This Question Comes Almost Verbatim From The Mouth Of A Prospect I Spoke With Recently.
These days it’s hard to read three words without someone telling you that the key to marketing success is to crank out content. Great content. Epic content. And of course, frequent content.
So if you’re busily blogging, podcasting and social media-ing but still not getting the leads you want, you may be wondering why you’re investing all that time and effort. You may be discouraged by the whole thing and ready to check out of content marketing entirely.
If that’s you – if you’re creating content and not getting results – hang tight. I’ve got a few reasons why that may be happening so that with a few adjustments you can see the success that everyone else seems to be talking about.
Great Is Not As Great As You Think It Is
When we give birth to words we sort of fall in love with them. Let’s face it: writing is hard. So when those words finally flow from our figurative pens, we pat them kindly then let them fly free into the world to be loved and adored by all.
But just because we think something is great doesn’t mean it actually is. We’re inherently biased to think that what we produce is pretty good. For the perfectionists among us, this can be especially challenging because we spend so much time… perfecting… that when we do finally publish something we’re super committed to it.
So if you’re working hard on content but not seeing results, it may be time for a dose of tough love. Is your stuff really as good as you think it is? Or is it a bit scattered, badly spelled, lacking personality?
Get a second opinion – preferably not your mom’s or spouse’s. Find a colleague or honest friend who can look at your content and tell you truthfully whether it’s really all that.
Take a look at what your competitors are producing. Are you leaving them in the dust when it comes to quality, usefulness and even pure delightfulness?
If you’ve got even a nagging doubt then it might be time to call in a professional. Find an editor or copywriter who can objectively review your content to check for trouble spots like second-grade grammar, incomplete or confusing concepts or just boring text.
Great Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means
I worked with a client once who was a regular content-producing machine. He was getting a ton of traffic to his blog. His comments and shares were through the roof. It seemed like he had really figured out the formula for “great”. There was only one problem…
In his case the problem wasn’t that he’d turned a blind eye to his own shortcomings, because he really was producing some great content.
He just wasn’t producing it for the right people.
His topics were human-interest, personal and engaging. Sadly, they were also devoid of any real connection to the services he was trying to sell. So people loved what he wrote – for all the wrong reasons.
The problem with “great” is that there is no direct line between it and “leads”. You can, actually, have less-than-stellar content and still generate leads if you’re hitting the right nerve with your prospects.
I know people who can’t be trusted with a keyboard – whose writing is full of typos and eyebrow-raising grammar. But that gets overlooked because people connect with the concepts.
I don’t recommend giving up on good writing but I do recommend taking a good, hard look at whether you’re sending the right message to the right people.
We had a similar challenge here at Web.Search.Social a few years ago. We produced some pretty thoughtful, researched and “great” content. But we weren’t seeing the leads we wanted because we didn’t have our audience straight.
We were “writing in the bubble”.
People like us – in our industry, who spoke our lingo – loved everything we put out there. But people in our industry don’t hire us.
Once we realized our mistake and started talking the language of our customers, we started generating real leads.
So even if you have the best content this side of the Mississippi, if you’re not getting leads then you need to step back and consider whether it’s speaking to your audience.
First, be sure you know who your audience is.
Then, dig deep into their problems, fears and questions and talk about that stuff.
You’re Confusing Traffic With Leads
True story: the traffic to our Web.Search.Social blog is just about half of what it was two years ago.
That sounds like a major fail.
But when you stop to consider that two years ago we were getting about zero leads and now we get them almost every day, the traffic doesn’t seem like such a problem anymore.
It’s not uncommon to conflate traffic with leads. When you look at your Google analytics and you see that flatline, or worse, a dip, you may get discouraged and think your efforts aren’t paying off.
This is also true of blog comments and shares. Nothing is worse than staring at your Twitter counter and wondering why only three people have shared the post you spent hours perfecting until it was a brilliant piece of lead-generating magic.
My advice to you: don’t be sucked in by vanity metrics. The only real metrics that mater are dollars. If low traffic plus three shares plus no comments equals leads, then your math is ok.
You’re Promoting It All Wrong
If you’re not promoting your content then it doesn’t matter how great it is. Nobody will ever see it.
To use a cliché, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it…
You get the point.
When it comes to content, you need to be your biggest fan. Beyond simply creating it, you need a systematic way to promote it. That means email, social, carrier pigeon… however you can get that content in front of people you need to do it. A lot.
Some people don’t like to post their business stuff to Facebook. Get over it.
Some people think it’s “too much” to post their content to every social network at once. Get over it.
Some people don’t want to be self-promotional. Really get over it.
You have to promote. If you’re not doing it then sit down right now and plan out how you will. The social networks. The directories and blogging groups. The email campaigns.
