5 content marketing mistakes you can’t afford to make this year

Content marketing works wonders to reach small and midsized businesses (SMBs) — but it can be a minefield. Success requires a narrow focus and a plan to map content to your objectives.

Read on to learn how to sidestep common pitfalls.

Mistake 1: Chasing formats

When new content types see a surge in popularity, you may be tempted to invest immediately to avoid falling behind. Pressure can also come from the top as your boss wonders why you haven’t yet adopted the latest content craze.

Though it’s good to experiment, new formats shouldn’t take priority over tried-and-true techniques you know SMBs like. According to Bredin research, articles are a preferred content type for 28 percent of SMBs in the awareness stage and 27 percent in the research stage.

Mistake 2: Diminishing your brand

When you place too much importance on cultivating expert bylines, your brand identity can get lost. Only 19 percent of SMBs rank content highly because it’s written by a recognized expert.

Most rank quality first: 38 percent of SMBs told us that high-quality, actionable advice is a top factor motivating them to take action. Use your own bylines to tie your brand to quality content and prove that you understand SMB issues.

If you don’t always want to use your own bylines, consider amplifying the voices of your customers — SMBs consistently cite peers as the most credible source for business management advice.

Mistake 3: Forgetting your audience

Resist the urge to produce content on a broad array of topics to reach the maximum number of businesses. Effective content is created with a specific target in mind. Well-defined audience personas that include pain points and business objectives are a good starting point for content planning.

Your audience may also be put off if you focus too much on your product. Forty percent of SMBs say they want an equal mix of business management advice and product information, with only 6 percent saying they want mostly product information with some business management advice. Resist the urge to sell for now — there will be time for that later.

Mistake 4: Using content exclusively for lead gen

If you’re using content only to attract leads and are forgetting to nurture, you’re missing out.

Develop content for the awareness, research and purchase stages, keeping in mind that some formats work better in different stages. Here’s what SMBs had to say when asked to rank different content types’ impact at each stage of the sales cycle:

Mistake 5: Giving salespeople product content only

Product content is an essential part of your sales team’s toolkit, but adding advisory content can juice results.

Help your team sell by providing them with advisory content that positions them as a trusted advisor and go-to resource for prospects and customers. Consider how-to articles that address prospect pain points, infographics with research on how others solve a problem or customer stories in which peers share advice. With this information in hand, your sales team can stay close to prospects and customers, track their needs and have a greater chance of closing a deal or upselling.

About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.