The Airing of Grievances: What’s Your Content Marketing Gripe?!?

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Does content marketing ever frustrate you? Does it make you want to pull your hair out some days? Here’s your chance to not only let off some steam, but also to share your insights and advice with your peers from around the world.


In honor of Content Marketing World, which is taking place this week in Cleveland, Ohio, today’s post is all about the challenges we content marketers face. And, let’s be honest, there are plenty of them! Whether it’s getting the executive support we need to be successful, generating enough content to meet demand, or simply working with folks who think they can write but can’t, content marketing isn’t always easy.

That’s why today we are giving you the chance to air your content marketing grievances.


In the comments section below, simply share whatever your biggest content marketing challenges, frustrations, and gripes are for everyone to see. Don’t worry, you’re among friends, so feel free to let them rip!

However, there is one catch.

Once you’ve gotten everything off your chest, you also have to offer up some of your own wisdom and insights to help your fellow content marketers be more successful. That could be as simple as sharing a best practice or tip that’s worked well for you. If you’re feeling more ambitious though, you could also share some advice to help your peers overcome one of their challenges.

I’m kicking thing off with the first comment below. Join me by writing on our “content marketing wall” with your own grievances and, of course, some helpful advice.

Air your content marketing grievances below!

Photo by Daniel K.B. Schmidt

  • kevincain

    My content marketing gripe can be summed up in three letters: S-E-O. Search engine optimization is such a moving target that I feel like every time I’ve started to get a handle on it, the rules change. It seems like every few months Google is unleashing a fresh barrage of updates that make my job harder and harder. Does anyone have any tips about how to stay on top of these changes and at the top of Google’s search results?

    As far as advice or a tip goes, since I’m starting out I’d like to point you to a resource that covers a lot of bases — our latest eBook, “It Takes a Content Factory! A Guide to Creating and Delivering the Content Your Company Needs to Attract and Retain Great Customers,” which is full of ideas for developing and executing a successful content marketing program. We’re publishing this eBook this week, so keep an eye out for it on the OpenView Labs site. In the meantime, if you’re not already familiar with the Content Marketing Institute ( check out all of the great information available there!

    • Guest

      Great idea, Kevin.

      Skyword and Unisphere Research recently
      developed a survey on content marketing trends. Included in the survey
      were the top challenges to improving branded content as identified by
      hundreds of executives. The top three:

      1. Producing relevant content to engage your audience (66%)
      2. Producing enough content (53%)
      3. Creating content of a high caliber (44%)

      your consumer segments can be extremely challenging. My advice would be
      to spend time getting to know your audience. Conduct surveys, analyze
      website data, and research keywords to better understand your target market.
      If that’s not your area of expertise, I suggest partnering with a company that has extensive experience creating content strategies.

      Close to 9 out of 10 executives surveyed use
      Microsoft applications/systems (Word, Excel) to support content writers,
      which makes it difficult to manage the content creation process to
      produce enough content.

  • Rob Yoegel

    The first thing that comes to my mind is an important one (I think). The idea of “hiring a journalist.” While I don’t dispute that advice and still think it is sound, keep in mind that journalists aren’t used to having something they create not published. It takes someone with some thick skin to invest time and effort into a blog post, an ebook, whatever and have it (for whatever reason) pulled back to be re-done or not published at all. Is this my gripe? Maybe not. But you will likely have to deal with this within your organization.

  • Julie Riedel

    Fun idea, Kevin! 😀 OK, my gripe is managing the content calendar. It’s like having a best friend that drives you nuts. I love it and it keeps me sane to look at it every day knowing the kind of awesome stuff we have on the horizon, but talk about wrangling cats. Everything I’m personally creating can be held to a deadline, but I find many of my contributor deadlines are moving targets. And it’s not like they are being flaky–they genuinely have other priorities: high impact product-related work. Content marketing can’t take precedent over getting an awesome new product feature to market, so I gently back down and move their content deadline to a future date. It’s become business as usual for me to keep a certain amount of flexibility built into the calendar. But when I share my calendar with other folks at the company, I always feel the need to add the: “Errrm, these dates are likely to change” caveat. Sometimes I feel like my calendar rocks, and other days I face it with a furrowed brow. Has anyone out there mastered this?

