Are you making content marketing mistakes that actually weaken your efforts? If you’re publishing random and disconnected content that doesn’t tie back to a strategy, chances are your approach is ripe for a revamp.
In this episode, the GrowthMode team talks about the most common mistakes and how to avoid them by refocusing your efforts on content that has more purpose, impact and resonance with your audience.
Listen now for valuable insights on how to move away from trying to drive demand by being everything to everyone. Learn why focusing on your unique point of view, a meaningful content strategy and reinforcing key messages is so important.
[00:55] Mistake #1: No content strategy
[05:43] Mistake #2: Trying to be everything to everyone
[10:29] Mistake #3: Not reinforcing your unique point of view
[14:24] Mistake #4: Not continually publishing new content
[18:28] Mistake #5: Not sweating the content
[22:51] Key takeaways
0:00:04 Hey, everybody.
0:00:04 It’s Jenny from GrowthMode Marketing. You’re listening to The Demand Gen Fix, the podcast where our team of GrowthModers and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.
0:00:22 Welcome back to The Demand Gen Fix. Today, Deanna, Greg and I are going to be talking about a topic that we all need to be thinking about. The five common B2B content marketing mistakes that you need to avoid. Content marketing is very important. It’s the core of most B2B marketing strategies and it’s a proven strategy for creating brand awareness, building credibility and trust and educating audiences so that when they are in the market to buy, they choose your company as part of their evaluation process.
0:00:55 But many marketers don’t give content the attention it requires to make it actually impactful. Today we’re going to talk about those common content marketing mistakes that we see over and over and why they can hurt your marketing efforts – so why it’s best to avoid them. I think the big one to get started with is number one: no content strategy. I mean, if you don’t have a content strategy, then you don’t have content and that’s a huge mistake.
0:01:24 Yeah, this seems like an obvious one. Of course you need a content marketing strategy. However, I can’t tell you how many marketers and companies we end up talking to in the HR tech space, in the software as a service space, and in the B2B space in general, who, when you dig into it, actually have no strategy. And I was wondering how many companies actually have strategies. So I looked up statistics and the Content Marketing Institute had some research that said only 40% of B2B marketing teams have a documented content strategy, which means the majority, 60%, don’t have anything documented to say this is their strategy. And I think that is a big mistake because without a strategy, you’re just creating content for the sake of content. And I think sometimes that’s pretty obvious.
0:02:20 When you go and you look at a company’s website, it seems like things are very random.
0:02:28 Yeah, I feel like it’s just willy nilly. You’re just like, well, these guys did this, these guys did this. Let’s try that. We call it Random Acts of Marketing. It doesn’t work. It’s all over the board.
0:02:38 Essentially, it equates to content that is random and very disconnected. And I think it also sets the stage for responding to ad hoc requests. Meaning you’re just taking content ideas from all over the place. Like someone pops up and says, hey, have you ever thought about doing an article on XYZ and all of a sudden you’re writing about something on your blog that is disconnected from all the other content that’s on there and it’s not necessarily looked at from the prospect or the buyer’s perspective.
0:03:12 It’s just like, oh, that’s an interesting topic and I don’t think anybody thinks about it when they’re doing it as “this probably is disconnected and random, and not the right topic.” And nobody thinks, “oh, I’m going to write something that isn’t from my buyer’s perspective, but they’re going to appreciate it. They’re doing it with good intentions, right? But as marketers, we all know we
0:03:36 Have a million things going on at once and it’s so easy to let those random acts of marketing slip in. And so having a content marketing strategy, I think, is really important. And our advice to everyone out there is create a plan, document it, and then stick to it.
0:03:57 It keeps you focused and it keeps you honest, and it truly is your blueprint to success.
0:04:02 Something that’s important to think about as you go about building a strategy is to hyper focus your content positioning for your ideal customer profile. And if you’ve done your work with building your unique point of view framework, quite frankly, you’ve already got the key themes and pain points you’re going to weave throughout all of your content.
0:04:22 So, you have no excuse not to do it. And I think it is okay to give yourself permission to say no to those random requests for different content topics, and to really evaluate each thing, even if it comes from the CEO, to determine, does this fit with the strategy? Does it make sense to do it? Is it right for our audience?
0:04:47 the reasoning. And it’s okay to lay out the case for them of, okay, we can do this. I want to explain what our strategy is and what we’re trying to focus on. Is that something you still want me to proceed with? And a lot of times you don’t get to CEO unless you’re a really smart business person. So if you’re able to explain it to them and it’s the right answer to say no, a lot of times they’re going to be like, got it.
