How Will Your Content Marketing Story End?

With Halloween just around the corner, cable channels are deep into playlists of horror movies. Tune in, if you dare, and see how everything from a cabin on a quiet lake to a doll can go fatally wrong. But for sales and marketing pros, these movies aren’t half as scary as the idea of executing a failed campaign and missing important sales numbers.

This is equally true for Content Selling and Content Marketing programs. Just alike a scary movie, one wrong move and the guillotine comes down on you – or even your whole team. The good news is that we can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid the pitfalls of failed campaigns. Let’s take a look a few content program horror stories and avoid making the same mistakes ourselves.

Too Big to Fail?

Popular online destinations can’t fail with content-based programs, right? I bet their constant traffic ensures that even their bad content gets read. Think again.

What do you get when you combine Facebook, savvy staff writers and content from the Huffington Post? The answer: A poorly received content program, dubbed “Facebook Stories.” The site, designed to leverage content to increase brand awareness, is a rarely visited destination. It’s hard to believe that Facebook – already one of the largest and most popular collections of user-generated content – would want to sink money into the campaign. Especially since they didn’t define the purpose and objective well enough before green-lighting the project.

  • Learn this lesson: Don’t embark on a content-based program without a well-defined plan. This applies to every business from a start-up to the web’s most popular brands. In a piece about the failure of Facebook Stories, blogger Spencer Powell commented, “You need to have clearly defined, thoroughly documented goals for who you want to reach with your content and what you want to achieve … without a concrete plan, your campaign will be useless and ineffective.”

Get Your Facts Right

Old-school Content Marketing taught us to blast collateral at a list, then sit back and count the profits. Content Selling dispelled this fallacy, but a few marketers still haven’t received the memo. For example, a law office sent a buckshot distribution to more than 8,000 potential customers. They hoped for strong response. Instead, their most significant reply came in the form of a $4 million fine for unsolicited marketing. It didn’t help that they decided to run the program via fax rather than modern marketing automation tools. Ouch!

  • Learn this lesson: Know your audience and deliver the right content for the right buyer. Generic content does not work. If you’re having trouble deciding which collateral is right for your targets, consider investing in a system such as KnowledgeTree that recommends the ideal content for each prospect – right in Salesforce.com. Oh yeah, and recycle your fax machine.

Extra, Extra!

A marketing exec at one of the biggest and most respected national newspapers wanted to win back lost subscribers. So the publication sent out a content blast and offered a steep discount offer for those who were willing to renew their subscriptions. Seems like a decent plan, providing that the offer is only extended to the 300 targets. The simple campaign turned into a nightmare when the blast went to all 8 million subscribers. Many of the un-intended recipients were angry and flooded the paper with complaints. Others demanded they get the same price or they’d leave too.

  • Learn this lesson: Don’t try to execute a content-based program with just Outlook. There are many excellent marketing automation tools that can help you manage your lists and deliver content appropriately.

Despite these scary stories, the scariest one may be happening around you and you don’t even know it. Do you know what Sales is doing what the content you have been sending to them? Do you even know what they are sharing with leads and customers? It’s time to get over your fears and launch headfirst into a Content Selling program. Make sure you’ve learned the hard lessons of others, and arm yourself with a solid knowledge of how to plan execute successfully. Start with our free eBook on Content Selling, and you’ll be off to a good start.