I Broke the

I have a big regret.

As I was flipping through back issues of our quarterly news magazine, Library Links, I noticed I’d broken the first rule of content marketing in the cover story headline of a recent issue.

Can you spot the boo-boo?


Reaching Out Beyond the Library Walls: How We’re Making a Difference in Your Community.

The answer: It’s the word “we’re.”

It’s self-centered. It’s self-serving. It’s too promotional. “Look at us, we’re the greatest!” Ugh.

Here’s why that’s such a big no-no. Content marketing is the art of communicating with your cardholders without selling. Content Marketing Institute says content marketing is the belief that, by offering valuable content to your audience, you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty.

The first rule of content marketing is “no selling.” And the use of the word “we’re” is too promotional.

The article itself was valuable to our audience. Many of our cardholders are unaware of our work in the community. They have no idea that we offer services to whole segments of the population who have no physical way to get to a library building. We are committed to making sure every single person in our community has equal and full access to our resources.

By telling the story of the staff members who work to make that possible, and the residents who enjoy an increased quality of life because of Outreach Services, we hoped to drive more people to engage with Outreach. We hoped to get more nursing homes, assisted living centers, day cares, and other care facilities to contact the library and request Outreach Services. We hoped to encourage more teachers to sign up for our Educator Card and request collections delivered directly to their schools. All of this drives cardholder signups and circulation, which are our ultimate marketing goals.

But with one word, we may have turned readers off before they even got to the content.

Don’t make the same mistake. The word “we’re” and any derivative of it should be banned from your content marketing materials. Focus your content on the customer and their needs. It’s not about how awesome we think we are. It’s about our cardholders. That’s the first rule of content marketing.

Have you seen a great example of customer-based content marketing? Share it in the comment section!

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Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.