Winning content marketing strategies begin by explaining why customer’s problems are worth solving, not by pitching them products and services.

Bad content marketing prevents many businesses from engaging with their target audience in ways that help grow their business.

Without effectively communicating the value your business offers, customers who engage with your content leave confused and write off your businesses solutions to their problems.

You probably already know that bad marketing doesn’t emotionally resonate with customers. That’s easy to understand, but it can be harder to understand why your marketing messages don’t resonate with customers and exactly how customers feel.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to spot bad content marketing without stepping directly into your customers’ shoes.

If there’s a theme in bad marketing, it’s a simple one:

Companies with bad marketing talk too much about their solution and not enough about their customer’s problems.

I see this problem frequently among startups.

Startup founders often fall in love with their business ideas and believe these ideas and solutions will solve peoples' problems so definitively that they forget to explain the problems they solve and why they are important.

It’s easy to like your own ideas, but business owners must remember if your solutions are innovative that means most people haven’t seen them before and you must explain why your solutions are valuable to customers.

There’s an easy way to do this:

Don’t focus your content marketing on explaining and pitching your product.

Instead, pitch the problem you solve as meaningful and worth solving.

For example, the problem I solve is that businesses need to grow, but incur huge business risks and lose substantial growth opportunities when they market their business without a robust and structured marketing process.

This leads me to have two types of conversations with my target audience of business owners.

One type of conversation focuses on the pains business owners feel when these business risks turn into business realities and the other conversation focuses on the pains businesses experience when owners try to sustain their businesses growth and fight off competition.

Each conversation focuses on understanding my target audience’s problems and why they feel they should make decisions around potential solutions.

By understanding the context around my customer’s problems, I get a better understanding of what sort of solutions and marketing messages convey value in the contexts that matter to them.

How we solve our customer's problems is only important after customers believe these problems are worth solving.

If the problem your content marketing focuses on resonates with your target audience, they’ll happily consider your solutions.

If your target audience doesn’t resonate with these problems, you’ve found out something valuable:

  • customers don’t see the problem the way you do
  • you’re talking to the wrong audience

or

  • the problem your business is targeting may not be painful enough to be worth solving

These answers are worth receiving as early as possible to ensure your business is successful, even if it means giving up on your original idea.

Warning signs your marketing isn’t focused on your customer’s problems:

How do you know if your company's content marketing is going astray?

There are a number of topics startups cling to that don't connect with customers.

Here’s what to avoid to ensure your businesses content marketing doesn't alienate your target audience of customers with content that doesn't get results.

Promoting Product Innovation

Innovation is great. It means your business has new solutions that might change the world and make millions in the process.

But innovation rarely communicates value to customers.

Innovation often communicates value outside the contexts customers use when they decide whether to buy.

A business’s innovation and improvement of existing solutions doesn’t persuade customers to buy when that innovation doesn't communicate its value to customers.

People want to know why they need your product or service. To convince them, businesses content marketing must accurately label the problem customers experience in words they might use themselves.

Once customers emotionally resonate with the business's problem statement, they can be pitched a solution that fits in contexts that matter to them.

Here’s how Apple communicates the value of innovation to customers:

Promoting Product and Industry Awards

Product awards are another example where the opinion of people who don’t buy your products is given more weight in marketing than those who do.

Industry experts think about business solutions and give product awards using different contexts than your customers.

Too often businesses promote recommendations from industry experts whom their target audience is unfamiliar with and have an entirely separate criteria they judge their product by.

Product awards offer short-term wins that boost sales, but they misalign your business interests with your customers, hurting your business's brand and long-term growth in the process.

When you don’t have customers quotes and product reviews, awards from industry experts offer meaningful value.

But that means you don’t have customers who like your product enough to recommend it!

That’s a red flag.

The best way you align your business with long-term success is by providing customer satisfaction.

Rule of thumb: If you have good customer reviews, promote them instead of expert opinions, your business will thank you.