Marketing With Empathy® #111 MWE 111 - 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Content Marketing Strategy
Hey, everyone, welcome back. And if you are new, thank you so much for tuning in. Today we're answering the question of what are some common mistakes to avoid when creating a content marketing strategy? I've been building content plans for more than 20 years, you guys, and I've thought of eight mistakes to avoid when creating your content marketing strategy and your plans. Eight things to avoid that will help your plan be that much better. These are the kind of topics we talk about here on this show, right? So welcome to Marketing with Empathy, the podcast that helps content marketers more confidently navigate the world of brand storytelling. I'm your host, Sarah Panus, and I've spent the last 20 years creating and growing successful editorial brand storytelling strategies, teams, and operations. People are craving connections and I'm on a mission to help brands better connect with their audience by creating content people actually want to consume. Think of the show like a creative content marketing jam session mixed with Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Let's quickly hear from today's sponsors and then jump right into my quick but mighty list of eight mistakes to avoid when creating your content marketing strategy. All right, the number one mistake is lacking focus. Lacking focus on the why, the what, and the where. So with the why, it's what's the point? What business goals does this content support? How are you laddering up to something, to several things? You need to have the why to keep you focused and keep your vision going in the right place. And then, lacking focus on the what what you say? This is obviously very key. My mentor and story brand creator Donald Miller always talks about how people don't buy know the best brands. Always, they buy from the ones that are answering and solving their problem. I'm paraphrasing, but basically you could have the best product in the market, but if you're not talking about it in the right way and having focused words and a solid strategy, you're going to be all over the place and your customer is not going to act in the way that you want them to.
And then lacking focus on where. Well, we all know not all content works for all channels. There's so many nuances, especially now. It just keeps it advancing all the time. And you need to think about what are the priority channels for your customer, where are they? Where do they like to hang out that you can reach them, and then also for your company. And my advice here is to focus on fewer than many. And I think right now is a really perfect time to audit your content ecosystem, your channels that you are prioritizing, especially your social channels and which ones you're going to cut. And I give you full permission to have conversations internally about like, I don't think we need to be on all of the social channels.
I think we should be on these three. And this is why, as an example, keep your name, keep your business name and the URL on the other social channels that you have for reputation management purposes. You don't want somebody else scooping up your brand name and then having to go back and get it. It's a headache. Trust me, I've done that with brands before. The biggest thing here and why I'm saying this is you're probably feeling this. You are stretched thin. Social teams, especially content teams that create a lot of social content are very stretched thin.
There's such a high demand for very specific and different variety of formats and styles and things that go across different channels. Teams are very stretched thin. They are having competing priorities. Everything can't be top priority, right? And you, your teams are going to do way better content if you can focus your efforts on fewer channels overall. And so I think what better time than right now after we've all gone through the pandemic, we've all kind of reflected on our lives and our relationships. Well Dang, look at your content channels guys. Cut where it's not needed. Mistake number two is creating in a silo.
One team makes a content strategy. Doesn't really get input from anybody, doesn't really merchandise it to anybody. They're just kind of building based on what their team needs and it's good for them, but it's not holistically going to be good for all the other teams across marketing or the comms department. And guess what guys? You don't get stronger buy in and better results and other teams super excited to share your content if you are creating your content marketing strategy this way. Okay, so there's several solutions here to help you not create your plan in a silo. One is you want to think about shared goals, shared outcomes, have a shared content calendar. Do not create your plan in a silo because stronger buy in is going to give you better results. This is what's going to help you grow your budgets.
It's going to help you grow your headcount. It's going to get the accolades and the excitement that you want to see versus things just kind of sitting there and not really doing much. The third mistake I see is not syncing full funnel with your content marketing strategy. So if you're doing a pure editorial brand storytelling plan editorial brand storytelling is amazing for to of funnel and bottom of like an hourglass funnel, right? You have an hourglass where it's fat on the top and then it gets skinny in the middle but then it fans back out on the bottom and gets fat again. So that's hourglass. So brand storytelling content like pure editorial is amazing for that top as well as the bottom. Like you're attracting, you're engaging, you're building consideration set and then after they've purchased, you're helping with repeat and advocacy. Advocacy is huge for this type of content to reengage your existing customers.
