their level of effectiveness. In a perfect world, this should mean that effective content writing and marketing techniques (also referred to here as “strategies that work”) will be increasingly used while ineffective approaches will be phased out or avoided.
Although the potential efficiencies of the Internet might seem to promise less ineffectiveness, in all too many cases the exact opposite scenario often prevails. For example, both traditional blogs and press releases have arguably reached a point exhibiting very little positive momentum—so why are they still in use at all? Of course, the answer almost certainly depends on who is talking or writing! In my opinion, readers and listeners should beware of marketing viewpoints expressed by parties who have a vested interest in the status quo (like those who make money from publishing press releases).
My “bottom line” in writing this article is twofold:
- To highlight practical and workable writing (and content marketing) solutions
- To provide a critical focus on obsolete and ineffective content writing strategies. One common theme is featured throughout the discussion — actively avoiding problems (especially recurring and preventable ones).
My viewpoint about what “works” (content marketing strategies that are effective solutions) is primarily based on observing the ultimate audience: consumers, investors, readers, and potential buyers.
In my view, the number of ineffective and obsolete business writing and marketing techniques currently in use frequently equals or exceeds the strategies that work. While I will include key examples of both, the starting point is seven of the most effective content marketing solutions.
7 Examples of Workable Content Marketing Strategies
- Educational Content
- Think Outside of the Blog
- Customer Centric
- H2H (Human to Human)
- Personally Created Textual Images
- Enhance Communication and Content Research
- Doing Things Differently
Content is the atomic particle of all marketing.
— Rebecca Lieb
1. Educational Content Such as Extended Articles, White Papers, and Case Studies
One suggested way to simplify what constitutes “educational” is to substitute the word “helpful”—as in helpful content. Content marketing that always strives to help and educate potential consumers is a winning strategy.
As straightforward as that might seem, a disappointing portion of what appears on the World Wide Web falls far short of this suggested mark. In the effort to “close the sale” and produce immediate revenue, many marketers have lost sight of truly educating and helping their audience.
Social media posts that are often as short as 140-280 characters have possibly skewed how today’s Internet users interpret information appearing online. While it is true that articles do not need to contain thousands of words to be educational, will 15-35 words be enough to be broadly helpful to potential buyers of a service or product?
In my opinion, some forms of business writing are better-suited than others when attempting to educate (and help) readers of written content. Three such examples are case studies, white papers, and extended articles.
Think about changing the mantra from Always Be Closing to Always Be Helping.
— Jonathan Lister (LinkedIn)
2. Thinking Outside of the Blog
Blogs in one form or another are widely used by individuals and organizations to communicate online information about people, events, processes, products, and services. Creation of the basic blog strategy was one of the earliest techniques used to nurture the growing popularity of the Internet—this eventually expanded to a crowd-mentality idea: “Everyone should have a blog.” Even though the blogging concept contributed mightily to the growth of online traffic, this is nevertheless an aging (and almost ancient when expressed in computer years) communication and marketing solution.
Some contemporary strategies such as inbound marketing continue to feature the use of blogs as a core element. To compound the problem, using blogs has led to a variety of questionable and ineffective marketing attempts such as content spinning and blog networks.
Please keep in mind that blogging was initially a primary marketing strategy designed to give people an ongoing reason to actively use the Internet. For example, the working ideal that blogs should be regularly updated provided a “frequent flyer” mentality that inspired blog publishers to post daily, weekly, or monthly. However, the artificial frequency of making blog posts bears little or no relationship to what potential customers are actually expecting or looking for when they are searching for written information about any topic of interest.
Here is my condensed advice: beware of relying on blogs (in any format) to accomplish marketing goals—think outside of the blog.
Successful inbound marketing requires more than a blog. The role currently played by blogs appears to be lagging behind what customers are expecting when they search for information.
— Stephen Bush
3. Customer-Centric Content Marketing
In customer-centric marketing and writing, consumers are at the center of the sales process—the customer is in charge. This concept is in direct contrast to traditional advertising and cold-calling sales techniques that can be referred to as marketer-centric—the marketer is in charge.
