Content catastrophes—that’s what I call the missteps I see over and over in B2B content marketing. As a B2B content marketing writer, this stuff makes me cringe. But many businesses are on their own when it comes to content creation and simply don’t know the pitfalls to look for. As the saying goes, “How do you know what you don’t know?” Fortunately, there are fast fixes for all of these content calamities.
1. You’re Talking to Yourself
The content about your Super-Gizmo Widgetizer makes perfect sense to you. You talk about your flux capacitor like your customers know exactly what you’re talking about. Fix it: Describe your products like you’re talking to your parents. Simplify whenever possible.
2. You’re Overly Complex
Related to catastrophe 1 is catastrophe 2. You talk over the heads of your customers and clients. You use a 14-letter word when a 5-letter word will do. You load up on complex detail. Fix it: Again, simplify. Some people protest when I say this: “I’m not going to dumb down my content!” I’m not talking about dumbing down. I’m saying use clear, simple, easy to understand language. Think of how much content hits you all day long from all sides. Taking a deep dive into your message is the last thing your prospects have time to do. Make your content and message as clear as glass.
3. You Don’t Think Like Your Customer
If you’re in business, your job is to solve problems. If your content isn’t directly addressing the problems you solve, then what’s the point? Fix it: Ask your customers why they picked you, chose you, loved you. Use that knowledge to write content targeted so new prospects will choose you too.
4. You’re Focused on Sales Rather Than Helpfulness
You don’t try to add value to your readers; you only try to convince them to buy, buy, BUY! Fix it: What information could your prospect really use? Think of ways you can add value, provide information, give out knowledge—for free—that your prospect will truly appreciate and use. I know businesses aren’t in business to give stuff away, but you can give some of your knowledge to prospects knowing it will build your reputation, show off your expertise, and build trust.
5. You’re “We-We-ing” All Over The Place
I had a boss who coined the “we-we-ing” phrase. She said it whenever someone delivered copy that read, “WE provide X, and WE provide Y, and look at all the things WE can do. Aren’t WE great?” She called that “we-we-ing” all over the place. Who wants that? No one. Fix it: Focus on YOU and not WE. “Here’s what our business does for YOU. Here’s how this product helps YOU. Here’s how our technology solves YOUR problem.”
6. Touting Features and Not Benefits
This advice is as old as the hills, but so many of us are guilty of it. We make a laundry list of what the product does, but never tell the client why it should matter to them. Fix it: For every feature, write down why it matters to your customer. Remember, a feature answers the question, “What does it do?” Benefits answer, “Why should that matter to me?” For example, a feature may be: Our gizmo sends automatic alerts to your smartphone when there’s unusual activity with your bank account. The benefit, or the reason it matters: You have safety, security, and peace of mind knowing that any odd activity with your bank account will be reported to you automatically.
7. Too Many Messages, Too Many Targets
Your copy says that your widget is great for CIOs, Systems Engineers, Circus Clowns, Web Developers, School Crossing Guards, and Astronauts. Isn’t that awesome? No. Marketing to everyone is marketing to no one. Fix it: Pick a main message and audience per marketing piece. Think niche media instead of mass media.
8. Disregarding the Little Things
Did you leave a typo in your content? Did you forget a call to action? Did you use formatting to make your content easier to scan and read. These might be small things, but they add up. They make a reader pause or, even worse, abandon your message. Don’t insert speed bumps that your reader has to jump over. Fix it: Make the content mechanics perfect, so your readers can concentrate on your message.
9. You Don’t Tell Customers What to Do Next
After reading your content, what do you want the reader to do next? Make a comment? Call you? Share your post? Buy your book? Sign up for your next webinar? If you don’t tell them, how will they know? Fix it: Always provide a call to action.
What content catastrophes have you seen? I’d love to hear your horror stories—and fixes—in the comments.