0:05:25 Thanks for keeping me honest.
0:05:26 And it actually makes you look really good because you’ve got the CEO’s ear and you’re telling them what your strategy is. It looks better than you just throwing things at the wall, right?
0:05:36 They hire marketing people because they’re not marketing experts, right? Like they want you to be smarter at marketing than they are.
0:05:43 So another mistake that we see a lot is it kind of ties in a little bit, but with the random acts of marketing. But it’s trying to be everything to everyone. If you get too general with your messaging, it gets diluted and you’re going to lose effectiveness of your message.
0:06:00 I can’t tell you how many times I have talked to leaders of HR technology companies and asked them, who is your ideal customer profile? And the response is any company with employees, or any company that offers benefits, or fill in the blank some HR tech type need. And while there may be some truth to that, I mean, yes, if you’re going out and you’re selling a platform that’s about managing employees, obviously anyone with employees, it makes sense that you want
0:06:40 to sell to them. However, the HR tech market is so crowded.
0:06:45 I feel like I’ve said it a million times, there are over 21,000 HR technology platforms out there. Yes, they’re all in different categories. So maybe your category only has, say, 750 competitors. That’s still a lot. And when you think about an HR department, they get an overall technology budget. You’re technically competing for the other type of technology options that are out there as they think about which areas they want to focus on and where they’re
0:07:18 going to spend their money.
0:07:19 Now, imagine being that HR tech buyer. Let’s say it’s the CFO, or it’s a specialist within the HR department, or it’s the HR leader and they’re getting marketed to. And let’s say it’s only ten to 20 of your direct competitors that are marketing to them. They’re going to all sound the same in a lot of instances. Don’t believe me? Go walk the floor at the annual SHRM Conference, or the HR Technology Conference and look at all the booths, and
0:07:54 you’ll see what I mean.
0:07:56 As much as companies want to be different and stand out, they use a lot of the same language and focus on a lot of the same pain points.
0:08:05 It starts to all blend together in the mind.
0:08:07 So I think when you’re trying to be everything to everyone, going too general
0:08:13 dilutes your content effectiveness.
0:08:16 So you really need to figure out who that ideal customer profile is and your unique point of view so that you can focus your message down to a slightly smaller audience, instead of trying to be everything to everybody.
0:08:29 Right. You kind of have to go small to get big. So the smaller and more focused that ideal customer profile is your target market, the more efficient you can be with your strategy. You can differentiate your content by focusing on quality and your company’s unique point of view and not trying to get so big and trying to appeal to every single customer out there.
0:08:52 Right. And understanding what your audience needs and values will be key to your content marketing success. And going back to what you said,
0:09:00 Jenny, about go small to get big,
0:09:04 I think for a lot of companies, that feels counterintuitive. Why would I narrow down my audience? It makes more sense to market to as many people as possible. But stop and think about it. If you are marketing to the masses, your go to market strategy has to be very, very heavily invested in. Right. Because now you’re paying for pay per click ads and you’re paying for brand awareness and you’re buying email lists. And all of these things done at
0:09:39 scale cost significantly more to do.
0:09:44 And it’s not just about saving money. It goes back to that whole if you’re trying to be everything to everyone, your message gets lost in the crowd. If you’re getting very specific with an ideal customer profile where you’re basically niching down, it’s a smaller audience, but you can create content that will resonate better with them because it will speak specifically to their unique needs and that will stand out because none of your competitors
0:10:11 are likely doing it.
0:10:13 So instead of your content getting lost in like the sea of sameness right, your content will resonate with them because you’ve done your research, you’ve made your plan, your company will get better traction with all of your activities, your content, whatever advertising you’re doing, because you’re hyper focused on that person.
0:10:29 So another thing that we see with clients is you have developed your own unique point of view for your company, but you don’t reinforce that message over and over. You may have that message on your wall, printed out or something like that, but if you’re not drilling it into your ideal customer over and over in everything you’re doing, it’s not going to resonate.
0:10:54 This is a problem because let’s face it, people’s attention spans are limited and we’re all overwhelmed with hundreds of messages every day. I’ve probably read it’s actually thousands. If you think of all the things you get hit with, it’s information overload. And that is happening with prospects out there, like Gartner research. They say on average, it now takes an average of 66 touches to get a prospect to engage with a sales rep.
0:11:24 So it takes a lot of repetition to even create brand recall, let alone build that credibility and trust with them to get them to raise their hand and say, hey, I’m interested in talking to you. I think I need your services or your technology.