    As far as SEO and Google are concerned, I think the first step to success is understanding that it truly IS a moving target. I almost wept last week when the Google Keyword Tool went away. All we can do is stay aware and tailor our approach. I recently signed up for a Coursera class called: Understanding Media by Understanding Google. It kicks off next week, runs for 6 weeks, and is taught by a Prof at Northwestern. It claims: “Through this course, you’ll join the minority that really gets it.” so I thought, “Bring it on!” I’m hoping there will be other managing editors enrolled so we can discuss our trials and tribulations in the forums.

  • ClareMcD

    Happy to see a venture capital firm using lolcat. Oh how things have devolved!

    Great post, Kevin. My biggest gripe is Vanilla. I see way too many B2B content marketers publishing content that’s too long, too dry, and short on true insight. The underlying problem I believe is two-fold: (1) Far too little time spent on understanding the audience, where they get info, what their questions are, and what excites them (2) Too little appreciation for the critical role of the writer—who is not simply a copywriter but also a researcher, analyst, interviewer, sometime-statistician, and storyteller.

    Advice for you Kevin on SEO… You’re sweating it because you’ve not mastered it. But guess what? No one has. I admire what you guys do at OpenView because I think you are expert tinkerers. And in my limited experience, SEO is all about tinkering. Something interesting I learned here at CMW (forgot which session) was the increasing importance of individual (i.e. a single, named author) credibility in search.

    • Hey Clare, several sessions mentioned the importance of Author authority in search, including mine right after Jay Baer’s keynote 🙂

      • ClareMcD

        [4 months later … jeesh] Hi Lee! I saw your session so it must have been you. Thanks for the insight!

  • I’m game!

    My grievance: Recycled brand crap packaged as “content.” If your stuff isn’t of intrinsic, material VALUE to your audience, it ain’t content.

    My tip: You’re sitting on more treasure than you suspect. Bring your peeps together for an uninterrupted, think-out-loud session with lots of coffee and good will all around. Ask for stories, anecdotes, tid-bits. Have someone write it down on the white board. Together, look for common themes and unexpected surprise insights. (They’ll be there, I promise.) From this collective binge of stories and shared expertise, you can draw: 1) your best ideas for a meaningful content “turf”; 2) you can come up with great ideas for specific tactical executions (papers, video subjects, blog series, live events, etc.)

    • Great suggestion, Jonathan! Love the idea of a think session — I’m going to give that a try. Adding lunch into the offer will probably go over well with my gang here.

      • Naomi: Glad you liked! When you set up this lunch, can I come?

  • Adam Vavrek

    Great idea, Kevin.

    Skyword and Unisphere Research recently developed a survey on content marketing trends. Included in the survey were the top challenges to improving branded content as identified by hundreds of executives. The top three:

    1. Producing relevant content to engage your audience (66%)
    2. Producing enough content (53%)
    3. Creating content of a high caliber (44%)

    Targeting your consumer segments can be extremely challenging. My advice would be to spend time getting to know your audience. Conduct surveys, analyze website data, and research keywords to better understand your target market. If that’s not your area of expertise, I suggest partnering with a company that has extensive experience creating content strategies.

    As far as the second pain point is concerned: Close to 9 out of 10 executives surveyed use Microsoft applications/systems (Word, Excel) to support content writers, which makes it difficult to manage the content creation process to produce enough content.

  • Jeff Eisenberg

    Does this airing of grievances come complete with a Festivus pole??

    I think the biggest frustration I’ve faced with content creation is getting others on board with the “sharing/helping” paradigm. And I think the challenge stems from two issues. First, this notion of “giving away” expertise is still a bit new. For content to be truly useful and break through the clutter it has to be, for lack of a more descriptive term, excellent. And to create excellent content, experts need to be willing to transparently share their thoughts, experiences and sometimes even their secrets. Speaking of experts sharing all that, it can be very difficult to leverage those expert resources. They’re often invested in other activities (sales, management, operations, etc.) and content creation simply isn’t a priority, so it can be an uphill battle.

    On the advice side, I think some of the best education I’ve received in content marketing has been around the generation of content ideas. They can come from anywhere, and the truly useful ones are found in some of the most obvious places. Begin a Google search on your topic of interest and let Google’s predictive text tell you exactly what people are searching for. Use Q&A sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers to get involved in the conversation. Engage in LinkedIn discussions. Read what competitors are talking about. The places to look can be endless.

  • jcrowe_openview

    Who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned gripe-off?