And remember that just because you promote it once doesn’t mean you’re done. The blog you wrote today should be fodder for your promotions for days and weeks and months to come.
On the flip side, be mindful of how you promote.
Each social network has its own points of irritation. For example, few things are as annoying as someone messaging me on Twitter and telling me to read their blog. Or download their book. Unless you’re going to send me a free box of Oreos, don’t promote anything directly to me.
On Facebook, it’s easy to get irritated by people who do nothing but shove links into posts, devoid of personality, commentary or anything useful whatsoever.
I don’t know why, but authors seem particularly vulnerable to being annoying. Someone must have told authors that it was a good idea to constantly quote themselves and their glowing reviews and the advice stuck.
If that’s you, stop. You can promote without being annoying. You just have to remember to be human.
Are you still wondering why your content marketing isn’t yielding the results you want? Do some soul searching and figure out why you’re missing the mark. I bet it’s one of the reasons right here on this list.
And if you need an objective opinion, let me know. Creating content is one of my favorite things to do and if I can help you use it to get more business then that’s a win for everyone!
Join the discussion 15 Comments
I wish a proverbial ton of bricks had fallen on me years ago, Carol Lynn. I’ve been writing and writing and writing content that my “peers” enjoy, share, and appreciate. Although I love my colleagues to pieces, they’re not the folks who are apt to hire me. Oops. BIG boo-boo. So happy you’re getting the message out about “why” someone may not be getting rock solid leads through their content marketing efforts. Your post is bound to be a light bulb-illuminating experience for people like me who’ve been producing content for the wrong audience!
That sounds exactly like us. Other marketers were very pleased by our writing but I’m not sure it’s the competition we wanted to please…
Sometimes you have to live and learn, right? And apparently we’re not alone. I’ve heard from a bunch of people who read this and said…. whoa! You’re right! 🙂
Seems a lot of us have a lifetime enrollment in the School of Hard Knocks. 😉
I am just going to say this: why the heck don’t you have a book out yet? Everyone and their mother are cranking out E-books – most of which spout the same stuff with no personality, but still get read and reviewed.
We need your genius and heartfelt content, Carol!
(If you have published a book and my lazy eye missed finding it, please let me know. I shall grab it ASAP and recommend it to all #HUGSS )
You’re right, everyone DOES have an ebook… which is part of why I don’t. I would really not want to repeat more of the same so it would have to be something great! But if I ever do go down that road I will surely put you on my list for beta readers 🙂
Hello Krithika! I’m glad you asked Carol Lynn the big “e-book” question. You’re brave. 😉 Honestly, I like the Marketing Game Changer Kit idea much better. There’s nothing wrong with e-books and I’ve certainly downloaded a million of them over the years. But it seems everyone and their pets have created one. So I think using an e-book as a marketing tool has become a stale strategy. Now a “real” book, on the other hand, is REALLY what Ralph and Carol Lynn should write!
Marketing Genius. OMG I never read a post like this. Hey Carol Lynn, I need to have marketing lessons from you. Tel me how to get connected?
Hi Chis, so glad you found this helpful. Shoot me an email through the contact page on this site and I’ll send you my personal email. Or if you’re on our mailing list you can reply to any of the emails you get from us. Thanks!
Yeah I’ll. Be my Guru. I wanna be writer. I need your help. I hope you’ll help me out.
i enjoyed reading your article, Carol Lynn. Partly because it was well written but also because you made some very good points. It’s easy to get caught up in writing stuff for the wrong audience when it generates good engagement but without the ROI, it’s probably a waste of time unless one is just doing it for the fun of it.
You said it! And I love how you explained it because engagement does not always equal ROI. It’s sometimes not even close.
Hi Carol Lynn.
This post sounds like where I’m trying to get out of at the moment. I’m getting great comments and shares, but not much else.
Recently I’ve been analysing the very things that you mentioned. Now I have ideas for future posts which people will still want to read, but connect with my services. As a result, I’m giving my site yet another redesign, then hopefully I’ll have a better 2015.
Sounds like you’re on the right track. It’s easy to get lost in the attention if you’re getting lots of shares and comments. You think you’re writing the right stuff. But even though it’s popular it may not be making you money! Definitely focus on what your customers want to know in relation to your services. I bet you’ll see a change.
Everybody thinks their own content as great because they created it, when you jump into the readers perspective, you will come to know the truth that, there so many good articles than yours on internet, thats why Google search robots work to find good information on readers perspective.
I agree to your thoughts in this article, thank you very much for sharing this.
Yes, we all think we’re pretty good! Sometimes we are and sometimes…. there’s always room for improvement. The proof is whether or not we’re seeing results!