August 10, 2021

7 content marketing pitfalls to avoid

Part III of “How to use content marketing to your advantage”

For the last few months, we’ve discussed content marketing and how it can benefit your overall programs, market presence and sales process. It isn’t just about writing something great; it also needs to be palatable to your audience.

We’ve compiled a list of seven pitfalls we often see in content marketing campaigns; these themes and trends tend to be more detrimental than helpful. Here’s what to avoid in order to make your content marketing program as successful as possible:

  1. Heavy selling.

    Content marketing is a way to discuss topics and issues that your industry and your customers face. Once you start in on a heavy sell, your audience will quickly tune out. Your content should spark a conversation rather than be the conversation.

  2. Heavy branding.

    In order for content marketing to be as effective as possible, your brand should be a side dish, not the main course. For example, spend time discussing an issue without inserting your brand until the very end, or just have the fact that it is on your website be the only indication your brand drove the content.

  3. Focus only on your products and services.

    While it’s OK to occasionally have a piece of content devoted entirely to your products or services, it should not be your content’s bread and butter. Let people find you because you are experts in your industry, rather than because you are experts in your own product. Once they see that you know their struggles and can guide them towards helpful solutions, they’ll reach out to you — not your competitor — when it comes time to get a proposal or sign a purchase order.

  4. Creating content that will expire.

    “Evergreen” content isn’t bound by current events; it’s something that people can discover year after year and still find relevant. Just like solution-oriented pieces of content, it is OK to mix in some content that will age less-well. For example, discussing hurricane season or hurricane preparedness is evergreen, but Hurricane Katrina happened a long time ago, and your customers likely aren’t still searching for information about that single hurricane event; they’re looking for best practices on how to protect their families for the one that is rolling in right now.

  5. Alluding to obscure events.

    When an event turns the tide of a nation for many years, your content can discuss it. We still talk about 9/11 because its effects still linger today in airport security. We’ll talk about the COVID-19 pandemic for many years because of its impacts on nearly every industry. These topics can be considered “evergreen,” but other events might not be. Be sure that any event you wish to discuss will remain relevant to your industry for some time before spending too many hours writing about it.

  6. Discussing politics or other themes that could alienate potential customers.

    Your customers’ politics might not match your own. Spending too much time on biases can alienate part of your customer base. Best practices are not to discuss issues that could be exclusive of any group.

  7. Disparaging competitors or bringing others down.

    Mudslinging is a tricky battle to start. If you’d like to highlight what you think you are doing that is better than your competitors, simply keep it positive, factual and omit any identifying details about the competition.


In case you missed the last two posts:

As we shift towards a new paradigm in the marketing world — using content that works in your favor to drive sales — it’s important that writers understand several factors in order to create relevant content for their audience. The first post in the series is about why knowing your audience is the key to brainstorming topic lists and planning your content.

Tone also differs between a hard sell and thought leadership, and if you start an article with a tone that suggests a future hard sell, readers will be less likely to get through the whole article or blog post. By varying your tone and style, your content will remain refreshing and make your customers more excited to work with you — since you’re the experts. Read more in “Strike a balance with tone and style.”

About the author

Jess Schmidt brings a creative writing degree and over a decade of professional writing experience to the team. As a career marketer with a background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language, technical details and marketing strategy. She writes content for all of the publications under the Great American Media Services umbrella and manages advertiser-driven projects. She’s also the in-house SEO and SEM guru. Learn more about our team here: