Common content mistakes: your expertise is not the customers problem

A common content marketing mistake – and I have been guilty of this myself, often – is writing about what you do. For example, copywriters are particularly guilty of writing about about how to write better – why on earth?

I suppose the common aim is to demonstrate your knowledge and experience, but it’s bad content marketing – unless you’re a copywriter who markets to other copywriters – because it ignores the commercial imperatives for creating that piece of content in the first place.

Using the copywriting example again… the kind of client I wish to secure – successful, can afford to pay for my services and understands the value of good marketing and compelling copy – is not particularly interested in ‘how to write a good landing page’.

He or she is far too busy focusing on his or her core business, and would rather pay a professional to do a professional job. They do not want to learn how to do your job better or they wouldn’t be looking to hire your services.

So what topics should your content address?

It’s the old ‘hole in the wall’ analogy all over again.

An elderly man walks into a hardware store to buy a power drill because he wants to make a hole. The first thing the salesman asks him is a features based question, for example: “What surface do you wish to drill? Concrete? Wood? Tin? Polymer?”

The proper thing to do would be to ask him why he wants to drill a hole. In which case the salesman may discover that the old gentleman wants to hang a picture frame of his grandchildren on the wall. In other words, a hook and a hammer would do the job.

Ask yourself, what is the real reason for your potential client researching your services or products in the first place? Understanding the real reason is the key to creating content that actually adds some value to your audience.

For example, if somebody is searching for a copywriter to write the content for their website, he or she may be doing so because:

  • They do not have the time to do it themselves (productivity, leverage);
  • They want to increase their online conversions (website usability, opt-in strategies, integrated channel development);
  • They want somebody they can trust to do a good job (case studies and success stories that also communicate good strategies they could potentially apply themselves).

The job of good content marketing is not so much to demonstrate that you know your stuff – then it becomes “still all about you” – but to understand and respond to your customer’s real needs, questions and problems.

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