Your content marketing stinks. There, I said it. Yes, it may be all the rage in the marketing sphere. We’re all busy pushing content onto customers like merchants trying to pawn cheap knock-off watches at European tourist destinations. And those disinterested would-be customers view it the same way the tourists sneer at the rip-off watches. They know it’s mostly garbage and would rather fix their gaze on il Vaticano or la Tour Eiffel. After all, they didn’t spend thousands of dollars flying around the globe to stare at contemptible plastic disguised as a Gucci purse, did they? So do everyone a favor and avoid becoming that Gucci knock-off vendor.

If you are still with me, chances are that you agree that there’s a slight possibility that your content marketing does indeed Stink. With a capital S. But don’t worry and don’t take it personally. You are not alone. Heck, my content marketing stinks half the time, too. There are lots of reasons for it. Many of us marketers are stuck in a morass of institutional inertia and bureaucracy. We have to conform to the conservative cultures of our organization where everyone absolutely must provide their input. By the time the corporate lawyers, the PR guys, the executives and the janitors butcher your creative thoughts or force their personal pet issues into your content, it’s no longer quality content. It’s a bunch of stiff corporate speak that sounds like it was authored by a spambot. No wonder your experts are unwilling to dedicate any time to it.

Luckily, your content marketing does not have to stink. Not even with a lower case s. But how? Let’s first take a look some of the most common offenses:

It’s your damn fault — it just plain stinks. It’s poorly written, not well thought out, and boasts the grammar of a fourth grader. Guess what? That is no one’s fault but your own. If you can’t get your act together and produce content like a professional, then hire one.

It’s too much  — it may be great content but which one of your customers has time to read a 197 page pdf? Ask yourself, “If I was an extremely busy customer, would I dedicate the time to this?” The answer is clearly no. Your customers don’t have the time. And even if they did, they’d probably prefer reading something more interesting, like Mark Twain’s autobiography.

Stop boring me  — that stiff corporate jargon and inhuman language is boring the bejeezus out of your audience. No one wants to read this. And, personally, I’d rather sit through yet another corporate mandated security lecture than deal with your crappy “content.” (Unlike your material, that security lecture is actually important.)

The content crunch is upon us  — despite the mass of content, your execs are on your case to produce something new thrice a week. Why? No one really knows. Someone probably decided that randomly creating more content generates more leads and everyone else simply agreed. How much truth is there to this? I don’t have the data on this and it’s certainly plausible that more content leads to more leads/impressions/credibility/etc. But you’ll also quickly reach the point of diminishing returns. Once you’ve reached it, the opportunity cost associated with this extra effort is probably not worth it. So the trick is to find out what your point of diminishing returns is.

Me, me, me — you’ve made it all about YOU instead of your customer. This is probably the worst offender. You are selling [insert product/service/brand/company here] instead of sharing engaging and/or thought-provoking knowledge. And please don’t disguise your hard sales pitch as an “educational webinar.” Nothing could be more condescending to your customers. They may have a pain to resolve but if they wanted to be sold to, they would call your sales guy and ask for it. Notice that they rarely ever do that? Because they don’t want to be sold to! So knock it off.

If you engage in the above, your content marketing stinks. As will your results. All of that effort and time and resource will largely go down the drain. You’ll be disappointed and George Zimmer guarantees it. Not everyone’s marketing stinks. And yours doesn’t have to, either. Next time, we’ll figure out strategies so you don’t waste your customer’s valuable time. Or your own.


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Hi there,

I’m Abdul. My heart belongs to my family, but my opinions are mine alone. For more uninformed conjecture, follow me on Twitter at @CaliAbdul. Or connect with me on LinkedIn.