Have you ever heard a public service announcement and just said to yourself, “Duh!” I hear these things sometimes and I just shake my head in disbelief that someone (maybe even many someones) were foolish enough to attempt whatever act of complete insanity made that message necessary. Nevertheless, it happens and it happens all the time.
Now maybe it’s just creativity running amuck in my brain, but these ads often bring some wacky parallels to mind. Can you imagine a public service announcement during the Ohio State vs. Michigan game that said, “Next week is Thanksgiving and the Big Ten Conference wants everyone to celebrate safely. So please, Never Carve Your Thanksgiving Turkey With A Chainsaw!”
I know that sounds crazy. But, we entertain crazy thoughts all the time when it comes to way we run our businesses – especially when it comes to how we create content for our websites. So, today I’m sharing what I consider to be the Top 10 Bad Content Creations Plans and why they don’t work. Hopefully, I can save you some hard lessons and painful mistakes. Alright, now put away the blowtorch and leave that birthday cake alone.
Top 10 Bad Content Creation Plans
10) I’ll Steal It From the Web and Call It Curating
I’ve made my opinions clear on this before and you can read the complete version here. For the purposes of this post, I”ll simply say that curators work in museums and galleries. They deal in priceless items of tremendous value using their substantial expertise and education to preserve them and their historic significance.
I have yet to see an article on the web that fits this criteria. That’s not to say that there isn’t value in occasionally sharing some of other people’s great content with your readers. But, most of the “content curators” I know are just trying to get mileage out of other people’s stuff because they either can’t or won’t create their own. Don’t be like that.
9) I Need An Article From Each Department
I have seen so many companies try this. They put either one person or (God forbid) a committee of people in charge of the website. The these well-meaning folks proceed to harasses all of the other departments for content to post. Our poor internet scapegoat (who is usually not a writer) proceeds to beg and plead for articles from other team members (who aren’t usually writers either) and, as a result, eventually turns to “curating” in order to get the job done.
Avoid this plan. It never works in the long run. Placing one person in charge of getting things posted is a good idea, if he or she is properly suited to the task. Your “web person” needs to be able to write or at least have the freedom to hire/contract someone who can. The reason being that, when the articles don’t come in from the various department (and they won’t), your “web person” must be able to create content anyway. Otherwise you’re just setting him or her up to fail.
8) I’ll Buy It From A Newsletter Service
Another seemingly good idea that doesn’t work long-term. These services can be found in nearly every market. They publish a newsletter full of trendy articles pertaining to a certain industry. In fact, many of them are published by companies who just publish newsletters for tons of different professions. This seems like a good idea on the surface, but it’s really not.
Your customers want to hear from you and some newsletter written by someone they’ve never heard of, won’t get it. Also, think about how many other companies are probably using the same newsletter as a “Get Out of Writing Free” card. Publishing this content just makes you sound like all of your competitors and you know as well I do that the most important part of a “Unique Selling Proposition” is the unique part.
7) We Gotta Push Blank This Month
This one is a classic. The owner comes into the sales and marketing department all lathered up about a dip in the numbers. He demands to know why Product X isn’t selling. While everyone looks for someone else to throw under the bus, he decides that the most urgent need on planet earth is to sell more of Product X.
The problem is that you are in the middle of a sales funnel for Product Y and, combined with your regular branding efforts, it’s working. Nevertheless, it’s his money, so you pull all of the content creation resources and redirect them to raising the sales of Product X. Just get ready, because in a few weeks he’ll be back with another crisis about a Product Y and you’ll start all over again.
6) I’ll Just Write What I Think and Call It “Blogging”
OK, I’ll admit that freedom of speech is one of the coolest things about living in America. And, who doesn’t like to spout off now and again? Just remember that you are trying to build a business, not host a talk show. Editorials are fine every once in a while. I’ve even encouraged you to include your opinions throughout your content. I think that’s important to your audience.
However, unless you’re filling a time slot on AM radio, make sure that you include helpful information that provides actual value to your audience. They will appreciate it, come back more often, and think much more highly of your company because of your service and professionalism.
5) I Post Something on the First Tuesday of Each Month
I wrote a 3-part series about this called “How to Create and Keep a Posting Schedule”. For now, let me just say, very honestly, that if you’re only going to post once a month – don’t bother. Seriously, you’ll never build a following or attract any decent traffic (let alone actually sell anything) posting once a month. and I’m not saying this to be a punk. I’m saying it because I’ve been there, tried it, and failed miserably.
If you want to publish a monthly newsletter, that’s fine. Just don’t assume that there’s no need to publish regular blog content as well. Your customers already hear from your competition every day and if you don’t work to keep them, there’s always someone else who will gladly take them from you.
4) Write Whatever You Want, Just Use The Right Keywords A Lot
If this is you, stop right now and listen to me. You’ve been given outdated SEO advice by someone who hasn’t kept up with the way things work on the web. Yes, there was a day when keyword placement (and even keyword stuffing) could get you ahead in the search engines. But, while keywords are still useful and important, those days are over!
This approach presents serious problems. First of all, writing whatever you want shows a complete lack of global planning and that won’t last. Secondly, overstuffing and article with keywords can actually hurt you in some cases. Please, please, please stick to the formula I gave you in the “Why Your Competitors are Killing You Online” series: Quality of Content + Quantity of Content x Consistency of Publishing = Success.
3) I’ll Just Talk About What’s Trendy, So There Will Always Be Something To Write
OK, and so will everyone else. So much for saying something unique and setting your company apart. Besides, unless you live in New York, Chicago, LA, or some other center-of-the-world megalopolis, the current trends probably don’t directly apply to you or your customers. Be real. Talk about the stuff that adds value to your customers’ lives.
Take into consideration what’s happening in your local market. Your audience will feel the effects of the local economy every day, so showing them how they can benefit from your knowledge and expertise right where they are is a much better plan. They will feel that you are in touch with them and you’ll be much better off.
2) I’ll Just Post Parts Of My Favorite Business Books
This can work on occasion. Just remember that you’re not saying anything unique by quoting some best-selling business author. If you feel particularly inspired by a recent read, quote it and then give your own personal thoughts about it or tell a personal story that relates. Another way to tackle this is to disagree with the author. Just make sure that your argument is based in solid data or real experience.
You can also do a product review on the book. Talk about the main points, give your personal take, and then list the things you learned as a result. Finish off by saying whether or not you would recommend this book to your customers. I know it’s basically a third-grade book report, but if it saves your audience time and money, you’ve provided value. Just be respectful. Nobody likes a punk.
1) I’ll Talk About Me, Because Everyone’s Like Me
I saved this one for last, because it’s the one I dislike the most. In advertising we have a term for ads like this. When someone writes an ad that says, “We do this,” and “We do that,” and “We’ve been in business for a million years,” they are said to be wee-weeing all over themselves.
You will inevitably be a part of any conversation, so there will be we’s and I’s in your posts. But people want to know how your content applies to them. The very act of providing value centers on giving to someone else. And giving while talking about how cool you are turns people off. Focus your writing on your audience. Remember that Good Content Creation is All About Giving. And giving is never about you.
Well, I’ve tried to offer some information wrapped in a fair amount of entertainment today. Hopefully you aren’t engaged in one of these bad content creation plans.
But, if you are fear not, because Monday’s post is all about good content creation plans that will work, so stay tuned.
Have you ever been involved in a bad content creation plan? What lessons did you learn the hard way? Share a comment and let’s talk about it.