Well, if you're not thinking full funnel with a holistic content marketing strategy. So let's say that brand storytelling, editorial storytelling content is part of, well, you're missing out. And the content in the top of the funnel. Just think of it this way. The content in the top of the hourglass funnel is the content that's going to help get your customers to know, like and trust you. We've all heard that. Know, like and trust. And then they're going to try it, and then they're going to buy it.
And then the bottom of the hourglass is about repeat and referral content. So what you want to do is you want to make sure if you're in charge of thinking of this holistically, think about the whole hourglass funnel and make sure you have at least one amazing piece of content for each step of that funnel, all the way through, from the top of just awareness, all the way down to repeat and referral. Because if you're bringing them through the full funnel, they need to have a great experience, right? And so this is a really great exercise and audit to do. And Patty Radford Henderson actually was on this podcast, and I were first having this conversation about it, and I completely agree because if you're only focused on amazing upper funnel content, brand storytelling content, then what happens after they get into the rest of your funnel and the rest of it's crap and they're completely turned off? They're like, wow, I thought this company was a lot better than this. But your product and services don't pay off after they get it right. These things all go hand in hand, and it's all about your brand image and the experience you're creating for your customers. And ultimately, big picture always is the problem that you're helping solve for your customer base. So be thinking full funnel here, okay? Full hourglass funnel, not just like an inverted triangle.
Next mistake number four is you're trying to do what everyone else is. Okay? Some of you might be like, oh, my gosh, everyone's coming at me asking me why we don't do this, this and this. So it's really great to be inspired by other amazing content examples 100%. But it's a problem when you feel like you're constantly chasing after what everyone else does or if you're always getting asked, why don't we do this like our competitor does? Make sure you have clear alignment on your three storytelling pillars. I recommend in the brand storytelling blueprint work that I do with my clients is we really figure out what are those three storytelling pillars that the company is going to talk about for that whole year? It could be for a whole two years. And that you get that aligned with leaders on these three pillars so you can avoid pushback later of them being like, I didn't know we were focused on that. I'm not aligned to that. That'll kill it dead in the water right there.
So getting aligned with your leaders, whoever the decision makers are, on those three storytelling pillars. Also with this is think about what makes your company weird. I had previous guests on CJ, Cassietta, the author of the book, Get Weird, and his whole thing is, don't try to be like everyone else. What's your secret sauce that differentiates you from your competitors? Be inspired to do better as yourself. Otherwise, you're just going to blend in. You're going to look and sound like everybody else. We've all seen copycat brands, and then you're like, oh, I don't know if it's this one or this one. You just can't remember them, right? They don't really stand for anything that you resonate with.
So you want to stand out, obviously, and you want people to remember you, and you want to attract the right type of customers to you that you care about. So think about kind of your differentiators and build that into your storytelling pillars versus trying to just talk about and do the same things everyone else's in your industry or other competitors or other brands that you think just are crushing it and doing a great job. Okay? Mistake number five is talking all about yourself. The biggest mistake you can make with content plans is creating too much content that talks about how great you are and your product or your service benefits. A key element of the story brand framework. So if you missed a previous episode, I am a certified story brand guide. And the story brand framework, the key element of it that I develop with clients is realizing that your customer is the hero and you are the guide. Okay? It's not flipped.
Your company is not the hero. Okay? Your customer is the hero. You're the guide. And you're the guide because you're helping guide the customer to solve their problem so that they can avoid failure and be successful, period. So your storytelling content needs to help your customer understand how you can help solve their problem and do this. That actually goes full funnel all the way through, and that's a huge thing, guys, to remember. So if you're looking at your content structure and all the kinds of things that you want to talk about through that hourglass funnel, and it really seems to be coming across as me, that's a big red flag. Okay? So take a step back, look at it, flip it to say, how can we frame this as the customer's voice? And flip the script on those types of things.
Mistake number six is not pulling enough data and empathy insights. When people tell me they're not sure what to talk about in their content, it's because they haven't looked at the content insights that are available to them. I think of this piece, this step, as being a content investigator for your brand. Your job in this part is to put on your investigator hat, pretend you're like a private eye. That's what I do. And dig through all the data and research from inside your company and outside your company. Ultimately you're looking to understand better, understand what your customers thinking and caring about. You're looking for a mix of there's peer data along with empathy insights that really help paint that picture of what they are thinking and feeling.
