6 min read
Content marketing is a necessity for any small business looking to attract more customers.
Because of its impressive ROI, major brands invest heavily in creating engaging and memorable content that speaks to users and their needs.
Just take a look at Nike’s “Sport Changes Everything” video series for an example.
Of course, if you’re just starting out or trying to take your business’s content strategy to the next level, successful content marketing doesn’t come easily.
6 Common Content Marketing Problems to Watch Out For
- Inconsistent Content
- Lack of In-House Resources
- Creating “Single-Use” Content
- Generalizing Your Audience
- Inefficient Business Processes
- Lack of a Distribution Plan
Below are six common challenges to watch out for when building out your content marketing strategy.
1. Inconsistent Content
In order to establish your brand reputation, setting and maintaining brand consistency is crucial. Unfortunately, the more people involved in content creation, the higher the risk for inconsistency in style, tone of voice, or design.
However, you can monitor and fix inconsistencies by conducting regular content audits and creating a brand style guide.
A brand style guide functions like a content handbook for your company. It specifies what you need to include when writing and gives examples of how your brand should look.
Here’s what such a style guide might include:
Grammar, spelling, and punctuation
Consider using established style guides like Associated Press (AP) or the Chicago Manual of Style as a baseline for your brand’s.
This includes instructions on how to use bullet points, lists, hyphens, and quotes.
Tone and voice
If your brand uses a casual tone in posts, explain and give examples of how to use it. You can also include examples of what kind of voice to avoid when writing.
Include a section on how to engage, words to stay away from, and any other details that are important to your brand.
If you want consistent branding, then a style guide is paramount. Anyone at your company can use it as a reference. Moreover, establishing a guide can improve productivity, as your content creators and editors won’t need to spend as much time asking clarifying questions or fixing inconsistencies.
For an example of an effective brand style guide, check out Mozilla.
2. Lack of In-House Resources
Many small businesses struggle with finding resources for their content marketing strategies, as hiring in-house employees can be difficult or impossible depending on your needs and location.
Moreover, hiring in-house staff can be quite costly, especially for fledgling businesses that lack the capital to expand their teams. To make matters worse, a small content creation team may feel pressed to push for quantity over quality, and produce low-quality pieces as a result.
Outsourcing presents a cost-efficient alternative
You can scale your content strategy by outsourcing some or all of your content creation. For instance, that could be:
- Having freelancers draft blog posts, press releases, or white papers for your business
- Finding professional videographers to create your product videos
- Hiring a social media guru to manage your presence on Facebook and Instagram
- Having trained editors proofread and review content written by your in-house team
By outsourcing, your in-house team can focus on more pressing aspects of your content marketing campaign.
3. Creating “Single-Use” Content
Some novice content marketers assume that their work is finished once a post goes live.
Here’s why this is a false assumption:
You waste all the planning and research that goes into making your content when you don’t promote and repurpose it to the greatest extent possible.
Take well-written white papers, for example. You can repurpose these by:
- Distributing them in email newsletters
- Publishing a blog post that summarizes their findings
- Designing an infographic highlighting a white paper’s major takeaways
- Recording a video or webinar explaining the topic
- Creating social media posts containing quotes from the piece
Long-form content, like ebooks and white papers, are among the toughest types of content to produce. This is because they generally require more intensive research and editing.
But by recycling them—and other long-form pieces of content—into different formats, you’ll get more use in the long run.
4. Generalizing Your Audience
Your audience isn’t made up of just one type of customer—and as a result, you shouldn’t use the same type of content or topics for all your marketing campaigns.
For instance, creating a how-to guide for your hypothetical product won’t be very helpful to your long-time customers. Instead, a more appropriate post would be one that discusses alternative uses for your product.
The takeaway here: know who your customers are and what types of posts they would benefit from the most.
You can maintain user interest in your product—even after they’ve converted—by segmenting your audience into different user personas. You might base these personas on demographics, where a user is in the marketing funnel, or some other distinct quality.
Take a look at Garmin’s blog for an idea of how audience segmentation can direct your content strategy.
Known for its GPS and activity-tracking technology, Garmin categorizes its blog posts based on its products’ use across different fields. Doing this makes their blog easy to navigate for users of all kinds of backgrounds.
For instance, avid outdoorsmen can simply click on the “Outdoor” category to find posts most relevant and interesting to them.
Additionally, the wide range of subjects covered on Garmin’s blog—from automotive topics to health to aviation and more—means more targeted content. Content of this nature outweighs generic posts that provide little meaning or substance to readers.
5. Inefficient Business Processes
For newer, bootstrapped businesses, you might find it difficult to assign clear roles and distribute work. For example, one employee might need to handle both marketing and sales.
But when you’re looking to scale your content marketing strategy, you’ll want to avoid this at all costs. The last thing your business needs is to get caught up in inefficient business processes.
Save time with technology
Technology is a necessity for these kinds of situations. Try the following software and services to streamline your content creation and outreach:
- BuzzStream – Manual outreach isn’t the only way to personalize outreach to other websites and influencers. Software like BuzzStream can help automate large-scale outreach while still leaving room for customization. This way, your prospects won’t feel like another face in the crowd.
- Compose.ly – Hiring in-house writers can be expensive, and forcing content creation on employees with mediocre skills can mean less-than-stellar quality. So opt for outsourcing your content needs instead through a content marketplace like Compose.ly for quality content writing.
- HubSpot – HubSpot is a one-stop-shop for all your inbound marketing needs. With it, you can consolidate all your lead generation forms and email campaigns in one place. HubSpot also provides ample insight with its traffic and analytics reports so that you can get a better idea of how your content performs.
6. Lack of a Distribution Plan
Creating content is only part of a content marketing strategy—not the full spiel. Without a specialized distribution plan, your efforts to scale your content marketing will fail.
Unfortunately, when it comes to distribution, many businesses haphazardly push their content on every social media platform out there. When you’ve got limited resources, this is far from ideal for your customers and readers.
In the early steps of scaling your content strategy, focus on just one or two platforms that are relevant to your customers. Then, once you establish a following on these channels, consider expanding your options.
For instance, rather than trying to develop a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest all at once, aim for just Facebook.
Spreading yourself thin can lead to lackluster results across all channels, so it’s in your best interest to keep your efforts targeted.
Content Marketing Problems, Resolved
Scaling your business and content marketing strategy comes with its fair share of roadblocks and hurdles. But you’re not alone in dealing with these growing pains—there are plenty of resources to help.
Where appropriate, consider outsourcing, investing in specific tools, and establishing organizational processes to smooth over these problems.
Addressing these hiccups will ultimately help you make better use of your time and devote attention where it’s needed most.