This morning, as I recover from the excesses of April Fool’s Day with a cup of strong coffee, I’ve been reviewing storage companies’ web presence, checking out their content marketing, and looking for ideas to bring to my clients.
It was a nice morning. I was feeling good. Everything was going well — until I went to one leading vendor and shook my head in frustration. I had encountered…
Ten minutes confirmed that this vendor just doesn’t understand content marketing. They’re making unforced errors and can’t be bothered to fix their mistakes. Why? I have no idea.
But in the interest of helping marketers with an outsider’s perspective, here are the five major problems I uncovered.
Mistake #1: More is not more
This vendor has 68 pieces of content for a single product. If this was a general purpose product that mapped to dozens of pain points, supported dozens of solutions, and could be used in many different ways, I could understand the content sprawl. But it isn’t. It’s a backup appliance.
Under no circumstances does a tightly focused product that serves one purpose require 68 pieces of content to support the sales cycle. Your content sprawl causes prospects to turn away in confusion and frustrates your sales teams because they have to wade through document after document to find relevant content.
It’s much better to have eight outstanding resources than 68 mediocre ones.
Mistake #2: Antique isn’t an advantage
Glancing through this content, I begin to uncover part of the problem. Some of this content was old. It was for predecessor products that are end of life. I’m not opposed to keeping old content alive, but for Pete’s sake, put it in a support section, or create a legacy product tab on your site — don’t confuse it with current content.
Mistake #3: Mixed messages are misery
If I have a marketing pet peeve, it’s the desire to constantly massage product messaging because the product isn’t hitting sales goals. If I review five pieces of content and find three different sets of product messages, positioning statements, or benefits, it looks like you know something is wrong, but don’t know what to say.
Please stick with your messages for more than three months and market test them before writing content.
Mistake #4: Confusing categories create chaos
Don’t mix types of content together UNLESS you have a purpose. I should not find case studies, white papers, brochures, videos, and technical guides all grouped together in a single category unless there’s a point of connection.
- For example, let’s say you wanted to talk about how your backup software works for Exchange. By all means, create a category called “Backup for Exchange” and in it, publish a couple of white papers, a few case studies, a technical guide, and a data sheet.
- But if I see a list of twenty documents that aren’t connected with one another by workload or market segmentation or geography or some other relevant category, I will get annoyed and change the channel.
Here’s a suggestion: if you don’t have other ideas, then just group white papers together, group case studies together, group videos together, declare victory, and move forward.
Mistake #5: Sad Strategy
Here’s the last one, and it underpins all the others.So many companies use a scatter-shot approach to content marketing that misses the mark because it’s not being developed with a strategy in mind. Understanding your goals, target market, and product benefits helps you build a content marketing strategy without gaps or glaring errors. Often, it’s as simple as connecting the dots for your prospects.
- For example, if you start off your high level messaging by saying that your product addresses six pain points, then PLEASE have content that drills down on each pain point.
- If you’re applying your product to a new customer workload or niche or geography, then please build content to support those applications.
- If your target market is CIOs, then please don’t create a pile of content aimed at IT managers.
So what do you think? Any thoughts I should add? Reach out to me on Twitter (@zbcontent) or LinkedIn with your thoughts.