7 Ways to Fail at Content Marketing

7 Ways to Fail at Content Marketing

This isn’t one of those feel good posts on content marketing.

This is a post about failure…

…or rather seven ways to fail at content marketing.

Why write a post on content marketing failure?

Who wants to hear about failure, right? Failing at something sucks. Failure also is an incredible way to learn and grow at our craft. Especially when learning from someone else’s failure.

Because the truth is, failure is a very real, very possible, maybe even probable outcome for marketers and business owners who begin content marketing.

Content marketing isn’t easy and isn’t a game. But done correctly, content marketing works in every industry, in every business, every time.

There are no exceptions.

The problem, and reason I’m writing this article, is that most businesses don’t adequately prepare themselves for the possibility of failure when they start content marketing.

This primarily stems from the way content marketing is sold.

See the slideshow below for more detail:

Content Marketing is Sold Wrong from Ryan Hanley

Businesses, especially small businesses, are sold the dream scenario. They’re sold the one in a million shot and not the stone cold reality of what it takes to become a success online.

When it’s working, content marketing is fun as hell. Every time you open Google Analytics all lines point up and to the right. Every time you check your bank balance there’s another zero. Check the results from my own small business SEO experiment for just one of millions of case studies on content marketing success.

There is a path to success. Your goals are achievable. You can grow your business with content marketing.

Preparation is key and understanding the pitfalls we face to ensure failure is NOT an option.

Here are 7 ways to fail at content marketing

1) You don’t take the work seriously

Content marketing is an incredibly efficient and powerful way to grow your audience and your business.

Content marketing is also a lot of work.

The businesses that fail at content marketing don’t take the work seriously. For these businesses content marketing is a side project, a second thought. Something they ask their marketing department to create on a shoestring budget.

For content marketing to work we must invest, we must prioritize, we must execute.

In order to achieve serious results, the work of content marketing must be taken seriously.

2) You don’t build relationships first

The system of interruption selling doesn’t work (efficiently) like it used to. You know this. I know this.

Long-term content marketing is no longer derived from the size of your email list, but the size of your audience.

We must build relationships first. Those relationships turn into an audience. That audience turns into value (one form of which is revenue).

3) You always sell

ABC selling… Always Be Closing… it doesn’t work today.

It doesn’t work because of the widespread availability of options consumers have for the products and services they need and want. the old way of selling used to work because consumers had no other options.

There was no Internet, only a few publications and even less TV stations. Consumer had to endure the endless selling.

That is NOT the case today. Always selling, always pushes your potential audience away.

4) You try to be a generalist

Google has killed the generalist. We’ve already been over that. No one goes to the Internet to find the company who is kinda good at a bunch of things.

In your business as a whole you can sell as many different products and services as you like. Online however, it behooves you and your potential content marketing success to focus on the product or service by which you can differentiate your business.

From a search engine and brand building perspective specializing is a pillar of content marketing success.

5) You don’t invest

You’re not going to be able to take, take, take and find success content marketing. As we’ve discussed above, in order to be a success you’re going to have take this work seriously. A big part of that is investing in bandwidth, tools, people, and most importantly yourself.

You’re going to need a high quality website, staff, email marketing, consultants, content generation, etc.

This stuff takes an investment in time and money. An investment you have to make in order to succeed.

6) You try to be perfect

Stop planning, stop waiting for the perfect moment, stop waiting period. The perfect moment, the perfect opportunity, the perfect audience is never going to come.

If you try to be perfect you won’t put in the work necessary to understand what actually work.





That’s it. You have to keep trying until the thing works. Those who wait for perfect lose.

7) You wait for permission

Much like waiting for perfect, waiting for permission is just as detrimental to the overall success of your content marketing efforts.

No one is going to give you permission.

Your boss isn’t going to give you permission. Your spouse isn’t going to give you permission. Your partners aren’t going to give you permission. Your employees aren’t going to give you permission. Your competitors aren’t going to give you permission.

You are the only one who give you permission to start content marketing.

If you wait for permission, you’ll miss the opportunities that present themselves from doing the work.

The Rub

Companies fail at content marketing all the time. Most of the time these failures are the result of misunderstandings and misinterpretations of what content marketing is and how we succeed.

Take a long look over these 7 ways to fail at content marketing and make sure your company, your business, your brand isn’t falling victim these easily solved reason for failure.

Now get to work!

Thank you and good luck,

I am Ryan Hanley

What say you?

What other reasons would you add for content marketing failure? Do you agree with the reason listed above?

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