If you’re here reading this, you probably agree that content marketing is the smartest way to grow your organization, or you’re at least considering diving into the content marketing game.

However, we have to admit that content marketing isn’t foolproof. Sometimes it doesn’t work. It isn’t because the concept is faulty; it’s because organizations get stuck. They run into obstacles that prevent them from truly realizing the potential of their content marketing efforts. Often, they don’t even realize they’ve hit that obstacle, which makes overcoming it pretty difficult; the first step is identifying the problem, right?


So, to help you pinpoint where you might be going astray, here are five common content marketing obstacles, and how to overcome them:

Egocentricity. This happens when your content has an internal context, rather than one that takes the audience’s context into consideration. In other words, you’re too promotional – you’re creating content focused on your sales messages. You’re trumpeting how wonderful your products or services are. You’re focused on the needs of your own organization, rather than the needs of the audience.

The audience today does not consider this to be valuable. They have too many other content options; if all your organization ever does is talk about itself, they’ll move on to something else. You need to be sure you’re viewing the content from the audience’s perspective.

Misalignment. This is the classic scenario described in Good to Great, where Jim Collins said organizations need to get the right people on the bus in the right seats. When you’re misaligned, you’ve got the wrong people in the wrong seats – people are charged with creating content when it isn’t their strong suit. This often happens when you’re revamping your marketing team and turning it into a content team.

Well, not all marketers are content creators. Unfortunately, the skills that are so useful in a traditional marketing department don’t always translate to content marketing. They’re overlapping but different disciplines, and when you assume that you can easily shift someone to a content creation role, you’ll often throw things out of whack.

Brands need to think like publishers and hire great content creators.

Friction. This is related to misalignment and is typically caused by not agreeing on the charter for content creation – for instance, the sales team might believe you need more promotional content because they didn’t participate in establishing the foundation of the program. That leads to disagreement over content as its created, which puts workflows out of whack and makes it extremely difficult for the content machine to run smoothly.

We wrote about friction a few months back, with some pointers on overcoming it.

Mediocrity. It’s painful to admit this, but your content might not be all that good. Often, this comes from misalignment – the people charged with creating your content aren’t as proficient as they need to be. It’s important to have content creators that are accustomed to producing a significant quantity if high-quality content. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get stuck with content that is just okay – which is content that isn’t going to get much attention.

Lack of audience. Okay, everything is going well, everyone is onboard, the content is good…but no one is seeing it. That’s bad because the entire point is to attract an audience and begin to build trust with it. So here’s the thing – content creation is not the end in and of itself. If you build it, they might not come.

What you need is a bigger distribution effort.

Best practice is to spend 20 percent of your effort on content creation, and the other 80 percent on distribution. That means social channels, media relations, guest blogging and paid campaigns.

If your content marketing isn’t being as productive as you’d hoped or as you think it should be, it’s very likely that you’re coming up short in one of these five areas. Fixing them begins with identifying them, so hopefully this list can aid your diagnosis…and get you back on track.