I’ve partnered with close to a hundred companies in the last decade, and these are some common traps that I see founders run into when they are ramping up their content marketing efforts.
Problem: Hiring an agency or solopreneur that can’t execute quickly
Hiring an agency that spends 2 months or longer on strategy and research. You need a strategy to give you focus and direction. However, focusing too much on strategy before you execute on anything is a red flag and a form of procrastinating. You are losing money.
Instead, work with contractors and agencies who are results-focused. Many agencies, in particular, are great at talking the talk but fall woefully short in execution. For instance, the sign of a great marketing partner is someone who spends no more than a month getting up to speed and creating a MVP strategy and then immediately starts executing. This matters because even the smartest marketing strategy isn’t going to be perfect. The fastest you can start executing, the faster you’ll learn what works. You can use that to refine your strategy and process moving forward.
Micromanaging – I get it as a fellow founder. You want everything to be perfect as it is a reflection of the company you built. However, this slows down the process of what you can do and is demotivating for any marketer you work with.
Instead, find people you trust and be okay with 80%. This is so much easier said than done. However, if you are hiring people for writing or marketing, it is usually because you don’t have time. 80% of what you can do is better than 0% if doesn’t get done.
Problem: Hiring content marketers and writers before you are ready
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. You shouldn’t scale any content marketing until you have product-market fit in a vertical. (Even a tiny one!)
Own the marketing strategy until you have a clear path to PMF. If you want to outsource bits and pieces, that’s fine. However, when you try to hire an agency or contractor to own the growth strategy that early on, you are setting them up for a lot of struggles.
Problem: Hiring a freelance writer when you need a marketer or vice versa
If you are like many early to mid-stage SaaS founders that I talk to, you think you can hire a few freelance writers and maybe an SEO consultant or agency. Then, you inevitably get frustrated when you aren’t getting much traffic, the content isn’t quite right, or it is not converting.
In my experience, you don’t need more freelance writers. You need marketing strategists who can write if you doing less than $10M ARR.
Hint: you can find a unicorn who can market and write, like me 😉.
Problem: Thinking you can create content that converts with only AI tools
Replacing some or all of your content marketing team with AI tools might sound like a great cost-saving measure. However, AI content isn’t a competitive advantage when anyone can do it. Because anyone can use these tools, it is now the lowest barrier entry for “acceptable content.” If you want your brand’s content to have reach and resonance, you need to build trust and connect with your ideal customers. AI tools are designed to spit out “facts” and “informational content.” It is 10x copycat content that lacks context and nuance.
Don’t try to outsource your thinking to AI tools. Remember: the content that converts the best is about your ideas and thinking not just your words. That’s why AI tools work best when they are just one part of your process not the entire process.
Problem: Hiring junior marketing generalists or writers because they are cheaper
Yes, it might cost less than a mid-tier or senior marketing strategist with subject matter expertise but it is going to cost a lot more in the long term in managing, coaching, and editing costs.
Instead, hire the most experienced person or agency you can afford – No matter how many times you’ll hear this advice from me and others. It is hard to fully grasp why until you go the cheap route once or twice.
Problem: Leaning too much on async communication
Keeping everything to text threads in email, project management software, Google docs and Slack is efficient but if that’s your only way of communication, you are missing an opportunity to get more out of everyone you work with.
Try to meet with anyone you work with at least once a month. For instance, I love communicating through Slack and project management software. However, meeting somewhat regularly is not only important for relationship building but it also means you communicate the full context and get in front of potential issues before they snowball.
Problem: Thinking you need to build a media company for your SaaS
Media companies and SaaS companies have very different business models and goals. I should know as someone who works with a lot of SaaS companies and also has this side business that’s a media brand. Trying to take a media company approach to SaaS only works if you have separate KPIs and a large budget (and / or team)
If you are doing less than $10M ARR, you should not market like a media company except in some very rare circumstances. Just don’t do it!
From chatting with clients on a daily basis, these are some of the biggest traps I see founders make.
If you are struggling with anything that I shared above or if you are just looking for advice, I’m happy to help anytime. Let’s chat.