With the obsolete approach to content marketing, the seller determines how and when potential buyers will receive details about products and services. For example, a cold call (an unsolicited call from a sales representative) relies on the seller following a script-like approach that establishes the preferred order for revealing features, benefits, advantages, and prices to the potential buyer.
In comparison, customer-centric content marketing strategies facilitate consumers who want to be in charge of the buying process. In some crossover to the initial example of a workable content marketing strategy described above, most customer-centric content is also frequently viewed as educational and helpful. Because of this, white papers, extended articles, and case studies are primary examples of content marketing that is customer-centric.
Consumers consult an average 14.8 pieces of information before making a buying decision.
— Ben Tyson (Google)
4. Human-to-Human (H2H) Content Marketing
Marketing concepts like B2C (business-to-consumer or business to consumer), B2G (business to government) and B2B (business-to-business) have proliferated for many years. The practical limitation of these strategies is that they frequently overlook the human element.
A viable method for prioritizing the human aspects of content marketing is to replace impersonal processes like B2B with an emphasis on personal communication—this can be referred to as a human to human (H2H) process for marketing and communicating. After all, buying decisions are ultimately made by one or more individuals (H) rather than by some faceless organizational entity represented by a B, C, or G.
This restructured approach to marketing represents a significant change in marketing mentality and philosophy. Ignoring the H (human) factor is similar to sales managers insisting that consumers will accept a cold-calling marketer-centric approach to sales because the marketers have decided that is what works best for the marketer organization.
The obsolete solution (traditional B2B-C-G) uses a perspective that is built on what is thought to be best for the seller rather than what the buyer expects or prefers (H2H). Which approach do you think will be the winning content marketing strategy in the near future?
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High-quality web content that's useful, usable and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online.
— Kristina Halvorson
5. Original Textual Images
An original textual image is one that the writer or marketer personally creates to communicate key concepts discussed in the accompanying written content — examples include the introductory image and GIF image (changing terms of engagement for business communication) used in this article. The idea is to provide one more way to get your point across to busy readers and potential customers.
You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.
— Lee Iacocca
6. Improve Content Research and Enhance Communication
Most customers are expecting “more,” especially when they review marketing-related content. Strategies for meeting these high expectations include the following:
- Emphasizing content that is geared to prospective customers rather than search engines and SEO optimization.
- Reducing sloppy and distracting content by avoiding recurring mistakes.
- Including more detailed information.
- Eliminating careless claims.
- Enhancing the communication process by making it easy for potential consumers to work with you.
For number five shown above, provide multiple ways for people to get in touch or find more information — including phone, email, social media, and other websites.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
— Peter Drucker
7. Do Things Differently
A high percentage of readers scan content. Many potential consumers prefer watching videos and other presentations instead of reading lengthy articles. A different approach that is not always doable on some websites (including this one) is to prepare a brief SlideShare presentation.
This allows readers to watch a presentation at their own pace. To keep it short, a suggested length is 10 to 20 slides. These presentations can be embedded in WordPress websites and many other places online. For websites that do not include SlideShare capabilities, I recommend converting the presentation to a YouTube video (see the end of this article for an example).
In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.
— Coco Chanel
|7 Content Marketing Strategies to Minimize or Avoid|
Promotional Content with Misleading Claims
Conventional Press Releases
Blog Networks and Traditional Blogs
B2B, B2G and B2C Strategies That Lack a Personal Touch
Duplicate or Non-Original Images Like Stock Photos
The Old, the New and Staying Ahead of the Competition
Avoiding obsolete strategies (“the old”) is a mandatory element when creating web content that will be effective. Producing feasible and cost-effective business writing solutions (“the new”) also requires staying one step (or more) ahead of competitors with content marketing that is different — human-to-human, educational, helpful, and customer-centric.
Content marketing that always strives to help and educate potential consumers is a winning strategy.
— Stephen Bush
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Stephen Bush
Ryan Jarvis Cornelius from Atlanta, GA on June 30, 2019:
This article is very impressive. It is also informative. I am studying to become a content marketer myself. I love the part written saying think outside of the blog. I love it because I am often hearing and reading that a blog is a huge part. I agree but wanted to understand how will things go to think outside of it because I am a creative thinker. This article helped greatly. Thank You!!!!