Editors Say This Is The Biggest Problem With Your Content Marketing
The Problem of Promotion
Before I go any further, let me say that promotion isn’t inherently bad. Digital PR and advertising, for example, are great for promoting your brand and positioning yourself in a positive way in front of audiences. That’s their purpose. But it’s not the purpose of content marketing, and it’s definitely not going to get you anywhere with any online editor you’re pitching content to. The data on this speaks for itself. In “The State of Digital Media 2018,” my team found that 79 percent of editors say the biggest problem with content they receive is that it’s too promotional.
Editors and others who run online publications and media outlets basically all share one big goal: to deliver true value to their audiences and grow their readerships. That’s what they’re held accountable to. As marketing leaders, though, you aren’t exactly held to that same goal. You’ve got your own metrics and measures of success — and that’s where the disconnect comes from. But by meeting in the middle, you can work with publication editors in a way that helps you both meet your goals.
Steps to Eliminating Promotion in Your Content
When you focus on your audience, everyone wins. You position yourself as an industry thought leader by sharing your original expertise and educating others through your content, editors get content that’s free from promotion, and audience members get content they’ll love from outlets they trust. Here are three tips to help you ditch the self-promotion and start focusing on your audience:
Remember that it’s not all about you.
I still remember one of the best pieces of advice I ever received. When I started creating content, I got feedback on an article from someone I trusted. He reminded me that my articles aren’t really about me as the writer — they’re for my audience. It’s your responsibility as someone creating and using content to think of the members of your audience. Do everything you can to build and maintain your connection to them, and don’t do anything to risk that valuable relationship. So, ask yourself: Is this content more for me, or is it for my audience? If you can’t confidently say that it is specifically created to help your audience, then maybe you’re just adding to the problem.
Understand where publication editors are coming from.
Before you ever start creating content, you’ve got to know the rules of the publication you’re going to pitch it to. What does it consider too promotional? What tone does it like? What topics do well?This sounds pretty basic, but I’ve worked with editors at hundreds of publications in multiple industries for years, and you’d be surprised how many of them tell me they wish contributors would just read the publication first. Not every idea you have or article you write is a good fit for every audience. If you’re just producing content to get your name out there with no regard for the publication or its audience’s preferences, you’re going to have a hard time.
Work with a team to support you.
This is something I’m grateful for every time I publish. I work with a small content team that helps me refine my ideas and edit them professionally. Are they critical sometimes? Of course. But that’s part of what keeps content consistent and valuable. Each of us is inherently biased, so what you think is valuable and nonpromotional may not always be true for someone else. A skilled team can help you preserve your voice and your ideas without sacrificing your audience’s interests. If you can swing it, don’t go it completely alone. Content is an effective and easily scalable way for marketing leaders to reach and engage an audience, build influence, and generate meaningful returns. But to get the most value out of it, it’s time to rethink your tactics and leave the self-promotion behind. Your audience — and editors everywhere — will thank you for it.
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