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December 19, 2015

Are Junky Blog Posts Damaging Your Brand?

Sam Lloyd

Article Cliff Notes

Self-promotion is the biggest killer of reader interest.

Say the right thing to the right people, or say nothing at all.

Erase “content mills” from your vocabulary. There’s no such thing as a free lunch!

Does your blog generate value, or is it just noise?

No offense. But consider the facts:

Every year, the Internet is swamped with hundreds of millions of new blog posts. Logic dictates that only a fraction of those posts are going to be relevant—compelling, creative, effective content.

Be honest with yourself. When you stumble onto junky content, it naturally clouds your perception of the business/website you’re checking out.

Is that effect subtle? Sometimes, sure. But it could have been the inches needed for that business to win you over as a customer.

And that’s because our brains are really good at making connections. When you see crap content, your mind immediately goes to work.

Lazy/uninspired/junky content = a lazy/uninspired/junky business.

Lazy/uninspired/junky content = a lazy/uninspired/junky business. In psychology this is called ‘associating,’ and our minds pretty much run wild on association marathons all day long.

If this happens to you, don’t you think it happens to other people too?

Your content should be building your brand, not damaging it. The reality is, your business blog is as much a part of your brand as your logo—or more so.

So how can you tell if your blog posts are junky? Sometimes it’s easy to see other people’s problems, but our own just aren’t visible (due to cognitive bias).

So, I’ve created a litmus test for you and your blog. Ask these 5 questions and uncover whether junky content is damaging your brand.

Question #1: Is the goal of your blog posts self-promotion, or to provide value?

Nothing wrong with a little bit of self-promotion, but let’s be reasonable about it.

Sorry to break it to you, but self-promotion doesn’t work…because now everyone is empowered with Twitter, Facebook, and blogging! You and I both know that most people (and businesses) aren’t hesitating to jump onto the digital podium.

The Internet sometimes feels like an endless sea of “look at me!”

In the right proportions self-promotion is fine, and can even be effective.

But if you do it too much, or you even have your entire business’ blog centered around self-promotion, you’re doing it wrong.

At least 90% of content should be aimed at providing value, while no more than 10% should be aimed at promotion. The problem is, most businesses have that ratio completely backwards.

Here’s the cold, hard truth:

Very few people want to read about you.

Provide value, or your content is junk. End of story.

Really.

Would you still be reading this post if the intro paragraph was all about Klicker and how awesome we are, both as human beings and as a company?

No.

But all of us love reading content that helps Number 1…AKA, ourselves.

Provide value, or your content is junk. End of story.

Question #2: Is the goal of your blog posts to satisfy a checklist?

It’s not 2010 anymore. 99% of CMOs have heard that blog posting is important for a company’s marketing efforts.

So what do they do? Put it on the checklist and get it done, that’s what!

But there’s a catch. Now you’ve triggered a potential avalanche of uninspired (and uninspiring) content written up by bored employees looking to cross off their to-dos for the day.

They know you’re too busy to check it out, or they genuinely don’t know what great content looks like.

There’s no way you’ll ever produce remarkable content with a lackadaisical attitude. The reality is uninspiring, worthless, uninteresting, junk content.

You have to really, really care about providing value, not just ‘putting up new content’ every Monday morning (that sucks).

Question #3: Are you talking to the right people?

Who are your customers? Why would they read your blog? What are they looking for? What do they care about most that you can help them out with?

And….they’re out.

An unfocused message isn’t going to target the people who matter most—potential customers.

Let me illustrate why:

A trucking company using content to attract drivers for hire will have a very different voice than a high-end investment firm attempting to attract millionaire investors.

It’s not rocket science, I know. So why do most business blogs clearly have it wrong?

When you sit down to write a post, you need to take a second and visualize exactly who you’re talking to.

Who is this person? What’s important to them? What do they need to understand (that they don’t already know)? What would they find entertaining and funny?

Are you talking to the right people and speaking their language? Don’t create junk! Craft laser-focused content to target the people that matter most to your business.

Question #4: Are you talking to the right people about the right things?

Okay. You found your audience. But are you talking about the right things? Are you creating content around subjects, issues, and problems that matter the most to your audience?

Truckers don’t want to read high-brow humor about index funds. Investment bankers don’t want a list of the best diners near I-95.

With every piece you produce, put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

With every piece you produce, put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

If you were them, would you want to pass that content along to your colleagues or friends? If it solves your problem perfectly or answers your question thoroughly, why wouldn’t you?

If yes, you’re winning (or about to). If not, it’s junky content that’s doing damage to your brand.

Question #5: Do your blog posts line up with the overall message of your company?

When prospects read your posts, you’re grabbing crucial real estate in their mind.

Every piece of content you publish has the potential to influence your prospects. When prospects read your posts, you’re grabbing crucial real estate in their mind.

Taking up just a sliver of a person’s thought space is what makes a brand worth money. These days, effective content is one of the best ways to get that always-shrinking slice of the pie.

But there’s problem. Junky content has the exact opposite effect—and once a prospect has cut you from their “tribe,” you’re out of sight, out of mind.

Your content needs to perfectly align with your company’s overall message, philosophies, and outlook. If it doesn’t, the disjointed message will turn customers off and away forever.

No more junk! Start creating remarkable content right now!

I have a confession to make:

This has been one giant sales pitch for content that doesn’t suck. A plea. A war cry for compelling content that builds your brand, instead of damaging it.

I’m just going to be honest here…remarkable content is the ticket to:

  1. Attracting more traffic,
  2. Generating more leads,
  3. Closing more sales,
  4. And, delighting more customers with a complete overload of value.

In short, the opposite of junky content is a profitable business.

So ditch the content mills, sales-pitches-disguised-as-blogs, the dreaded…

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