The 5 signs your content is a turn-off and what to do about it

Spending a lot of time and energy in your organisation on content, but still not sure if it’s working? You may be going through the motions without thinking about the subtleties of success – rather like this guy on his first date...

  • He’s wearing a bow tie. He’s watched a lot of films and that seems to get results (competitor research).
  • He’s brought flowers. He’s found out it’s likely to improve his chances with women under 35 (customer segmentation analysis).
  • He’s spent days growing manly stubble. This was more likely to get him a second date in the past (A/B testing).
  • He’s still single.

Love, just like content marketing, is about more than ticking boxes. So how can you tell if your content is killing the romance?

Here are my 5 signs your content is a turn-off – and, crucially, what to do about them:

  1. You’ve forgotten it’s a relationship…

    It takes so much effort to get something made, signed-off and live that you’ve forgotten what you’re doing it for in the first place. Perhaps you’ve been focusing on the content part of content marketing and not the marketing part of content marketing (with me?).

    Or perhaps you’ve spent so much time focusing on what you want out of the customer, you’ve forgotten that they have wants and needs too!

    What to do about it: Get together a mission statement for all your content marketing efforts. Don’t get hung up on the exact wording, just make it clear. It should be the sweet spot between your business goals, your customers’ needs, and your area of expertise. In dating terms, it looks a bit like this:



    Stick it all over your office and make it a ‘reason to say no to things’.
  2. You can’t stop talking about yourself…

    We’ve all been on those dates. As Doug Kessler from Velocity says: 'Content marketing starts with what your prospects need to find out about, not what you need to tell them.'

    Quick way to tell if you’re too inward-facing? Count how many times you say ‘we’ or ‘I’ in your content and try to add a few more ‘yous’.

    If you’re gating your content behind a data capture form – ask yourself just how generous this is. And are you adding value with your emails - giving people a reason to want to stay on your list? That’s more relevant than relevance.

    What to do about it: Work out who you’re creating content for with some content personas. Like buyer or user personas, but specifically linked to what content they need, and how you can add value to them.

    Don’t make assumptions about what they want! Ask them, or failing that, people who know them well. And if you have personas already, thikn hard about how those insights translate into content needs. 
  3. You have nothing interesting to say.

    That’s not a good thing in today’s cut-throat dating world, or today’s cut-throat digital world. Can you be a thought leader without any original thoughts? Not likely.

    This was a joke in 2014, not any more:



    What to do about: Get good at ideas meetings, by starting with your mission, using your personas, and sticking to some repeatable content formats you can fill. It’s much harder to start with a blank piece of paper than it is a format like, ‘Tech tip of the week’. We could probably all come up with one of those. If you need creative help, bring it in – from agencies, but also people outside your department with useful domain knowledge or just an alternative view.
  4. You’re forgettable

    You may be quite interesting underneath, but you’re so bland on the surface no-one will ever bother to find out. How to tell if this is your organisation? Play a game of spot the brand – take your content, hide brand references and mix it up with similar conten from other people in your industry. Now ask your team to find yours… When we play this in workshops, most people can’t recognise their own content!

    What to do about it: Stop sounding like everyone else by nailing a distinctive tone of voice. Decide what you want to sound and look like and get some guidelines together – use loads of best practice examples and before and afters. Bash people around the head with the guidelines until they stick to them.

  5. You don’t learn from your mistakes.

    It’s okay to make mistakes – but only if you don’t make the same one twice. If your date comments on your ‘loud’ shirt, don’t wear it again. Are you responding to feedback on your content?

    What to do about it: Create a brief for each piece of content you create, setting out what it’s trying to do and what it's supposed to look like. How will you be able to judge its success, otherwise, if you don’t know what it’s supposed to be in the first place? Run tests – use some of your time/budget to try new things and split test your efforts when you can. Learn from the results.

Happy dating!

Need help creating content that will win your customers’ hearts? Email us

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