    Hands down, one of my top grievances is getting distracted by the wrong kind of metrics — things like page views and social followers and other vanity metrics. Or, as Rob Yoegel calls them, “reactionary” metrics. Don’t get me wrong, tracking things like page views and bounce rate and time on site can be insightful for marketers, but reporting them to management can cause headaches and even veer things off course by taking focus away from the larger, primary goal.

    Robert Rose makes a solid case for stripping reporting down to the bare essentials in a recent podcast & article he did with us ( and has a great story about telling his management team “You don’t care what the traffic to the web site is,” and providing them with two numbers: the number of leads he was generating and the percentage of his marketing budget he’d used.

    Is anyone else frustrated with too much attention being focused on metrics that aren’t really moving the needle?

    As for tips, I’m going to commiserate/respond to Jeff’s and Julie’s grievances below!

    • Brendan Cournoyer

      I haven’t listened to the podcast, but I’ve heard Rob discuss this topic before. I think what he is referring to are the metrics that are important to top-level management vs the metrics that matter to content marketers, which are often different (tho in my experience, most CMOs do care about web traffic — especially if it starts going down).

      I agree with Rob’s point about simplifying the reporting process with upper management to the bare essentials, but that doesn’t mean everything else should be ignored at the content marketing level. Traffic, social following etc. aren’t “vanity” metrics. They give you valuable insight into your audience and the effectiveness of your strategy. To not get bogged down, the focus should be on what you can learn from these metrics, not simply monitoring whether they go up or down. For example:

      – Top traffic drivers tell you what topics/formats resonate with your audience so you can continue to hone your efforts
      – Search traffic trends shed light on the effectiveness of your SEO strategy
      – Social referral traffic tell you WHERE your audience is most active so you can focus your attention of the most valuable channels, or areas where your presence needs to improve

      Etc etc. All of these things contribute to the leads, conversions and so on that the top level and sales managers care about. It’s not that they don’t matter, it’s that you need to find ways to gain actionable value from them.

      • jcrowe_openview

        Good clarification, Brendan. You’re right — on the front lines it’s important to get as much insight into your effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) as possible, but the point is to make sure what you’re focusing on is actionable. The danger is in getting caught up in simply monitoring the metrics and losing sight of how they fit in with the bigger picture and can help you adapt your approach to meet your larger goals.

        On a different note, here’s a question for you: Josh Z. makes a good point above that marketers should be wary of chasing trends and trying out new formats before verifying your prospects’ and buyers’ are interest/receptiveness. Do you have any recommendations for how to do relatively quick/inexpensive experiments with new formats to establish their effectiveness before you dive all in?

    • Amen, Jonathan. If the metrics are not directly tied to predetermined objectives (and instead, represent peripheral areas of performance), they distract rather than inform — and can lead to misleading impressions and misdirected decision-making

  • abelniak

    My gripe/issue is how to attribute a content piece to a conversion or revenue. First touch, last touch, spread evenly, …. Lots of ways. Which is best? Or even *applicable*?

    Great idea for the post, Kevin!

  • I think my biggest gripe about publishing to the web is also it’s biggest asset: the lack of any fixed schedule. Sure, I can make as many calendars and checklists as I want. But in the end, I know those schedules come from me and, as Julie said, they are all likely to be moving targets. When you’re trying to keep up a steady flow of content, that intrinsic flexibility can become a huge frustration.

    The latest thing that I have used to keep my large pieces of content on schedule is tying the release to an event — maybe a show, webinar, or podcast. Then, I build my checklist back from that pub date and am forced to keep on schedule. And I’ve given myself a deadline and vehicle for promotion all in one!

    With the large content elements on schedule, I’m able to relax a bit and not mind quite so much when the other “smaller” content becomes moving targets.

    • jcrowe_openview

      I love this approach, Naomi! Things are always going to shift, and for many “smaller” pieces of content, it often doesn’t really matter whether they move around a bit.

      We’ve found that, for us, anchoring our calendar with our “big-ticket” and timely items and surrounding them by a “supporting” (and rotatable) cast of content is the way to go.

      Another key is to plan far enough out and build up a large enough backlog of content to accommodate flexibility and potential last-minute changes. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but it can pay off huge in the long run.

      • Naomi Eigner Price

        Definitely, Jonathan! Kevin shared those suggestions at a content planning day we did in your offices a few months ago and it’s been a huge help. The key seems to be anchoring the big-ticket content to the fixed event — then I make sure that the surrounding content falls in on a less strict schedule — I hate to admit it, but with so much going on, a forced deadline like that really helps to keep things focused.

    • Julie Riedel

      OK, I’m glad to hear this. I do have my larger pieces tied to major releases, announcements, and related events, so those do go off on time. I guess I beat myself up a little when my smaller pieces get off track.

      • Naomi Eigner Price

        You are definitely not alone, Julie … not by a long shot!

    • I think tying content to events is a good idea. I also wish more of my clients took advantage of the event to create a fast, post-event piece, maybe a 2-page summary of the most provocative ideas or controversies that arose at the event, or even a “quip sheet” of the most memorable quotes from speakers. I mean, why the hell not? It wouldn’t take long to create and it would expand the value of the initial investment in the event.

      • Naomi Eigner Price

        You know, that is something I’ve been trying to implement without much luck. When I was with Reed Elsevier (who I think you’ve worked with, too?) and then UBM, we always had journalists at the shows who provided tweets and short blogs throughout the day and then longer blogs each night and full articles for the print pub. Have been trying to get at least the tweets and blogs from the folks who attend shows at my current B2B company, but people are so busy that it is hard to add one more request to their already full schedule.
        Kevin and J. Crowe, I can already hear your response! “Make writing everyone’s priority.” All I can say is, easier said than done.

        • Naomi: I believe that making employees tweet and blog, without compensation in time or money, is not only counterproductive, but unethical. Period. So I agree with you.

          But if companies can pay for content creation tied to an event’s launch, I think they should consider paying a bit more to create a smaller content piece (be it print, video, digital, etc.) to maximize investments they’ve already made. (And, of course, the people who create this additional content MUST be justly compensated.)

  • Josh Zywien

    As a newspaper reporter turned content marketer, I can certainly attest to Rob’s point. Brand journalism requires a very different mindset and skillset than traditional journalism, and not all reporters are flexible enough to make that transition. That’s not to mention, of course, the intricacy and nuance of writing for the Web vs. writing for print. Learning and adapting to those differences is possible (I’d like to think I’ve done it), but it’s up to the writer to evolve, and not all journalists are willing to do that.

    That being said, my gripe is similar to the one that Clare shared. Generally, B2B content is far too dry. It’s very mechanical and robotic, and brands seem afraid to let their personalities show. Now, I’m not suggesting that B2B companies should strive to be like their more freewheeling B2C counterparts — they are, after all, engaging very different audiences. But, as Clare pointed out, brand journalism (or content marketing) is all about telling a story. You can’t do that by publishing trite, colorless content that reads like everything else your industry is producing.

    As for a recommendation: Don’t be afraid to break the mold. Too often, the tendency with content marketing is to do what everyone else is doing. Your competitor creates a blog, so you do, too. Your competitor releases an eBook, so you create an eBook. Infographics? They’re hot right now, so you scramble to create an infographic. The truth is that playing content catch-up won’t get you anywhere. You have to figure out what kinds of content formats your buyers prefer, and then focus your energy on delivering unique, high quality content in those formats. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t experiment with new content formats or explore new distribution channels, but I’d caution against chasing trends if those trends aren’t relevant to your audience. At the end of the day, your goal as a publisher should be to deliver high-quality, fresh, and insightful content to your buyers. You do that by observing their content consumption and engagement patterns, not the content creation trends of your peers.

    • Rob Yoegel

      Thanks, Josh. Good comment as well.

  • Hi Everyone,

    My biggest challenges/grievances: I agree with others who have said that B2B content is often SO BORING. It’s so dry, super corporate, and it really doesn’t have to be. Part of the problem is finding a balance between the brand’s voice and a personable style. A lot of companies need content and copy overhauls to adjust their strategies, which makes it super tough on a writer. It’s tough for a writer to create compelling content when there are strict rules about the voice they can use and the topics they can write about. Great content requires a lot of time and a huge amount of creativity, which is so tough in a stifling environment.

    As far as being successful? Being able to do something different, a little crazy, and risky is pretty much the only way to be successful. If you’re doing what everyone else is doing in an effort to be safe, how are you going to be different from your competitors? How will you stand apart? It’s doing something different, but you’ve got to keep the audience in mind ALWAYS. One of the other commenters mentioned playing ‘content catchup,’ which is a horrible way to make content. You should think first about the value you want to create, then choose the best medium for it.

    Content is not just for content. Content is for value.

  • Mark Sherbin

    I think it’d be nice if we could all sign some kind of document agreeing to never create clickbait like the Buzzfeeds and HuffPos of the world. I even see this happen occasionally with big name marketing brands. It can be especially hard to avoid in B2C.

    The best place to start is to put every headline to the test to make sure it isn’t misleading.

    • jcrowe_openview

      Agreed! Still okay if we use pictures of Grumpy Cat, though?

      • Mark Sherbin

        You’re okay! We’ll talk again when you post “9 Things Content Marketers Can Learn from Grumpy Cat.”

    • YES to all of this. Thank you. I actually wrote about this recently:

      • Mark Sherbin

        Great post, Megan! I’m glad to see people are actually recognizing that there’s no future in this kind of content.

        I’d love to take these concepts a step further and encourage people to not just stop creating this content but to also stop clicking on it!

  • Bridget Quigg

    I love writing titles for all kinds of media – videos, webcasts, blog posts, whitepapers, newsletters, etc. They’re a puzzle. I’ll often come up with a long list and one will stand out. But, it always makes me sad to see the one that is pure alliteration, or not PC, or funny but impolite, get washed away because we can’t publish it. I get it. It’s just sad, like nixing “A Tranquil Trip to Transparency” for a recent case study. It made me laugh every time I read it.

    • Josh Zywien

      Definitely agree, Bridget. Particularly in the B2B world, content marketers walk a fine line between being creative, provocative, and offensive. And while I’m all for alliterations and word play, that creativity is only helpful if it jives with the content and the audience.

      I think the best headlines give readers a compelling reason to hang around, and they do it in as few words as possible. At times, that can be accomplished with a crafty alliteration or play on words, while other circumstances call for simpler (and, yes, less exciting) headlines that get right to the point. The challenge is obviously determining the context in which creativity makes sense. Like you said, doing that can sometimes feel like working on an unsolvable puzzle.

  • Great article, Kevin. I have a couple of grievances to share involving social media and content marketing. The first is getting leadership buy-in for resources spent on social media. I’ve been lucky to have supportive leadership who believe that social media and community building are inextricable from an effective content marketing strategy, but I’ve spoken to several peers who struggle to convince leadership that social media is a crucial component of content creation. If a tree falls in the forest … if you create content and no one sees it, does it make a sound? I’d be interested in hearing from people regarding approaches to this issue.

    The second is getting other employees in your organization engaged with social media. There’s no shortage of reasons why a content marketer would be interested in this: thought leadership, content strategy, prospecting, etc., but it can be difficult to get people interested. I’ve had some success dealing with this issue, most of which is detailed here ( and can be boiled down to this: Make it as easy as possible. Your job is that of an educator and an assistant of sorts. Teach people the whys and hows, then give them all the tools they need.

  • kevincain

    Great comments, everyone! Let’s keep the conversation going.

  • Anna Sharkansky

    I’ve got 99 problems and content marketing’s one.

    Probably the biggest challenge I’ve faced is getting executive buy-in on the value of content marketing. And it’s the biggest challenge because it’s got such a trickle effect. Executives don’t support the content marketing efforts > they’re less accessible to provide expertise and thought leadership for content > members of their teams aren’t encouraged to support marketing in the creation / promotion of content > marketing turns to outside resources for content creation support > those resources aren’t nearly as good as internal SMEs…it’s a vicious cycle.

    As far as advice: we’ve recently seem some success with a new approach to the content creation process. In the past we’d conducted interviews with our subject matter experts, drafted the content and then sent it back to them for review and sign off. Then we’d wait. Sometimes for weeks. So we tried something new. When setting up the initial interview or brainstorming session with the SME, we also put all future review meetings on their calendar as well. And the reviews took place in person, at the scheduled times, instead of decaying in the bottom of an inbox. This might seem like extreme hand-holding, but it’s a way we’ve found to be successful with some of our SMEs and hit our deadlines.

  • Lauren Sozio

    I’d say my biggest pain point is the balance between quality and quantity. Keeping up with quality content creation can be a challenge when you’re trying to keep your audience engaged on a regular basis. At first, it seems like the world’s your oyster, the contributors are eager, and the topics are endless. But then comes the point when you hit that plateau – and need that fresh perspective to keep the content engine running. That’s about the same time when you realize that you can’t just create content for the sake of content without having an overall plan in place.

