5 Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid


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As a business owner, do you ever wish someone would have told you all the content marketing mistakes to avoid?

When you’re starting out in content marketing, things can get competitive. You want to have every advantage you can over other beginners so you can score repeat clients and build your business.

One of the best ways to set yourself apart is to avoid making rookie-level mistakes. Our list will help you identify some of the most common early-career errors. It will also show you tactics to take so you don’t fall prey to them.

Ideally, our suggestions will become a jumping-off point for you to do the right thing from the start. What you’ll learn will benefit your business as it earns revenue for your clients, developing their relationship and business trust with you for the long term.

 

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You Didn’t Fully Take The Time To Understand What Your Client Wanted Or Needed

 

Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid 1

 

What this looks like: 

The client doesn’t feel heard. To them, your content doesn’t include the part of their business the feel is the most important to their growth. Worse yet, you’re not getting the engagement numbers that either of you was after.

 

How to avoid it:

In advance of your first in-person meeting, conduct some research on your client’s industry and give considerable thought to the kinds of questions you want answers to.

When you take time to think about things, you’ll probably realize that you want to understand who your client’s audience is and where their most profitable sales areas are. You’ll also want to consider what key performance indicators you’ll be using in order to measure the success of the campaign.

In a guest column of Entrepreneur Magazine, Chris Porteous, CEO of Grey Smoke Media writes about the importance of learning about clients. He notes that “Even the most well thought out and catchy campaigns will fall flat if they don’t resonate with the intended consumer, or worse, miss the target audience altogether. . . take the time to dig into your audience analysis and find out what motivates them.”

As you’re having your introductory conversation with your client, ask specific questions that will help you get to know what problems they’re looking to solve. Be sure that everything you’re talking about is as clear as possible, including any industry-specific jargon that either of you uses.

While you’re with them, remember your active listening skills. Maintain eye contact, take great notes, and as you feel that you understand something, repeat what you think you’ve heard. That will verify what you think you know. At the end of the session, summarize the top three points.

Later, when you’re in the process of developing your content, you can go back to your notes again and again. Make sure that your work reflects the main points they articulated to you and the problems they’re trying to solve.

You’re Trying Do Too Many Things 

 

Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

 

What this looks like:

Hopefully, you’re excited by your clients. That’s why you took on their work. When you let your enthusiasm get the best of you, you want to talk about everything they do. Then it can be hard to prioritize the aspects of their business that you want to talk about in their campaign so that they identify the best prospects and convert those into customers.

 

The important thing about marketing brands online is showing the right message at the right time.

 

Another area where you might be trying to do too much at once is in choosing the social media platforms you are planning to work with. Alternatively, you might be committing to posting too frequently on certain social media platforms. This can burn through your time with diminishing returns

 

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How to avoid it:

As you develop your messaging, pick and choose what to talk about. If you try to talk about too much, customers will be confused and overwhelmed by their options and all that the client has. They’ll move on to somewhere else.

 

You’ve got to choose just a few things – we recommend three at the most – to talk about. Pick the things that are most appealing to the widest possible audience. Also, pick things that tie into the problems that your client told you they wanted to solve when you talked to them.

 

In terms of making choices about social media platforms, stop to consider why you are choosing certain platforms or why you’ve gone with a certain posting schedule. A lot of times, less is more. If you ditch outlets that don’t reach your client’s audience, you’ll have more time to focus on the ones that do.

 

An article in Social Media Today highlights this point. In it, writer Julia Campbell said, “We have to know inside and out who we want in our communities…nail down who your choir is – and preach to it. If the choir is singing together in harmony, they’ll bring in others and share your gospel.”

 

She goes on to mention that this is how your social media outreach gains purpose and distinguishes itself from traditional advertising. Learn the best platform early will save you not only time much stress. Social media has various content marketing mistakes to avoid, however, we could probably write a book on that topic…

 

If you’re posting too often during a given day, you might find that a slower schedule surprises you with equally strong engagement numbers. Quality content on selected, strategic areas brings results. Trying to do too much without a strategy burns you out.

 

You’re Not Setting Appropriate Expectations

 

You’re Not Setting Appropriate Expectations

 

What this looks like:

As you’re working with your clients, you are going to be making a lot of promises and setting a lot of expectations. For example, you’re going to be talking about timetables for product delivery, the number of revisions for a product, and engagement metrics that document your results.

Each of these pieces has an easy to reach number, a reasonable number, and a challenging number. If you find yourself constantly quoting a number that’s a challenge, you might be falling for this trap.

Maybe you’re offering to do a project that should take a month or two in mere weeks. Or you’re suggesting that something could go viral. Maybe you’re quoting an unrealistic budget. In any of these cases, you’re probably not respecting the appropriate expectations for the work you’ve agreed to do.

