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How Marketers Get Content Marketing Wrong, Always

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It’s a sad situation, if you think about it: Traditional media is dead. Online media is now popular. Yet, businesses are clueless about it. Some brands do get it right. Most businesses “try” to get online. A few will rise and shine. Most others will bite the dust.

It’s not like there’s dearth of ideas. It’s not because there isn’t enough creativity or writing smarts out there. It’s not even because small businesses cannot afford continuous content production.

It’s because businesses don’t find a compelling reason to produce content. They just don’t have that fire burning in the belly.

Passion is dead, for most businesses. Here’s why marketers get content marketing wrong, always:

We aren’t as smart as you think

It’s funny that you and I aren’t as smart as we should be, given that there’s information about everything, everywhere. It first stuck me about how dumb some people are when I had this client who had to get that one single blog post right. So, he wastes about 6 weeks on revisions. Can you imagine the sheer waste of opportunity here?

As marketers, we are extortionists – we tend to make use of opportunities to milk people off their money so that we can sell our wares. Capitalism teaches us that, so it’s all right.

While I don’t have a problem with capitalism, I do have a problem with dumb marketers, super egoists who become entrepreneurs, one-time authors who think they’ve attained nirvana, and average bloggers who think they can beat the Huffington Post or the NYTimes.

Worse still: I hate marketers and business owners who think they are smart enough to fool customers. You have no idea how smart customers are today. Go figure.

Customers don’t care about you

Seth Godin, in his book Purple Cow swears by the reality of the situation today. Over the years dominated by the TV-Industrial complex, customers did learn to ignore marketing messages. Billions of dollars are wasted on trying to get a customer’s attention and hoping that she’d walk to the store and buy.

The truth is that customers buy when they want to. They don’t buy because you opened shop. For marketers then:

  • There ought to be a way to keep customers engaged until they are ready to buy.
  • The method of engagement has to be cost-effective and not expensive like mass media is, for instance.

Thankfully, content marketing comes to the rescue. maintains that more than 90% of customers skip marketing pitches altogether and prefer conducting online research before they buy.  Over 50% of customers read user reviews before finalizing their buy. Martin Zwilling – a contributor for Forbes — points to a book titled Roadmap To Revenue by Kristin Zhivago where she points out some of those crucial steps marketers must do even if they have no control on customers’ buying decision. Some of her ideas include:

  • Find out what customers want using real customer interviews when you are actually selling them your products.
  • Adjust your offerings and match them with what your customers say they want.
  • If necessary, work on your entire business model and/or processes to get in line with customer expectations.

Use content to give customers what they want, to communicate your offerings, to gain their trust, and to influence them.


Learn from the best

Red Bull – the popular energy drink — is a good example. James O’Brien — a contributor to The Content Strategist by Contently – says it best while alluding to Red Bull’s Content Marketing Strategy on his post at 

“Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage”

Moz is a company that makes SEO software but it’s known for its popular blog that’s now the ultimate source for information on Search Engine Optimization and Online Marketing. Every customer who buys subscription access tools and information for SEO does so because they “trust” SEOmoz – thanks to the incredibly well written blog.

Wistia is an Online Video Hosting Provider but is currently an authority on making videos for business, using videos for business promotions, and on hosting video for marketing.  Their videos are great examples of “videos” are produced. Each piece of content on their blog works to build trust and hence their own sales.

HubSpot sells a CMS and a marketing system for businesses but it’s well known for its Content Carpet Bombing and is one of the leading resources for online marketing.

There are also a few companies such as Wix, Instagram, EventBrite, and KISSmetrics that get their content marketing strategy right, according to Sivan Cohen, head of content marketing at Conduit.

If you need more inspiration, The Content Marketing Institute has the Ultimate Ebook on 100 real content marketing examples that you can draw your inspiration from.

Ashwin Satyanarayana
Ashwin Satyanarayana
By Ashwin Satyanarayana ~ I am a digital Marketing professional and I run along with a few other properties. I am a happy marketer with an eye on making small businesses succeed.


  1. Kurt Frankenberg says:

    While I agree here with almost everything you said regarding consumers getting smarter, the need for engagement, and all… I gotta weigh in on ONE statement:

    “As marketers, we are extortionists – we tend to make use of opportunities to milk people off their money so that we can sell our wares. Capitalism teaches us that, so it’s all right.”

    Close, but no cigar ;-) An ‘extortionist’ is one that exploits an advantage he has over another to get them to take an action that normally, they would not.

    A ‘marketer’ — particularly a content marketer– is one that’s concerned with getting the consumer what they need, in a way that’s beneficial to both parties.

    Now, I know you probably said it tongue-in-cheek… but I prefer to think of my content marketing as a noble profession in which I get the goods to the folks that want it, before someone peddling a lower-quality solution actually DOES ‘extort’ the action.

    It’s a calling. It’s a philosophy. It’s a way of life for responsible producers to get needed products to the consumers… rather than allow them to fumble around in the dark.

    That said, rest of the post was spot-on. Appreciate the insights.

    Keep Stepping,


    • Hey @kurtfrankenberg:disqus :) I must agree with this on hindsight “A ‘marketer’ — particularly a content marketer– is one that’s concerned with getting the consumer what they need, in a way that’s beneficial to both parties”.

      It’s a calling, indeed. It’s a philosophy. True.

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