Prevent The Flatline Of Nope! 5 Content Marketing Fails From Rand Fishkin


Rand Fishkin, the legendary Wizard of Moz, can always be counted on to deliver one of the best sessions at any conference he attends, and his afternoon keynote at last week’s #MNsummit was no exception. From mustache wax to caveman impersonations to Rand in a Fred Flintstone costume, this presentation was 40 minutes of Randdamn-awesomeness.

“Failure sucks”

No one likes to fail, at least not at content marketing, but according to Rand the vast majority of content marketing efforts do just that. They start with the “spike of hope” carried by good intentions and wide-eyed excitement, but then they crater back to Earth and leave you with the dreaded “flatline of nope.” Without a concerted effort to maintain your campaign’s success, your campaign died. Rand outlines five reasons that led to its untimely demise.

Reason 1:

You believed the biggest content marketing myth ever told

Instead of knowing that content marketing is a long and winding road, you believed it was a direct investment. This is where Rand busted out his caveman impersonation: Me make content, humans click, them buy me get money.


That’s not how great content marketing works, but it is still how too many marketers think it does. Content marketing done the right way gives people something they remember, something that builds trust and relationships. Then, when they need something like wax for Rand’s amazing mustache, they remember your video on how to grow an epic beard and that’s when they become a customer.

Reason 2:

You made content without a community

“Don’t bet your marketing on being the 1 in 1,000.”

The odds that your really good content will spread like wildfire are infinitesimally small if you don’t already have a community in place to share it. To avoid succumbing to the trap of starting a campaign without a community, Rand suggests asking yourself, “Who will support and amplify this content, and why?” before you start creating.

“Content spreads because it inspires a community,” Rand says. People care about things that have meaning in their lives. It’s up to content marketers to find them and tap into those emotions. Sharing content is a way for people to show their affiliation and strengthen their ties with people who hold the same beliefs.

Reason 3:

You invested in content creation, but not in its amplification

“Content must reach people in order to reach its potential.” But how is it going to reach people if you think your job ends with clicking the publish button? It won’t. You have to think about how to promote and push it out. To be effective, amplify in the channels where your audience lives. That will probably mean working in multiple channels, so Rand suggests treating each of them like a muscle that you need to workout regularly to keep it strong and growing.


Reason 4

You ignored content’s most powerful channel

That would be SEO. Searchers are in “do things mode” and want to read, buy or click what they find right now. But in social, people tend to browse and might see 400 links before they find something worth their click. The intent is what separates search and makes it a key factor in successful content marketing.

Reason 5

You gave up way too soon

Overnight success is not sustainable without the fundamentals of great content marketing to support it. That teeny tiny fraction of successful content that works like cavemen think it does and spreads without a community is going to crash back to Earth. Rand sums this up perfectly:

The price of success is failure after failure after failure.*

*Hopefully, each of those failures provides an opportunity to learn.

Rand might be the only person we know who would impersonate a caveman to convey the failures of online marketing, but there’s nothing prehistoric about the fact that he’s right. His keynote kicked off a great afternoon at the MnSearch #mnsummit, a fantastic conference that already has us looking forward to next year.

© Dmytro Tolokonov – Fotolia

© Rob – Fotolia

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Stay Connected