    When I first realized that I was becoming more reactive than strategic, I forced myself to step back and reevaluate. I tallied up the program’s successes and weaknesses, reviewed what was working and what was holding us back, and saw that the biggest problem was the allocation of time and resource to content creation. I was feeling maxed out, and either had to sacrifice some of the content I was producing or get some more hands on deck to support me.

    I would advise any content manager not to be afraid to step back at least twice a year – and really give yourself a honest evaluation of wins and losses. In the end, the big picture is more important than all the comma splices and run-on sentences that weigh you down on a daily basis. It will make the difference between good and great thought leadership.

    • Wow, this is such a great response, Lauren. I’m right there with you re: quality vs. quantity and the need to periodically step back. It’s a hard thing to do, especially once you’ve established a routine & process that’s working. But unless you take time to retrospect, gain perspective, and re-validate your processes/assumptions sooner or later you’re bound to start experiencing diminishing returns (both in terms of performance and emotionally).

      There’s the classic startup advice, “Get out of the building,” which points out the flaws of working in a vacuum and the importance of having real interactions with your customers/audience. In their book The Lean Entrepreneur Brant Cooper and Pat Vlaskovits actually underscore the importance of continuing to get out of the building throughout every stage of company growth. That’s great advice for marketers, too.

  • Oh I have a gripe: when content producers think they have to always promote the brand or pitch company products in their content. It makes me nuts!

    There are a ton of early stage questions customers ask about what solutions are and how to solve their problems. This content should not even mention your products. When they start to search for who can help them solve their problems, it’s obviously ok to address that question (generally on your website). But we have to shift the balance to the early stages.

    Content that is truly helpful and devoid of selling will get more engagement, build trust with your audience and ultimately lead to leads and sales.

    Content marketers: Take your brand or products out of the story!

    • Love that one. I like what Joe Chernov said (in a CM World session you chaired if I’m not mistaken): Top of Funnel content should be divorced from your products but wedded to your values.

  • Allie Kelly

    I agree, @jeffbeisenberg , we should have a Festivus pole to make this official. At this moment, my biggest challenge is finding a way to limit my grievances to an acceptable length.

    As is the nature of living the startup lifestyle, my challenges are constantly changing and evolving. Just when I think I have solved the issue of creating enough content, I realize the problem is now managing the process. If feeding (or wrangling) the proverbial content beast isn’t the problem, then I am struggling to make my content really work – for me and my audience. Creating content that both engages AND drives better business outcomes is certainly up there. And, of course, getting the most bang for my buck by reusing/repurposing long-form content is never as easy as it should be. I could go on, but my high-level challenges are the same as most, so I will spare you the redundancy.

    This week, my biggest challenge is on the sales enablement side of content marketing – getting the sales teams to articulate the ‘voice of the customer’ in way that allows us marketing folk to create content that will truly resonate with prospects and customers. Next week, however, my biggest challenge will be attribution. Knowing (or, not knowing) what content works on which channel(s), when and why, AND having (or likely not having) the data to back it up can always put a damper on a quarterly review.

  • Alex Flores

    One gripe I have when regarding content marketing is the disappointing feeling I get after I read a catchy/engaging title but then lead to an extremely boring piece of content. Ah the frustration! Sometimes i feel as if authors are spending the majority of their time coming up with these captivating titles just so that a person can be fooled when it comes up on their Twitter feed.

    For instance I was just going through my Twitter feed and I came across the tweet – “The Future of Marketing Has Little To Do With Marketing”. Boy, did this catch my attention. I quickly opened the link and was brought to a post that was as engaging and informative as a toddler’s opinion on the marketing world. If you’re going to have a title this drastic, I think you owe it to your audience to deliver content that is just as engaging.

    Quit the title facade or start developing super content that matches your bold titles!

    • Julie Riedel

      Hear! Hear! I cringe at baited headlines.

    • M. McGlynn

      I should have jumped onto this thread earlier because I wanted to remark that what brought me here was the Seinfeld reference! However, I stayed for the content and all of the excellent tips that everyone has brought forth.

    • Yes. One of the cardinal rules of headline copy should be, “If you tease, you have to please”: the post has to fulfill the promise.

