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5 surefire ways to fail at content marketing

It’s a good time for bad B2B content: the combination of complex products and easy publishing routes means marketing messages are often weak. Follow these five simple steps if you want to continue churning out crummy content (but do the opposite and you might be on to a winner...)

1. Ignore your audience

A good writer will always have their audience front of mind when producing copy. Whether the content's aimed at senior executives in professional services or managers in finance, subtle tweaks in level of detail or vocabulary make all the difference. Even better writers go so far as to repurpose single pieces of content to reach different audiences. So when asked to produce copy, be sure not to ask who the primary audience is – it’ll only make your content more effective. Instead, adopt a pan-human style which will be guaranteed not to resonate with anyone.

2. Be dreary

You’ll notice that successful companies – both client-side and agency – have one thing in common: a compelling tone of voice. Clearly if content is engaging it’s far more likely to cut through the rising tide of mediocrity. 

To avoid this, cling onto the stereotype the B2B industry is doing so well to shake off – make sure you're content is dull and confusing. It might help to pretend your readers are actual businesses – bricks, mortar, water coolers etc – rather than human beings with human feelings. Refrain from taking a stand or having an opinion; convey indifference towards your subject and your reader will feel indifferent towards you too.

3. Exacerbate your weaknesses 

We’re all susceptible to picking up bad habit; good writers will acknowledge their shortcomings and work tirelessly to iron them out. If you're going for the opposite outcome, get working on those flaws. If you write slowly, for example, leave your writing until the last minute and do minimal planning. Or maybe you like to be a little grandiose? Be sure to add extra difficult words to frustrate your reader. 

4. Use jargon to save time

Engaging content is usually the product of careful deliberation and de-cluttering. Those who produce it understand that 'a multi-agency project catering for holistic diversionary provision to young people for positive action linked to the community safety strategy and the pupil referral unit' really means 'go-carting lessons for excluded children'. Using jargon makes for easy writing and easy writing is usually awful. So cut corners where possible; clarity and simplicity really are the enemies of any bad writer. 

5. Avoid writing all together

It’s hard work producing quality B2B copy, and the only surefire way to get better is to think critically and do it often. But as Homer Simpson once said: “Trying is first step to failure”. So if you don’t want your content to succeed, avoid producing it at all costs.