You need the combo of all those. You also need to look at a variety of sources internally and externally to get a true picture. Otherwise your insights are going to be really skewed if you're only looking at one source for example, if you're only looking at social insights from your social channels or if you're only looking at the insights you have from your internal consumer insights group. If you have one that's giving you data on your customer, that's amazing. But then look online additionally from SEO Insights what are people talking about? What questions do they have? You can get a lot of great insights in all of these things when you start digging. Okay, so that's mistake number six. Mistake number seven is not looking at past results. So with this.
I've been guilty of this in the past throughout my career, and I'm sure maybe you have, too, where you are so busy, you move from one thing to the next, and you don't take enough time to look back and actually kind of do, like the post mortem and analyze and or just look at what was good, what was bad. What do we want to do moving forward? And so sometimes you can just feel like you're just in this rat race which you don't want to have happen when you're creating your strategy. Okay, you want to look at past results because you can look and see, okay, are there things we can repurpose that we've already created? Has something done really well? Like this one piece of content? Awesome. How could we kind of splice and dice this in a little different way to reuse the content in different ways without having to recreate? Go back to square one or square zero? Ground zero. I'm bad on analogies. Sometimes I get them mixed up. It's kind of funny but I know you know what I'm talking about. So you want to think about what can you repurpose? This is a big one because that is a huge miss just on its own of people missing opportunities to reuse what they've already made versus always making everything from scratch.
Okay, so you're going to look for that. You're also looking at what was good that you want to repeat and what types of things were bad that you want to avoid. So make sure that you are giving yourself a little bit of time to go back and look at those past results from previous content plans, campaigns, getting feedback from the teams along the way. And the final mistake to avoid when creating your content marketing strategy is not getting alignment along the way. This is huge. What I've seen work really well is you want to make sure that you are getting alignment along the way versus you're working really hard on it. You have a big presentation, you're going to present it to the decision makers and then you're like super nervous and you hope it goes well. And then you get all this feedback in the moment and sometimes it's great, sometimes it's not, and usually it's a mix.
There's some things they'll like and they won't like, but if you get alignment along the way, you remove those obstacles. So what I recommend is do an early temp check with executives and peers across other teams. This is just an outline at this point and your main key ideas. And then you're going to temp check to say, okay, here's the direction we're thinking of building for our content strategy this year. It's very rough, just directionally. I would love to get your feedback. What do you like, what don't you, what's missing? And this is where you can really be communicating with your peers, especially too across other teams to understand well, what are their goals. To make sure that your content plan is supporting as many teams as possible because that's going to get everyone excited.
So early temp check across execs and peers across other teams. Then you're going to revise that outline based on their feedback. You're going to run it by the peers again. I like to go back to the peers again and say, okay, here's where it's at. What do you think? This point, you're getting their buy in, you're getting them excited. Okay guys. Then after everyone's in a good spot with peers, then you have the final alignment with the executive team. This is like the presentation, the big meeting, discussion, getting alignment on these things or with your boss, whoever is like the final final sign off person.
And so you have that you can share. Yes. This plan has been developed in collaboration with other teams, other peers across these different teams. And we feel like it's going to meet business objectives of blah, blah, blah. So after everyone's aligned on that, then you merchandise it internally and you're going to save it in a shared content calendar location for visibility across teams and people throughout the whole entire year. If anything tweaks or changes, you just go into the shared location and change it. So if people want to see it, don't make it a secret it's bad. You want your content strategy to be accessible and celebrated across the organization.
All of this is going to help you drive better results. So those are my eight mistakes to avoid when creating a content marketing strategy. I would love to hear if you have others drop your comment in our Marketing with Empathy Slack community. If you're not a member yet, there will be a link in the podcast description here otherwise. That's all for this week. Until next week. If you're hearing this, I know you work in the world of content marketing, but here's the deal you want to be a content marketing leader, but marketers don't have enough time to do content marketing well. I'd love to help you check Storytelling projects off your marketing to do list using my 20 years of frameworks and methods so you get your time back while confidently engaging new and existing customers.
For example, I'm a certified Story Brand Guide and would love to help clarify your messaging strategy for your overall brand as well as your editorial Storytelling content plans. Let me help you plan, implement and scale your content plans. There's a variety of ways we can work together, including day rates, online training courses all the way through to longer term retainer projects. Schedule a discovery call with me to discuss your business needs by going to my That's

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