content marketing

The No. 1 Content Marketing Mistake Startups Make

There is a lot to learn when it comes to content marketing. It can be overwhelming for startup founders who are looking for information on how to implement content marketing and use it to grow their business.

In the past, I’ve written on a lot of strategies, tactics and metrics that should go into your content marketing efforts. Today, I’m going to focus on a different topic: content marketing mistakes.

In their search for information, many entrepreneurs get the wrong ideas about how to execute a content marketing strategy and they often end up making mistakes along the way. Most times, these aren’t huge mistakes, as they can be corrected and overcome, but they do often create barriers.

In particular, I want to touch on one common mistake that many startups make, especially when they are first learning how to effectively implement content marketing strategies: they try to create content that’s one-size-fits all.



The tough truth about content marketing, and what makes strategy such an important component, is that content is not universal. Simply publishing something on your website won’t generate results.

You need to understand two key things about every piece that you create:

  1. Audience
  2. Channel

Then, customize that content to create value for specific people in specific places.

Customize your content to the audience

Most people probably know that content marketing is about understanding your audience. But it’s also about understanding your different audiences.

If you’re a B2B SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) startup, you may know your audience generally, but what you really need to know is how to segment that audience into specific groups or personas.

In this example, your audience may include a few different core types of people:

  1. Small business owners and CEOs
  2. Marketing managers
  3. Chief marketing officers

Each of these has a unique set of needs, wants, goals and motivations. As such, different content will appeal to each. Here’s where your content marketing can be really effective.

Define your target audiences on the persona level and then speak specifically to those people in your content. Speak to their problems, answer their questions and pique their interest.

Customize your content to the channel

Moving beyond just tailoring your content to your specific audience, you can also customize it to reach those audiences through different channels.

This is one of the most underutilized tactics in all of content marketing.

Your blog posts are not books, as they can change and adapt to entice the needs of different audiences and channels.

We often have this strange notion that anything we publish on our blog needs to be promoted through every available channel. It goes out in an email, gets shared on social media and (hopefully) ranks in search. But, in reality, content should be created and segmented for a specific channel.

Think of it this way: Buzzfeed is great at creating viral content. That’s because they’ve spent time testing, experimenting and learning how to engineer content that is specifically targeted at generating social engagement, clicks and shares through social media.

But their content is not built for every channel. “13 Owls that Look Just Like Harry Potter” may go gangbusters among millennials on Facebook, but it’s not going to perform very well from an SEO standpoint. (Who’s searching for “owls that look like Harry Potter,” after all?)

In practical terms, you can customize your content for channels by either creating content specifically engineered for that channel (e.g., photos on Instagram, posts for Medium, articles for Facebook, etc) or by customizing your existing content for distribution/promotion through those channels. For example, customize the image and headline of your article on Facebook to be more attention-grabbing in the newsfeed while tweaking it to seem more personal through email.

Connecting this kind of customization with customization for each audience means you’ll be able to grab the attention of the right people in the right places.



Content customization as a strategy

Not all content is created equal, and it shouldn’t be. Part of your content marketing strategy should be to identify your individual audiences and channels you’ll be using.

Start your content planning process by thinking about how you will use that content, what value it will create and for whom. Then create the content with those goals in mind.

Avoid the mistake of thinking that all of your content can accomplish every goal and you’ll be lightyears ahead of many other startups.

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