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5 mistakes to avoid when creating marketing content

So, you’re getting ready to create new marketing content for your company.  (Fun, fun!) Before you begin, learn the five mistakes that companies make during the creative process. By avoiding these pitfalls, you can keep your budget, project scope and sanity in tact!

Mistake #1: Skipping brand strategy.

Yes, it’s tempting to jump right into writing your marketing copy or working on your graphic design.

Jumping over brand strategyBut if you haven’t given any thought to your brand identity, you run the risk of creating marketing materials that look and sound like everybody else’s.

Lots of features.

Lots of benefits.

Not enough strategy and purpose.

Do you enjoy throwing your marketing dollars away? Me neither!I suggest a different approach.

Consider these tips…

  • If you need a lot of help defining your brand, invest in a brand consultant or a professional branding company. A branding expert can help you figure out what makes your company special. Branding can help you differentiate your business in a way that appeals to your customers.
  • If you know what makes your company unique, partner with a copywriter or graphic designer who will take you through a comprehensive “creative discovery” process. This is your chance to explore your goals, target audiences, brand identity, and competition. Creative discovery takes place at the beginning of your project, so you can be more strategic in your messaging and design.

Mistake #2: Not having clear direction.

If you don’t have clear direction or defined goals when you start your marketing project, you can end up with marketing content that does very little for your business.

Before you know it, you’re back to throwing your dollars away.

Consider these tips…

  • Think about your goals. What do you want your marketing content to do for you? (Build awareness of your company, drive a behavior, shift perceptions, something else?) How will you know when you’re successful?
  • Share your goals with your creative partner. If you’re working with a good copywriter or graphic designer, that person should ask you about your goals. With that said, the more proactive you can be, the better! If your copywriter knows what you’re trying to accomplish, he or she can tailor your marketing content to your specific needs.

Mistake #3: Writing by committee.

Every company has one… The finance guy who fancies himself to be “a bit of a wordsmith.” The operations gal who likes to make her mark on anything she can find. (She’d edit the company phone directory if you gave her a chance.)

Put that guy and that gal on a committee with other aspiring creative experts, and you’ve got the makings of a muddled mess.

It’s not that your colleagues don’t have great intentions. And it’s not that you don’t value their feedback.

The challenge is that you may not be collecting their input at the right time.

When a committee reviews your marketing content, you run the risk of receiving suggestions that dilute the power of your message. You can lose your company’s unique voice. You can end up creating marketing content that’s bland and boring.

Not exactly what you set out to do.

Even worse, you may have to incorporate so many ideas into your marketing content that your messages become unfocused. Keep in mind, you only have a few seconds to win someone’s attention. If you’ve got too much going on, you diminish your chances of engaging your audience.

Consider these tips…

  • Involve your key stakeholders when you develop your brand strategy (before you start your creative work). Your stakeholders could include select executives, employees, customers, etc. Think about anyone who has a stake in your brand.
  • When you’re ready to move into copywriting, select a small group to serve as your review team. I suggest two to four reviewers, but I realize this number will vary, depending on your company. Your reviewers should be well versed in your brand strategy.
  • Clearly outline the expectations of your review team. Do you want them to review your content for technical accuracy? Editorial feel? Something else? Spell our your expectations. Are you going to make everyone’s edits? Or, are you going to considereveryone’s suggestions? Spell that out too, so there are no misunderstandings.
  • Reduce the number of reviewers with each round of review, as in a funnel. This will help you productively manage feedback.
  • For you own sanity, avoid introducing new reviewers late in the review process. This will help you keep your budget and project scope in tact. Plus, you’ll stay more true to your brand strategy and objectives.

Mistake #4: Soliciting input from family members.

Ah, family. Often, they’re the ones we trust the most. It makes perfect sense that you’d want to ask for a loved one’s opinion.

Here’s the thing. Your family members may not represent your target audience. Plus, they may not understand your vision for your company, the challenges facing your customers, or the essence of your brand.

Before you conduct an impromptu focus group with your spouse, siblings, extended cousins, and beloved neighbor, Frank, consider a different approach.

Consider these tips…

  • Trust your gut instincts. If your copywriter has taken you through a professional discovery process and you have a clear sense of your brand, your instincts are a great guide.
  • If you must solicit input, gather feedback from people who reflect your target audience. When you ask for their feedback, explore the impression that they get from your marketing materials. Does your company look, sound and feel the way you intend?
  • If you must involve loved ones, involve them from the very beginning. Include them in your creative discovery process. Ideally, you want them to clearly understand your vision and have a chance to share their ideas upfront. That way, your copywriter and creative team can accommodate their input (as appropriate) and help you stay in scope.

Mistake #5: Believing your marketing will last forever.

No matter how good your copywriting, graphic design, and logo are, there comes a time when even the best marketing elements need to be refreshed.

Consider these tips…

  • Shift your expectations. No matter how good your creative elements are, they have a finite life span. Enjoy them while they last, and plan on making the timely investment to refresh them. You want to stay ahead of the curve, rather than giving the impression that your company is out-of-touch.
  • Think of your marketing materials as your company’s personal styling. We all need to update our wardrobe and hairstyle from time to time! You’re creating marketing content that needs to evolve with changes in consumer behaviors, your company’s offerings, competitors, design trends, technology and more.

So how long do marketing elements typically last?

The time span varies, depending on which element we’re talking about and your business environment.

In general, website content has an 18- to 36-month life span before it needs to go through a major rewrite or redesign. (This excludes frequent changes you’re making to your website, such as posting blog content, event updates, or your social media feeds.)

Until next time!

Ann