There are lots of checklists and best practices around the best ways to implement your content marketing strategy and plan which are great and super useful. Here’s a great one I always refer to: Content Marketing Best Practices. In addition, I believe having some reference points around avoiding the pitfalls is equally beneficial. There are several potential pitfalls (definitely more than the ones I’ll cover here) though these are the most important in my humble opinion. Here are my top five:

Pitfall #1 – Who needs a plan?

Don’t forge ahead without a plan. Your really do have a strategy if you want to achieve ROI. Everyone involved needs to understand the “why”. You need to have clearly defined goals and understand what you are working to achieve. What metrics are important to you, is it social shares, page views, in-bound leads? What does success look like? What is your content focus and why, what customer needs are you working to address?

Pitfall #2 – Me, Me, Me!

Don’t focus on you – it’s about them, not you. Your customers and potential customers want you to address their needs and concerns, not describe features and benefits. Understanding your customer and your audience is the only way to write content that is relevant to them and will resonate with them. If you want to build your customer base and better relationships with them you have to understand and serve their needs, not yours.

Pitfall #3 – So what!

Don’t produce content that isn’t genuinely useful to your audience. Good content marketing means delivering high quality content that has true value to your audience. What do your customers want to know? What do they need help with? And have a point of view and opinion. The last thing you want is to put out content that triggers a “so what” from your audience. People appreciate content that offers true value and genuine insight.

Pitfall #4 – Once I publish, I’m done.

Not! Publishing great content will generate some form of engagement. Don’t forget that good content marketing is a conversation. If you create great content and share it across your social media accounts then you need to actively respond to comments and questions, acknowledge shares and engage with your audience in a meaningful and helpful way.

Pitfall #5 – It’s all on me.

Don’t be an “island”. Content Marketing is a team effort. Company-wide commitment and collaboration = success. The best content marketers are companies that strategically commit to content marketing across the organization and incorporate it into the marketing efforts as a whole. It’s important to make it part of the company culture. Many companies also recruit writers and contributors from across their organizations to fill out their content needs and address different key topics and points of view.

Content Marketing is Marketing, period. Make it an intrinsic part and the driving force of your marketing strategy. It is an exciting time for marketers of all “shapes and sizes” and for us as consumers too. Hopefully pointing out these key pitfalls will help you navigate your way to success in your content marketing efforts.