Successful content marketing has to do one thing really well: connect with people in a way that encourages them to buy stuff sometime down the road. Those of us in the content trade thank our lucky stars that it’s hard work to get content quality right.
And yet we can’t help lamenting the killers of content quality. It’s never one thing: Under the right (well, wrong) circumstances, the best of us can produce the worst dreck. Depending on the breaks, a million-dollar budget can yield a bright-and-shiny flop.
So, what kills content quality? Here’s a look at three of the most common culprits:
1. Blind Leadership
Awhile back I clicked on a Netflix-streaming movie with platinum credentials: Created by the legendary Coen Brothers, it cast George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, two of the most bankable names in Hollywood, in the lead roles. And somehow the result was a dreadful movie (“Intolerable Cruelty” could’ve been grounds for a class-action suit by ticket buyers).
How did these cinematic all-stars produce such a junk pile? OK, I wasn’t on the set or in the editing room so I don’t really know why the geniuses behind “O Brother Where Art Though” missed the mark so badly, but I’ve survived enough content train wrecks to know what usually happens: People at the top make up their minds that everything’s going to be fine and ignore one warning after another that the train’s about to jump the tracks.
Oblivious leadership is the hardest thing to prevent because we’re all obliged to follow our leader’s direction. That’s why it’s incumbent on anybody in charge of a content project to stay on alert for warnings that things are about to go off the rails. (And be glad you’re not in the movie business, where everything rides on a single piece of content — the finished film.)
2. Poor Planning
What are we to do if top-drawer talent can’t guarantee success? To date, the only thing we know for sure is that sticking to a blueprint still works.
Low-quality content almost always reveals poor planning. If you build your content strategy around instructional videos but you can’t afford a video team, you have to set aside time to learn to do it yourself (and multiply your time estimates by three). You don’t ask writers to turn 1,500-word white papers in 48 hours.
The great thing about planning is that it creates time to make up for talent failures. If you have plenty of wiggle room, you’ll be able to replace people who aren’t a good fit for your project before it‘s too late.
3. Hurry that Turns to Panic
Haste is your worst enemy, especially when time is short. The key to getting things done quickly in a short time frame is to hurry at tasks that don’t require precision and maintain a professional pace where everything has to be done just right.
Think about the two-minute drill in pro football. The best teams do something remarkable: They hurry like crazy between plays, but as soon as the quarterback takes the snap, they do everything at their regular pace — because all their plays require exact timing.
Too often, the urge to get things done quickly turns into a panic to do everything as fast as possible, producing sloppy, obviously-hurried content. Some jobs, whether you’re proofreading or ensuring regulatory compliance, have to be done at a methodical pace. The key is to hurry up at tasks around the margins and leave enough time to do your best at work that cannot be hurried.
More Killers of Content Quality
These aren’t the only common killers of content quality. Come back Thursday to learn three more problems that could be wreaking havoc on your content marketing efforts.
Reputation Capital Media Services is a Baton Rouge marketing agency that helps B2B companies and their marketing agencies produce high-quality digital content, including blog posts, e-mail newsletters, white papers and multimedia. Our editors and writers are experts in their fields, which include HR technology, employee benefits, and financial services and accounting. Contact us for a free 30-minute consultation to find out how great content can help you attract and retain your customers.