The 4 Biggest Myths of Content Marketing

April 13, 2011 •

We believe in content marketing and we’ve seen the results, both working on behalf of our clients and also for our own company (that oh so appetizing phrase of “eating your own dog food”). It’s one of the reasons we launched our Content Magnet service, to even more effectively present and help people understand the different aspects of content marketing. And yet, even though the word “marketing” is in the phrase “content marketing,” we’ve consistently found that forgetting about the marketing part is the biggest content marketing mistake companies make.

Typically we see things go wrong when organizations fall prey to one of these major content marketing myths:

Myth 1: Writing is easy.

Everyone thinks they can write.  Yet anyone who has lived through enough website projects knows that content development frequently causes huge delays. Folks wouldn’t dream of thinking they could design their own website just because they downloaded Photoshop.  Yet, for some reason, since everyone has Microsoft Word, writing is perceived as easy.

What’s missing in this approach is proper planning. Content marketing is no different from other marketing channels – to be successful you need to have a strategic and tactical plan centered around unified goals and objectives. Without that, even if you think the writing part is easy, it’s likely not going to be effective.

Myth 2: Once the writing part is done, I just post it and readers start rolling in.

Companies assume that (channeling my Field of Dreams voice) “If you write it they will come.”  In reality, quality content does not magically find its way into the hands of its target audience like the ballplayers from the film magically coming out of the cornfield. That’s why organizations that invest in content creation (which, as we discussed above “should be pretty easy”) get blindsided when their content marketing effort doesn’t impact traffic, lead generation or customer acquisition. They built the field, but nobody came to play.

Any content marketing effort needs to incorporate both an optimization strategy and a distribution strategy.  It’s not enough to write it, post it, and forget about it. The key is to have a cohesive optimization and distribution plan to target a qualified audience and increase each piece of content’s reach.  This is a large factor in the “marketing” part most people ignore when it comes to content marketing.

Myth 3: Let’s just keep writing and something will happen,

This follows the first 2 points – without a plan, and without optimization and distribution, it’s hard to have a solid understanding of what’s working, what’s falling flat, and how to adjust. Most organizations, even if they do some data reporting, miss the critical marketing function of analysis – the difference being what the numbers are (data) and what the numbers mean (analysis).

Myth 4: This content marketing thing sounds hard – let’s just do something with social media

10 tweets and 3 Facebook posts a week do not a content marketing strategy make.  Mike outlined this in his post Don’t Let the Social Media Tail Wag the Content Marketing Dog. As Mike writes:

“While content marketing efforts are absolutely enhanced via social media marketing, content marketing can happen without social media marketing. On the flip side, social media marketing loses a whole lot of punch without content marketing. Without content, social media marketing stops after 140 characters and only continues when you’re ready to answer the question “What’s happening?” again, or listen to someone else’s response to that question.”

Social media marketing is not only an enhancement of a content marketing strategy but, when done well, is a form ofcontent marketing.

Keep these myths in mind and make sure you don’t make the biggest content marketing mistake – forgetting about the marketing.

Want to learn more?  Sign up to join us as Mike Sweeney and I outline the anatomy of a content marketing strategy in our April 27th webinar What if You Build It and They Still Don’t Come?



About the Author

As Right Source’s chief marketing technology officer, Will Davis oversees the intersection of marketing strategy, consulting, execution and technology for our clients. He focuses first on business objectives and then on helping clients leverage marketing and technology to deliver against those objectives. A recognized leader in content marketing, Will has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in government and politics and broad experience developing marketing strategies that help organizations reach milestones and grow. You can find Will on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn, or read his other posts.

  • I don;t find that “writing is easy” is such a common myth. In fact, it’s the writing that gives most people pause about content marketing. It’s a big hurdle for some companies — especially smaller ones — to get over.

    • Will Davis

      Thanks for reading and for commenting Bob! While we certainly believe that writing can be a big hurdle for many companies (which is why we help them with that piece), we also run many that take the writing part for granted — at least until the rubber meets the road and it’s time to actually do it consistently.

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