Jan 04, 2016

10 Habits Every Content Marketer Needs to Break in 2016

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Today is the day – the day that many of us are sitting down at our desks for the first time in 2016.

In both our professional and personal lives, the new year offers a fresh start, a time to take stock and identify opportunities for improvement.

Of course, that also means it’s time for the inescapable tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. It’s time to promise to exercise more, put down our phones more, and focus more on our families.

Although I know that all of these are important resolutions to make, I find the urge to do more and more and more absolutely paralyzing.

That’s why I’ve decided 2016 is the year I’m not making resolutions of things I need to start doing.

Instead, I’m making “un-resolutions” — promises to eliminate habits that hold me back.

If you want to join me in this, I’ve compiled the following list of 10 behaviors content marketers should resolve to stop in 2016. For good measure, I’ve also included resources that will help you with the un-resolution of your choice.

1. STOP serving only your brand.

I know: Every piece of brand content — whether it’s rooted in PR, advertising, or content marketing — is created to ultimately benefit the brand. However, the content that goes viral or – even better – has long-term success earns those triumphs because it isn’t self-serving.

That means thinking about your audience first and planning content that answers their needs. That also means providing content that educates, entertains, or both.

It may be a hard truth to swallow (and even harder to sell to company leaders who are used to the old way); however, it’s what today’s customers value.

Read The Buyer 2.0 Content Strategy Checklist to get started with this un-resolution.

2. STOP marketing without a plan.

Although it’s important to quickly make adjustments when needed, your overall marketing approach needs to be proactive, not reactive.

Today’s content marketers don’t have the luxury of flying by the seat of their pants. If you’ve been operating without a content plan, stop.

Document your content strategy and how your marketing channels fit within it. Then create an editorial calendar that will keep those channels on track throughout the year ahead.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your 2016 Editorial Calendar to get started with this un-resolution.

3. STOP guessing who your audience is.

At one time or another, we all fall into the trap of viewing our audiences in oversimplified terms. For instance, there are many different subsets of “consumers,” “B2B decision makers,” and “the media” you need to consider when honing your content creation and promotion.

Take the time to revisit your brand’s buyer personas and remove the guesswork from your marketing.

Read 9 Audience Segments to Target for Content Marketing Success to get started with this un-resolution.

4. STOP ignoring data.

Marketing reports are much more than a pretty thing to show off to the C-Suite.

Deciphering this data is essential to making smart decisions. Analytics can help you optimize individual content pieces and overall communications programs, fine-tune budgets, and increase revenue. Make sure your 2016 strategy includes regular analysis of your marketing’s output, outtakes, and outcomes.

Read Attribution Modeling’s Pivotal Role in Your Marketing Mix to get started with this un-resolution.

5. STOP boring your audience.

You can’t risk producing “so-so” content. That’s the type of content flooding your audience’s inboxes and newsfeeds each day. Rise above the din by only producing content that excites.

If you have to pick between content quantity or quality, pick quality.

Get visual and interactive, diversify the voices contributing to your content, tell stories. Offer variety not just in narrative, but also format. Turn expectations on their heads.

Read 77 Types of Content to Feed Your Audience to get started with this un-resolution.

6. STOP holding your content back.

Even amazing content can get lost in the clutter. Don’t limit the reach of your message to your owned and social channels. This is the year to determine which multichannel mix of paid, earned, and owned platforms will work best for you.

Read Promoting Your Content Marketing: Time to Orchestrate the Concert of Paid Media to get started with this un-resolution.

7. STOP “setting and forgetting” your strategy.

So you have your plan for the year in place. You know who your audience is, how much revenue you have to bring in, and when you’re promoting certain content.

That’s great! However, only part of the work is done. Goals change. Your audience’s needs change. Technology and tools change.

Enlist the help of a monitoring tool to stay informed on what’s happening with your content, your customers, your competitors, and your industry, as well as the influencers driving all of this change. Then check in with your plan regularly and adjust as needed.

Read Identifying Opportunities & Issues: Keys to Monitoring Traditional & Social Media to get started with this un-resolution.

8. STOP playing it safe.

If you thought “Web 2.0” transformed marketing, it’s nothing compared to the impact mobile, the Internet of Things, and wearables are making.

Virtual reality and smart devices are no longer the future. They’re the present. It’s time to get excited about these changes and figure out how your marketing fits into your audience’s increasingly connected world.

Read The Future of Content Marketing: Creating Contextual Connections to get started with this un-resolution.

9. STOP half-hearted attempts at influencer relations.

With all of the talk about paid, search, and social, you may be tempted to let earned media slip down your priority list.

However, multiple reports demonstrate that buyers trust third-party content more than owned media.

To earn that coveted third-party coverage, you need to invest your time into building solid relationships with journalists, bloggers, and other influencers.

Read Five Keys to Crafting Press Releases that Drive Earned Media to get started with this un-resolution.

10. STOP turning down opportunities to learn.  

To accomplish all of these “un-resolutions,” you have to make time to expand your knowledge and develop new skills.

Fortunately, thanks to virtual learning programs, many universities have made it easier to formally pursue continuing education. Even if going back to school isn’t on your 2016 to-do list, look for conferences, local speaker events, webinars, and Twitter chats that will help you stay ahead of industry best practices.

Although you’re busy, you have to stop telling yourself you’re going to listen to that webinar later. The deadlines are never going to end, and “later” will never come. Set aside time to do it now.

Read 5 Must-Watch Webinars to Revitalize Your PR and Marketing to get started with this un-resolution.

Regardless of whether or not your last year was a successful one, 2015 is officially in the rearview mirror.

I hope you’re as excited as I am to continue developing both your organization’s and your personal brands in the year ahead!

Author Amanda Hicken is PR Newswire’s senior manager of strategic content and managing editor of Beyond PR. Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken for tweets about the media, marketing, Cleveland, and comic books.

1 Comments on Blog Post Title


­ Shashank 00:06 EST on Jan 6, 2016

This one is my personal favorite as it speaks to me. Not to forget strategy and playing it safe…:) good post. Keep it coming


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