Why You Have No Business Doing Content Marketing

If you’ve been hanging around with me for a while, you’ve come to know this blog as a trusted source of insights about why content marketing is the future.

So the following statement may cause some heads to explode, but I’m gonna say it anyway:

Content marketing isn’t for everybody.

No, I don’t mean there are some businesses for which content marketing won’t work. Quite the contrary: Connecting with current and future customers through engaging content can benefit any organization of any size and in any industry. That’s as true today as it was when the John Deere company launched its own magazine in 1895.

But there are some personalities that just aren’t cut out for the content marketing life.

In my six years running this business, I’ve seen a lot of clients come and go, and I’m intrigued by the many reasons offered by those who choose to end our relationship. For some, their teams have ramped up to the point where they can do it all on their own (happy reason); for some others, an industry crisis has simply eviscerated their budgets (sad reason). And then there are those who, no matter how many webinars they’ve attended, just don’t get it. Despite my best efforts to set expectations and to educate them, they don’t get how content marketing works … or if they do, they don’t have the stomach for it.

So if any of the following conditions describe you, you might want to think about quitting this whole content marketing thing and going back to your banner ads:

1. You’re Looking for a Quick Fix

As my friend Jon Buscall famously said, Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign. It. Takes. Time. No, I’m not talking about a few weeks or even a few months. You could realistically be looking at a year or more before you start gaining some traction, and there are no shortcuts.

Looking for ROI from your content after a couple of months is like going to the gym for a couple of weeks and then asking, “Hey, where’s my sixpack?”

2. You’re Paranoid

I once had a client who nearly drove me nuts by rejecting any social media post connected to someone whose brother’s next-door neighbor’s second cousin once shook hands with a competitor of his.

Folks, if we’re going to build any kind of credibility, we need to be generous about sharing useful, insightful third-party content. I agree we don’t want to send a ton of traffic to our direct competitors, but we need to think of the audience first. If we’re torn between sharing content that will make our audience’s lives better on one hand, and giving a nod to someone who may meet some loose definition of a competitor on the other, the audience has to win. We owe them that much.

3. You’re Cheap

Producing good content takes skill, time, and effort. And yes, that means it’s going to cost you, either as internal costs (ramping up your team) or external costs (hiring an agency). Trying to do it on the cheap usually involves one of two things:

  1. Skimping on quantity
  2. Skimping on quality

Neither of these will serve you over the long term. If you only publish one blog post a quarter and one social post per month, you’re giving people way too much time to forget about you in between. And while low-quality content may be good for a search hit or two, it won’t keep people coming back.

4. You’re Needy

This is the client who lives and dies by the number of blog comments and Facebook Likes we get in any given week. The marketer who insists on posting inspirational quotes every day on social media “because they get soooo many Likes!”

Sure, what we do bears some similarities to a popularity contest, but it’s not about that: it’s about serving our audiences and building relationships, day in and day out.

Here’s an example from my own experience as a follower: Whenever I see a post from Problogger pop up in my news feed, I stop scrolling and give it a look. If it’s something I want to know more about, I’ll click on it and read the post. I honestly cannot remember the last time I clicked “Like” on one of Problogger’s posts. But they are getting my attention, and they are getting my clickthroughs.

We have to consider that some audiences are simply quiet: they may or may not “Like,” comment, or share our posts on social media, and they may or may not leave comments on our blog posts. Does that mean all this is pointless? Hell no.

5. You’re Lazy

Remember when you were a kid and you begged your mom for a puppy? If she’s like many wise moms, she may have said something like “Remember, you’re going to have to feed, walk, and clean up after it. Every. Single. Day. For the rest of its life — not just for the first three weeks while it’s still new and fun and cool to have a dog.”

I feel like I have the same talk with every single coaching client, and most of the time, they actually listen. Then there are those who come on like gangbusters when they first get started, and then … well, those weekly blog posts turn into every-other-week posts, which turn into once-a-month posts, which turn into … [sound of crickets chirping]. Then they stop seeing results and become one among the faceless masses who throw up their hands and say “Content marketing doesn’t work!”

Hey, I get it. Life is busy, especially for overworked marketing teams trying to get by in today’s fast-paced environment. But content marketing is like that little puppy: it demands daily attention, whether you find it convenient or not.

So, do any of these traits remind you of someone you know? If so, you might want to help them better understand what it takes to succeed as a content marketer. And if they still don’t get it … well, there are always banner ads …