0:11:41 When you are the marketer, right, it seems like, oh my gosh, we’re doing the same thing over and over again. But to your prospect or your customer, they don’t see it as much as you see it. So going back to our mistake number one, right? Content strategy. If you’re going back to your content strategy and you have a couple of three pillars that you’re trying to focus on with your strategy, you have to just use that as your roadmap so that you can keep talking about the same things, maybe in a slightly different way, maybe in a slightly different format, right? It could be a video or a blog or a social post, but you have to keep hammering those key messages home to your ideal customer.
0:12:17 Your message is your message. Like Greg said, you can find different ways to get your message out there, but you got to stick to it because back to number two, if you’re all over the board and trying to have a different message for everybody, nothing’s going to resonate. And although it seems redundant, it’s important to stick to your message and stick to your guns.
0:12:37 I think if it feels like from your marketing team’s perspective, it’s overkill. Like, we’re always saying the same thing, we’re always talking about the same thing.
0:12:48 That’s when you’re doing it correctly.
0:12:51 And I feel like ultimately what you want is that prospect to come and
0:12:55 say, you guys always say that this
0:12:59 is a challenge and here’s how to solve it. And if they say, you always say, you’re doing your job well because that means it resonated with them, it actually stuck, and now they’re thinking about it. They have the same mindset as what you’re going out with your unique point
0:13:15 of view and talking about because you’ve
0:13:19 touched on the pain points and how to deal with them over and over
0:13:24 and over with them so that they’re like, yep.
0:13:27 If you change that every time, to Jenny’s point, you’re totally missing the mark. You’ve got to kind of narrow in what you talk about and focus and stick to it.
0:13:37 And then you’re going to attract more of your type of clients and that’s what you want in the long run.
0:13:42 They’ll be like, this company understands me, right? They understand my pain points and they keep talking about it and now I get it.
0:13:49 Exactly. And I think that this is something that many companies and many marketing teams, they undervalue or don’t really realize when they’re going and they’re creating content and it’s to everybody and it’s about every different HR payroll benefits topic under the sun, that if you focused in and stayed in your lane, you’d actually attract more of the ideal customer
0:14:21 profile type of companies that you’re looking for.
0:14:24 Another mistake that we see is not creating new content. You need to keep your message the same, but you need to create new content around that message that is current and updated because if you don’t, it’s going to seem old and outdated. And I have an example, when I go to listen to the podcasts that I like to listen to, I specifically go to what are the newest ones? If it’s like months old, I’m just like, eh, I think that’s irrelevant right now. So I think that keeping things up to date, keeping your blogs, your podcasts, everything, keep it going so that you always have fresh new content around your message for your customer is really important.
0:15:09 That’s a great example. And I can tell you, I will go to vendor websites and I will look at their blog section, for example, and you’ll see there’s four blogs and the newest one is three years old. Well, that’s a brand impression that you probably don’t want to have. And it seems harmless. It’s like, well, at least we have some content out there. I think it’s aging really well, but from the prospect perspective,
0:15:35 individuals that come and look at it, they’re looking for information and advice. And if you lack content, or it
0:15:43 looks outdated, it really discourages people from
0:15:46 spending time learning about your company and your technology tools. And you miss the opportunity to build that brand credibility and trust. Because quite frankly, without new content, there is nothing to follow. And it means less opportunities for prospects to make that connection with your company.
0:16:10 And honestly, when you’re talking about the HR tech business, everything’s always updating and upgrading. And if you’re not on top of that, you’re not going to look good.
0:16:19 You’re selling technology, right? And it changes every couple of weeks, right? You have a sprint to get this new component to your platform built, and then you’d have another sprint, and then you have another sprint, and you keep changing your technology, but your blog is three years old that’s talking about your technology, but it’s not really up to date with what you’re actually selling anymore. You have to stay on top of it. The other thing about continually updating and creating new content is that’s good for SEO as well. Obviously, people want to follow you if you’re talking about solutions to their problems,
0:16:50 but the Googles of the world need to see that you’re constantly updating your content and showing new things for search engines to find you.
0:16:58 And you want to give your audience something to look forward to too, right? I mean, you don’t want them to say, oh, I’ve already read that, and then just cut you out and look for another company that has newer content that they can find. Keep them interested, keep them coming back for more.
0:17:14 I think it’s important to build out a content schedule and stick to it. Consistency is key. And that doesn’t mean, okay, we need to publish a blog article every single day. I mean, if you can, absolutely do that because it will pay in spades as far as building an audience. SEO is a huge factor when you’re talking about a content strategy and having that online on your website. But even if it’s only, I can publish articles once a month, do it, continue to do it, and don’t start out strong and then fizzle out, we see this happen all the time.