  • Jeff (and Allie), ask and you shall receive — we now have our very own Festivus pole at the top of the post.

    As for your gripe — I think this is one of the biggest ones out there. Getting buy-in and participation can be tough, but as you point out, it’s also critical. As far as getting buy-in goes (and dismissing the notion that “giving away” expertise is bad), Marcus Sheridan has some good advice and even makes a solid case USING REAL NUMBERS As far as ROI incentive goes, there’s also the great story of how Joe Payne, former CEO of Eloqua scored $1 million in new business with one well-timed blog post:

    We’re lucky here at OpenView to have participation in our content efforts baked solidly into the culture and our processes, but even still, we run into problems getting participation from time to time. As you pointed out, content creation just isn’t a top priority for everyone all of the time. That’s why one approach that can be effective is to not make it about content creation at all (at least overtly).

    Building off Jonathan K.’s advice below, scheduling “think-out-loud sessions” (we pleasantly refer to them as “brain dumps”) with execs and doing much of the creating on your own (or via a freelancer) for the exec to later review can go a long way toward cutting down on resistance and barrier-to-entry.

    In the end, though, execs have to want to be thought leaders and they have to see the value in it. Not sure anyone can completely trigger that desire/understanding 100%, but pointing them to key examples of it working can be a good start.

  • Gripe: As a consumer of content, I’m appalled at what companies, and increasingly individuals and publications as well, put their name on.

    If content marketing becomes another way to get people to your site or to get your name into their feed, it will flounder the same way bullhorn broadcasting your sales pitch will flounder. The problem with content marketing today isn’t the proverbial sales pitch, it is the deluge of content or information that either doesn’t matter or isn’t trustworthy.

    Sadly, the solution, although simple, is generally ignored. Don’t publish dreck. There is a lot of truth in the statement that companies need to become publishers and media companies. But what’s often missed is the fact that publishing starts with an editorial mission and good publishers are fanatical about keeping the audience at the center of everything they do. They realize that if they are no longer not just relevant, but the most relevant, to their audience, they will no longer have an audience. Most content marketers are a very long way away from meeting this standard.

  • Gripe: Lazy’ curation’ that doesn’t even try to add value to the conversation: just an (often automated) ‘scrape & dump’.

    Tip: Curation is a powerful tool. But be a real curator, selecting with intelligence, summarising with sensitivity and adding your own analysis of the implications of the content you’ve shared.

  • Great idea Kevin and nice seeing you today. Hopefully we can connect more at another event 🙂

    My gripe is how folks in the search marketing world define “content marketing”: as simply more content to promote and attract links. When SEOs talk about persona’s they’re not talking about a customer segment, they’re talking about fake profiles to use when link building. Similar language, yet very different meaning. This misinterpretation means lost opportunity for brands that think content marketing is just a SEO tactic when it’s obviously something much bigger and meaningful.

    As for a tip, I’ll share a little on content and search integration: Search visibility is an incredible discovery mechanism for content for any customer segment and across each buying cycle. Content planning and creation should factor amplification like SEO in from the start. That way the continued creation of themed content that is amplified via social and other channels will contribute to stated business goals as well as provide search engines the signals they need to find, understand and rank your content.

    Optimization is more than that of course: technical, data driven, continuous testing and refinement. Search and content are a perfect partnership for connecting content with people that are actively looking.

  • Gripes of content creator…

    First: I suggest a killer content idea and the client responds with “How much will that cost me?” I maintain if you think of marketing as a spend or cost center, it likely will be. Think of it as an investment and get to work making it work. That is, aim for it to MAKE money. Perhaps marketers are overly conditioned by decades of burning money on buys that didn’t pay off. But friends, when you do strategic online content marketing, it’s doesn’t swirl down the potty. It’s there for the long haul, hopefully performing like a magnet.

    … and speaking of strategy…

    Second: Far too many marketers continue practicing random acts of marketing. “We need a video/facebook promo/(fill in the blank)” so often precedes the necessary strategy session. Plan, please.

    • Tami Demayo

      There’s nothing new under the sun. It used to be, “We need a brochure for the trade show. Now, what are our messages?”

