While building several content marketing programs over the past years, I encountered many roadblocks and pitfalls which prevented me from achieving results as smoothly as I had hoped. Because of my passion for content marketing, I was trying to convince team members, subject matter experts and clients to drink the Kool-Aide. But oftentimes I felt like I was shouting in the desert. Didn’t anyone see and feel the opportunities I was seeing?
Have you ever felt this way?
I realized that by introducing content marketing to a company I was effectively creating culture change. It’s an important mental shift. I was focused on the “nitty-gritty” important content marketing details like content strategy, personas, personalized content, marketing automation, etc., but I had thought very little about culture change. Realizing this, I finally understand why I was having such a slow, uphill battle in on-boarding other people.
I started to deepen my knowledge and skills in culture change. Nowadays I am convinced that culture change is an important piece of the puzzle for content marketers who want to achieve breakthrough results.
I would like to invite you to join me on the journey of discovering and experiencing the power of combining content marketing with culture change.
The insights I am sharing with you in this article are ten of the most deadly habits that prevent content marketers from achieving results. These habits, based on the lessons learned from accountability expert Mark Samuel, opened my eyes and gave me clear insights about my own behaviour and what skills needed improvement.
This happens when we spend too much in determining our needs, whether for content marketing, new processes, or new marketing automation tools before implementing. Over-analysing often results in analysis-paralysis and lost opportunity.
For example, a CMO plans to start a content marketing campaign to increase the visibility of his company through thought leadership. He has been talking about this for years already, but it’s still not moving forward. The CMO is busy analysing the changes, searching for the best marketing automation tools, reporting systems, and spends much time discussing and defending them. Although he is very busy, he is failing to take the actions needed to help his company achieve his vision of thought leadership.
#2: Waiting to Start Until the Content Marketing Plan is Perfect
This used to be my biggest pitfall!
I always wanted content marketing plans to be perfect, because if the plan was perfect it would be perfectly implemented. And I thought, if it was perfect, surely the nay-sayers would be satisfied and quieted.
Little did I realise, in trying to ensure that everyone was comfortable, we were spending so much time that it unintentionally fostered a sense of conflict and confusion, leading to even more resistance. By the time the content marketing plan was implemented, our lack of speed increased the pressure to achieve results.
Remember, creating a “perfect plan” may actually create resistance from those implementing the plan, because they will be the ones who are to blame if anything goes. So don’t strive for a perfect plan—and don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
#3: Over-reliance on Buy-in
I have read a lot of opinions about the importance of having buy-in from the C-suite to do content marketing… and I agree. But too often we are so invested in helping everyone feel comfortable with our plan that we spend too much valuable time trying to convince them—days, weeks, and often months are wasted.
Instead of waiting for everyone to buy into the grand content marketing vision, instead consider pitching your plan with “all-in” and “test phase” options.
Getting buy-in for a test content marketing campaign is far less likely to drag on. And once you’re able to prove results from that campaign, move on to the full plan.
#4: Empowering Without Guidance
This habit appears when we have finally finished that amazing content marketing plan, after a lot of ‘blood sweat and tears.’ And although we empower others to implement the plan, this is where things goes wrong in many companies.
Managers often overlook preparing their team to implement the content marketing plan. They punish their people when they fail, but never make any attempt to really coach them to succeed. Because content marketing is such a new thing to most organizations, their teams absolutely need coaching during implementation. This is such an important missing piece!
Unfortunately, many managers are better at planning a content strategy than planning how it should be executed. This leaves team members feeling abandoned and directionless, resulting in even greater confusion and conflict.
Don’t stop short—be prepared to coach your team through the implementation of your content marketing strategy.
#5: Failing to Monitor Content Marketing Progress
Sometimes we don’t monitor progress so we can avoid the risk of discovering we aren’t on track to be successful. We put our heads in the sand to avoid facing ‘bad news’.
If progress content marketing efforts is being monitored it’s based on results like number of views, number of subscribers, number of leads etc. But if we monitor, do we also monitor our team members how they succeed in achieving results? And are we coaching them when the results get off-track?
By failing to monitor progress, how will you know if you’re off-track? And without knowing it you may decrease the likelihood of recovery.
#6: Expecting Perfection
This habit appears when we believe that we have the perfect content marketing plan, have communicated it perfectly, and now expect perfect results. If everyone does what they said, we will see perfect results, right?
Humans aren’t perfect, and you will make mistakes (yes, even you). Content Marketing is all about testing hypotheses and seeing what works best. You should be prepared make a few mistakes. If your team isn’t making any mistakes, they’re probably not trying to win the game. Remember, it’s okay to make a few mistakes.
#7: Measuring content marketing outcomes without measuring performance execution
This happens when we only measure page traffic, views, posts published, subscribers, or leads, but fail to link them to the performance of your team and team members.
This is like a football team only measuring wins and losses, but not individual performance.
Think of tracking the way information is shared between team members, how team members communicate with each other, how they prioritize their work, the way they support each other, the way decisions are made and so forth.
Ultimately, the way to achieve better business results is through improved processes and performance execution by the team and team members individual.
#8: Not holding others accountable
This habit appears when we don’t establish consequences for sabotaging the success of your team and organization. We have all witnessed failure after an initial success due to a group of negativists who refuse to give content marketing a chance to work. They are actually empowered to sabotage because there are no penalties to discourage them.
This is rooted in our desire to be nice, to give everyone a chance to be heard, and to make everyone comfortable. Hold everyone on your team accountable, especially the nay-sayers.
#9: Playing the ‘Blame game’
“Yeah but, the CEO is not giving us the content marketing tools we need.”
“Yeah but, our subject matter experts didn’t give us the input we need.”
“Yeah but, our team is short staffed.”
You recognize this?
This habit appears when we blame others for our problems, rather than addressing those who aren’t performing effectively.
Instead of focussing on identifying where our content marketing team needs to improve, we put the responsibility on others to keep from looking bad.
Blame creates more blame, resulting in an environment of fear and mediocrity.
Don’t let this happen to your content marketing team. Don’t play the blame game!
#10: Failing to recognize success
This last habit appears when we can’t even determine whether the content marketing plan was successful. If we haven’t been monitoring our progress, we have absolutely no way of recognizing success.
We also can’t possibly acknowledge people for their contributions, so we don’t.
We keep going in the rat race and speed on to the next content marketing program, leaving people frustrated with no sense of completion or acknowledgment for their hard work. We not only experience failed efforts, but worse yet, we have discouraged our team.
What has been a roadblock or pitfall for your team?
Has one or more of these habits prevented your team from achieving success?
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