0:17:50 Hence why you’ll go to a site and see they have four to five blog posts that are three years old. They started out doing them on a monthly basis, and by like month four or five, they’re like, are we really getting anything from this? We don’t have the capacity to do
0:18:05 this right now, and they move on.
0:18:07 But the thing is, it takes time to build up an audience. And content marketing, it needs to be a long term strategy because you can’t just jump in, create content here and there, disappear for six months, come back, do it again, and expect that people are actually going to pay attention and follow along.
0:18:28 So another way to keep your content fresh and another mistake that we see is not sweating out the content that you already have. It ties back to all of these things, of course, your strategy and all of this kind of stuff. But you can take the content you already have and split it up. Take different pieces and parts of it. We call it cobblestones, where you’re just taking these little pieces out of it and spreading it out. And that can keep your content fresh and exciting too.
0:18:57 It takes a lot of work to build out a lot of content. We’re not denying that at Growth Mode Marketing, that’s one of the things a lot of times clients will come to us as they’re building out their demand generation engine because they’re like, I know content is a huge piece of this. We don’t have the capacity. We don’t know how to do this. And Jenny, you mentioned cobblestones. We work on the concept of cornerstone content and cobblestone content, and it’s really about how do you multiply that content?
0:19:28 And it doesn’t mean you have to go create completely new, fresh, different content with every piece that you create. It’s about how do you get more mileage out of your efforts and take a multiplier approach. And that’s where whether you call it sweating the content or slicing and dicing the content, it’s turning one piece into many. And so you can expand your content. And at GrowthMode, we help a lot of clients do that by creating those cornerstone content pieces, which are those bigger, meatier pieces, and then turning it into many smaller cobblestone pieces of content.
0:20:11 So you’re not reinventing the wheel. You’re taking that gartner research report that
0:20:17 you had created; that you spent
0:20:19 a lot of money on, knowing not every prospect is interested in reading a 25 page report, but there’s really good information you want to convey in there. Okay, how do you spin off a bunch of other content from that where you’re taking the same information and you’re just condensing it into smaller formats, whether it’s social posts, video shorts, webinars articles, podcast episodes. Like, there’s so many different directions you can take to create those cobblestone pieces.
0:20:48 And then eventually, when that all comes together, these people that are following you will get the big 25 page report. They’re just getting it in chunks.
0:20:57 Or those pieces are part of your overall strategy, right, that help lead your ideal customer down that path, right? They’re not going to want to get an; their first email is not going to be, here’s the 25 page report. Right? It’s going to be some of these other smaller pieces that pique their interest and then pull them down through your path to get them to that final piece that makes them say, “Aha”, I’m going to call these folks now and engage.
0:21:21 And there’s lots of benefits to doing the slice and dice method. I mean, let’s face it, more content equals more consumption and it allows you to continue to reinforce those key messages. And also you’re continually staying in front of those prospects and hopefully building a following.
0:21:39 And again, back to the SEO. The more places you are online, it’s your website, it’s your social media, it’s your blog, it’s all these kinds of things. It all ties back to the more you’re out there, the better your SEO is going to be too.
0:21:52 Make your digital footprint your best sales rep because people are making up to 80% of their purchase decision digitally online before they’re willing to engage with a
0:22:04 sales rep. You’re not going to make
0:22:05 the short list, quite frankly, if they didn’t find what they needed before they reached out to you.
0:22:11 So to recap what we’ve talked about today, you want to avoid these five mistakes that we’ve talked about. And these are the things that we advise you to do to ensure a successful and impactful marketing program. So one, develop a content strategy to focus on your efforts. Two, narrow down your audience to focus and gain better traction. Three, reinforce key messages again and again and again to make it stick. Four, create a publishing schedule and stick to it to ensure that your content doesn’t go stale and five, create cornerstone content pieces that you can slice and dice to stretch that content even further.
0:22:51 Content marketing is the fuel to creating demand in the HR tech market and ultimately capturing it. So do it right and it will help accelerate your company’s growth.
0:23:03 Thanks for joining us on the Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe for more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus, give us a like, tell your friends. We’ll see you next time.
At GrowthMode, we combine the unique discipline of growth marketing and the evergreen principles of traditional marketing to develop integrated strategies and measurable programs that help businesses drive growth where it matters most to their vision. We help our B2B clients focus on their specific goals and ensure that their investment is aligned with their broader strategic vision.