 

How to avoid it:

People-pleasing is a pretty tempting tactic to take when you’re a new business that’s hungry for work. Don’t fall for it.

In this case, the old saying is true: you’re better off if you under-promise and over-deliver project results. In addition, keep setting limits and clarifying what you can do and by when.

The magazine Small Business Trends asked members of its Young Entrepreneurs Council what they do to set expectations and maintain communication with their clients. Their answers include suggestions to outline each deliverable separately. They also advise business owners to walk through what each deliverable means, what it will take to get there, and how it can benefit the client.

One member of the council, Phillip Michael of New York Equity Group, advised all types of business owners that they not be afraid to politely end a discussion if a client isn’t respecting their counsel as they set expectations. “Some businesses are happy to get a deal done and they’ll let a client bully them…they chose you for a reason. If that reason is forgotten, don’t be afraid to walk away.”

Sure, that sounds like an extreme perspective from someone in the finance sector. But remember that you understand content marketing better than the client that chose you.

You know what a job takes to get done and what the appropriate timeline and results are supposed to be based on the scenario you’re working with. You’ve also done the research and you know your client’s business and situation.

If they’re not willing to respectfully work with you, take a minute to rethink the possibilities of working with them. If you decide to take on their business, there’s a chance they’ll be more trouble than they’re worth.

 

Your Work Is Getting Sloppy

 

Your Work Is Getting Sloppy

 

What this looks like:

This can take the form of typos, incomplete sentences, work without a logical progression of thought, poor quality images, or sloppily crafted social media posts.

Specific situations may trigger you to produce sloppy work. Don’t fall for it. Sloppy work is one of the most common content marketing mistakes to avoid.

Be especially alert if your client wants things as quickly as possible. Or if the social media feeds you’re working on is incredibly active.

You may even be seeing activity at the same time from multiple feeds representing different clients. You feel pressured to come up with the right responses.

 

How to avoid it:

If you’ve done a good job of setting reasonable expectations, you should have more than enough time to develop your deliverables and them to check them – repeatedly.

Review them several times, put them down for a while, and then go over them again. Have a second person look at them too, if someone is available. Whatever you do, pay attention to the details and don’t be sloppy.

If it is a situation where social media platforms are on overdrive, don’t get caught up in things. Take a breath and remember that the quality of your posts and your judgment are as important as responsiveness.

 

You’re Feeling Like You Need To Take On Every Project

 

You’re Feeling Like You Need To Take On Every Project

 

One of the most obvious but hardest to let go of is your workload. Learning what content marketing mistakes to avoid early can save your much needed time to apply towards other tasks.

 

What this looks like:

You’re just starting out it is understandable if you feel that you need to take everything that comes your way.

Unfortunately, some projects just aren’t the right fit. The topic might not be something you’re familiar with. Alternately, the workload might be just a bit more than what you feel you can do well, or the chemistry might just be off. Saying yes despite these red flags (or any others) can lead to a host of problems that outweigh the monetary and experience benefits you get from taking on more work.

What are some of these issues? Taking on too much work can lead to stress and it keeps you from doing your best job for all your clients. If that happens, your online reputation could suffer.

In addition, if you feel that the client’s chemistry isn’t right, problems in the relationships could take up time that distracts you from your work, and weigh you down. They just aren’t fun.

No one needs that kind of drama if they can help it.

 

How to avoid it:

Don’t be afraid to say no. Take all the time you need to consider each job. If someone is pressuring you to say yes, tell them that you need just a few days and get back to them with a response expectation that works for you.

Meanwhile, carefully weigh the pros and cons of the job. If after all the consideration you still have reservations, trust yourself. Turn it down. Though it might not always feel like it, there are plenty of other clients out there.

If you’re having trouble finding new clients, try adjusting how you’re conducting your new client outreach so you can grab more possibilities. Don’t fall for having to take work you don’t believe in just to pay the bills. That’s an avoidable trap.

 

Remember, When You’re Just Starting Out, Use Your Resources

If you’re just starting out in content marketing, things can get hectic. It is easy to be so wrapped up in finding new clients and keeping them happy, that you forget to use resources to help you.

This is a mistake too.

Plenty of content marketers have grown successful businesses and they have the experience to help you avoid mistakes. Use them. Connect through online support forums, real-world networking groups, skill-building classes, and online job boards that have resources for creatives.

If you are stuck anywhere, from how to set limits to how to find more client leads that convert into business or how to understand what a client wants the first time, reach out and ask.

Believe it or not, doing this is a much more efficient way of working and of growing your content marketing business.

It keeps you from making the mistakes the first time.

It keeps your clients happy and returning.

And someday, you’re not going to be asking the questions anymore. You’ll find that you’ve learned the basics, are running your business well, and have become successful.

Then you’ll be ready to help someone else who is new to content marketing so that they can avoid rookie mistakes and move on to serving clients well.

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