Month of Learning

Please enter email and password to continue

The Main Reason Content Marketing Crashes & Burns


Businesses and marketers have to stop marketing if a content approach is going to work.

The biggest challenge today is instilling change that creates momentum in a mindset that has been set in stone since there were four channels on the TV and the only way to appeal to the widest possible audience was to borrow space from someone or something.

Being meaningful to an audience so people buy from you has to be about what you do, not what you do from time to time.

Doing What You Are Told To Do

Buy in, acceptance and embracing an approach that has not been adopted by a company before is the biggest challenge facing businesses today. Otherwise they end up looking like everyone else.

It’s easy to spew tips on a blog and showcase that a content marketing approach works, but to many businesses, they’re not even at the ’13 Reasons Why Facebook Ads Rule’ stage yet (I’m joking).

This goes far deeper than being told to take on board a content approach. It is about realising that the content you create is becoming the differentiator around the service you provide. It’s how you add real value to someone else about who you are.

The Ability To Replicate A Product

Take for instance when it comes to looking to buy an iPhone 6 charger on Amazon. When searching for a charger, I had the option to look at 306 options (20 pages of chargers and yes for the purpose of this article I looked through every page, they were all chargers!).


Take it back a decade or so and there was a time when buying a phone charger meant heading to an electrical store and having a choice of one or two products that the store chose to retail.

The point that I am looking to highlight is the ability to replicate a product is easy when you have a medium to attach yourself to. This is the same for many businesses, who replicate what is present within the marketplace as all they need is a laptop and WiFi. From an SEO company, through to an event organiser, the one thing that makes a company different today is the content that is created and the value that is delivered to an audience.

To make that step from replicating what has already been done from a proven formula, to changing an approach is what I am finding as the biggest hurdle for businesses.

Presenting The Business Case

Next week, I will present the final business case to board level at a company in Somerset. The whole premise is that a content/story driven mindset is an approach that can differentiate the business within their marketplace.

The past couple of months have focused on creating a content strategy with a steering group. This is the last step to connect the reason why we are doing this.

This is the biggest shift in my focus; where for any longevity to be achieved it has to be bought in by every level of a company. Otherwise, it becomes another project that never built momentum. To encourage a company to adopt a content marketing approach is one thing, to instil a new function throughout a business is another.

I am realising that what I am now doing with businesses is to stop them thinking as marketers. By this I mean, promoting a product to an audience that creates a need to buy. In doing so, this is where the problem (and opportunity lies).

When it comes to a business that has decided to take the bull by the horns and create, curate and publish content on an ongoing basis, it involves a huge amount of encouragement.

For many businesses, the role of content creation does not fit part of any job description. The job priorities that were created a generation ago, did not have a content responsibility anywhere on an A4 sheet of paper. Naturally, the easiest option is to outsource every aspect of content/story generation (that’s ok, we do this). However, a company who hands every aspect from the tweets to the weekly blog articles to the email distribution is effectively putting their soul in a box and handing it to a near stranger. It becomes a subordinate responsibility.

The Spark That Is There

A person given a responsibility to create is put in a place they probably have never faced before. Sometimes they are put back in a place that becomes familiar and where the initial spark originated.

Take for example a company that I worked with last year in my hometown of Poole. One of the team members responsible for creating content was a former journalism student from Bournemouth University (the role she was now in was a completely different industry). They had uncovered an absolute gem who had the ability to express herself and her interpretation of the industry that she was in provided a truly unique perspective that no one else in the marketplace could take (unless someone else offered her a similar role elsewhere).

The company then decided that the content programme was going to stop as the focus had to be on the job description. It didn’t matter that the work she created was at home during the evening. To the company she worked for it was seen as a campaign that had run its course.

I hold my hands up now and accept responsibility. The whole reason this failed was because management level didn’t care to embrace it. If a company has been working in a way that it has since 1995, then 2014 was also going to be 1995.

I have wasted many hours trying to convince businesses who were just happy with keeping things as they were. I now know that’s ok, we all have to move on. Anyway, who would want to work with a company where a story turns into a glorified press release on a self-gratifying achievement.

This is where we are today, it is still far easier to deliver a promise of what a product or service delivers, rather than dig deep create and curate an experience around what a company stands for to differentiate. This to me is the biggest reason why businesses have to shift a mindset from transactional to relational.

Starting To Round Up

So, before every social channel stream becomes filled with ways to be better than someone else in 2016. The company who is successful is the one where a content approach becomes part of the behaviour of a business.

To many businesses, this is unchartered water and I totally understand that to make a content marketing approach work, there has to be a level of guidance.

Once a company goes beyond the prehistoric job description, this is where the freedom and expression lies. The thing that always scares us, such as writing for the first time in years, or taking to the microphone for the first time, is the thing that makes us different.

It’s time to stop marketing and start doing.

Image at the top of the article courtesy of Pete


Get the
Thursday newsletter

The YATM Weekly helps you build a loyal audience so you become the leading voice in your marketplace. All yours every Thursday.

Find out more

    ‘You Are The Media is powered by We Are The Media. We turn your expertise into clear, compelling messages, then build those messages into the kind of content people value —and come back for.

    Visit We Are The Media