  • Brendan Reid

    I feel the pain of many of these gripes; the moving target of SEO and inspiring executive patience in content marketing in particular. But right now one of my bigger challenges is in striking a balance between empowering content creators to write/produce with their authentic voices and tones while at the same time managing a transformation of our brand personality. On the one hand, content written in an authentic voice is more powerful and resonates with the audience better but on the other hand, the collective personality expressed by all the content in aggregate can be a bit confusing. For the moment i am favoring authentic, individual voices and personalities over and above any consistency of voice or tone at the corporate brand level — we’ll see how it goes and would welcome advice.

    One thing we’ve been particularly successful at doing at our company is hiring Community Managers vs. Content Managers. Community Managers are aligned with our core customer segments and live and breath one segment only. The impact is content which is highly targeted and written with a depth of knowledge and insight that makes it stand out from other content which can often be generic or self centered. I highly recommend giving it a try.

  • M. McGlynn

    I have to agree with comments that Emma has made about the challenge of striking the right balance between making somewhat dry content engaging by inflecting personality into the piece, but without losing sight of the brand’s own voice.

    My suggestion for trying to spruce up dull content without teetering too far away from the brand’s point of view is to experiment with tone and on occasion, write a content piece that’s totally different from what you’ve done before – while still appealing to the interests of your main audience. Also, try to tie content pieces in with relative news articles or pop culture references whenever possible. I must say Kevin has done a great job of this here with both the Seinfeld reference and the Grumpy Cat photo!

  • Luke Kintigh

    My Gripe: the lack of energy, resources and budget put behind the distribution of content. You’re not when you click publish… Content, no matter how good it is won’t go far unless there’s a strategic promotion plan involving all the touch points for audiences today (and there’s a lot). Many content creators spend all their time and budget on development and hope for the “field of dreams” approach once the content is published. My advice: take half your time and budget and allocate to promoting your content.

  • Kevin, I am so glad that we connected again at Content Marketing World. The biggest challenge for me is how to repurpose content effectively and quickly so that it’s easy to scale to different regions or different channels.

  • RebeccaLieb

    Content marketing is NOT the same thing as content strategy
    (tried to use the ‘unequal’ sign, which did not render here).

  • I have a slightly different gripe, coming from the perspective of working with clients to educate them on what quality content is and who to target for nurturing. Often they want to mimic internet marketers’ sales pitches they see and call it nurturing content. All they succeed in doing is annoying their target market and increasing unsubscribes. And then they complain that nurturing content doesn’t work.

    The advice I have is to research your target market and the key contacts within it so you know what content will be of high value. Then trust that if you’re offering quality content aligned with the target market, your content will be successful. (Of course, that means that like others here have mentioned, it has to be well written, use SEO, and be easily accessible – another of my gripes but I’ll save that for a different time!)

  • Great blog idea to launch during Content Marketing World, Kevin. Congrats on the great comment-bait idea! 😉

    I’d have to add when marketers focus on content before understanding their business goals. Producing content for the sake of only gaining tweets, Facebook Likes and comments is a wasted exercise.

    Content without conversion is just free publishing! As I said in my talk at CMW, if Content is King, Revenue is Queen. More on that topic:

  • That content marketing is focused on the “content” and the “marketing” of that content. It’s not about the end user, or at least the way the phrase is positioned in the mind it’s not.

    When talked about on esteemed blogs it tends to present itself like a mid level lawyer who is really minting it by craftily scaling a loop hole found in the contracts of care home construction.

    It’s not sleezy as such, and its heart is not black, more or a beige, vanilla blend.

    Sorry to sound a little sardonic but you did invite greivances.

    Because it comes over in this mechanical and yet scalable way a lot of agencies simply think they can bolt on the copywriting dept and rename it content marketing. Apologies to any copywriters out there, but I have yet to read corporate copy that could not be interrupted by someone yelling, “Hey check out this cat video on Youtube”.

    Of course the stuff that works does not look corporate and is probably created by some rocket-minded beatnik about to go on a three month peyote tour of the Mexico Badlands.

    Content creation should not be in the hands of someone who aspires to drive a Lexus and has a ten year plan.

    Problem is, it’s the polished shoe business type that can book ass time on the sofa of the CMO and not the creative. But then the creative may in a haze of Cherios and acid flashbacks create a content campaign that has a tasty branding bomb waiting to go off.

    The story or the narrative which resonates, which attracts and holds the reader in vice like grip until the denouement should be the focus, everything else is secondary, still important but next in line.

    Great content is not great content. Great content is a great story.