We’re back at the office with our new sweaters, cool gadgets, and fading hangovers and our brains are swirling with predictions about what’s to come in 2016. Everyone on the internet is forecasting winners, announcing what you absolutely MUST do to win, which is why we’re going to take a minute to remind you that what you DON’T DO is just as important. If you want your business to succeed you don’t want to waste money or commit these garish errors.

As we look ahead and think about what content marketing trends we’re going to see in 2016, here is our list of stuff you should definitely just not do in the New Year in order to avoid being that guy.

1. Do: Post Tons of Total Garbage

In the Era of Information, we all fall prey to the tendency to populate. We want to populate our blogs, our social media pages, our websites, our Meetups.

We want to have the best content, which we sometimes confuse with having the most content.

You know the feeling of scrolling through your Facebook feed and coming across 50 “Don’t Ever Go to the Gym Again Before Reading This Article” or “Why You Should Never Eat Raw Fish Again” kind of articles that really offer nothing but total crap. It’s surprising that people haven’t stopped reading altogether with the amount of garbage out there – articles founded on complete falsehoods or irrelevant truths. If you have a publishing platform, it’s up to you to give your audience top-notch, totally unique content that stays true to your brand and voice. Think about this every time you’re about to hit publish – the integrity of your brand depends on it.

It’s surprising that people haven’t stopped reading altogether with the amount of garbage out there – articles founded on complete falsehoods or irrelevant truths. If you have a publishing platform, it’s up to you to give your audience top-notch, totally unique content that stays true to your brand and voice. Think about this every time you’re about to hit publish – the integrity of your brand depends on it.

2. Do: The Same Thing You’ve Always Done

If you want to really let your marketing campaigns bomb this year, keep on doing the same things you’ve always done.Sleazy salesman pointing

If you want to succeed, you need to realize that the age of resting on your laurels is long over. Even Buick has been coming out with new, totally different ads and seeming kind of cool. Don’t get left in the dust while the times change around you. This means doing a full-on audit of all your bits and bobs – is your website sharp and fully responsive? How about your mobile presence? Do you have

This means doing a full-on audit of all your bits and bobs – is your website sharp and fully responsive? How about your mobile presence? Do you have online chat for customer service? Is your site pimped out with Google’s Penguin-friendly SEO? (Check out this helpful guide on how to get your copy on track for Penguin.) Figure out what is most important to your customers and, for God’s sake, do it.

3. Do: Keep Everything Out of the Cloud

If you want to really screw things up this year, let your IT department handle everything tech-related independent of the rest of your company. It’s a surefire way to make sure you fall behind and that valuable data has no value to you. Look, your IT guys are the best – they are a fundamental part of your organization.

But it’s time to incorporate the efforts of your marketing team and your tech team in order to create an unbeatable force.

Get your data into the cloud and get the whole company on board in order to make all elements of your company as awesome as they can be – your website, branding, UX, copywriting, design elements, etc. will all be much more unified and appealing the less you compartmentalize them.

4. Do: Keep Flip-Flopping

Nobody likes a flip-flopper, especially not in an election year. Decide exactly who you are and what your brand stands for before you map out your marketing plan for the year and stick to it.

You want to keep up with the trends and adapt your strategy accordingly but your company’s core identity should always remain the same.

Many companies fail to create a brand message and thus let their brand be defined by their audience or consumers – which is the kiss of death in the fickle world we live in. If your company is growing, make sure all of your new employees have a deep understanding of your brand and voice so you can avoid the dreaded flip-flop personality crisis.

5. Do: Totally Underreact

Marketing these days is all about being nimble and pro-active. Stop waiting until the last minute to produce the ads you need, write the content your customers are looking for, and launch time-sensitive ad campaigns.

Get on top of your strategy and stop being reactive when it comes to your brand.

This involves scheduling via editorial calendar tools and also having frequent meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page about what you are prioritizing and how you are defining your brand and your marketing strategy. Make this the year that you get ahead – the tools are out there so take advantage of them. Trello is an awesome content marketing tool. Oz can help you get ahead of the game by brainstorming cool topics. Contently is a rad resource to help you stay abreast of trends and changes in the Content Marketing world. Make a calendar for the year right now. You can always update it as the months pass.

6. Do: Use Tons of Generic Stock Photos

475333525Just don’t. Consumers can spot a cheesy stock photo ten blocks away and it doesn’t do you or your brand any favors to have a slick photo of a well-dressed, multi-cultural group of early thirty-somethings pointing at a document and laughing because their job is so delightful. Get creative! This is the fun part of marketing. You can even take your own photos or have independent designers whip up a quick illustration for you. If you don’t have time or money for that you can use resources like Lobster Media or Creative Market to find more unique and original photos to populate your site and blog with. You don’t have any excuses anymore.

7. Do: Cut Corners on Content

So many companies still consider content marketing an “overhead” cost. Don’t. Spending money to power your office and get to and from work is overhead. Marketing is making sure that people give you money for what you’re doing while you’re in the office. It keeps the money flowing to pay your overhead costs.

Make sure that 2016 is the year that you set aside the kind of budget that marketing deserves – between 5% and 15% depending on your industry and where you are at in the growth of your company.

This means having someone who is in charge of your content, it doesn’t have to be a head of content but it needs to be some kind of defined role at the table – head of publishing, editor, etc. This person must make sure that you have a steady output of regular and entertaining content as well as delightful interactions with customers. Content specialists can make any campaign take off. Set aside a budget and adjust it as the year goes on.

8. Do: Totally Ignore Analytics

Data is intimidating, sure, but ignoring it isn’t helping anyone. You can do as much background research and make as many educated guesses as you want but when it comes to your marketing campaigns nothing is going to pay off like paying attention to the way people are responding to your efforts.

  • How long are readers spending on your landing pages?
  • Who is opening your emails?
  • What are the behavioral differences between the people who click the purchase button and the ones who lurk but don’t cough up any cash?

Your site and your campaigns now come with extensive analytics that can offer you a treasure trove of information. Make sure your sites have Google analytics installed and look into other 3rd-party tools like Hubspot that can help you make more sense of what your customers are doing and leverage your abilities even better.

9. Do: Stay Traditional with Customer Service

Depositphotos_7332569_l-2015Customer service isn’t just about righting the wrongs any longer. The former way of doing customer service was more like having a complaint department where angry customers could go to vent their woes and get a refund. These days you need to deliver a full experience for your customers – from the second they express an interest in what you’re doing until long after they have made their purchase. Loyalty and retention rates are at an all-time high and customers are choosing their purchases based on emotions more than ever before. Customer service should be an element of every single stage of the sales cycle and beyond. You have to build your brand around the idea of what your customers want and need and to delight them every single chance you get. Content personalization and diversification are going to be what sets your brand apart in 2016.

No future exists without history.

As you go into the New Year and map out your content marketing strategy, make sure that you don’t do any of these aforementioned things and you’ll spring into 2016 with confidence and glee – and your customers will love you for it.