I'd been blogging for a client in the home remodeling industry for several months when one day I noticed something strange. (Bear in mind that I don't usually visit client websites to check out my own writing; I already know what I did, and I don't feel a compulsion to see my every word "up in lights.") On this particular occasion, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was up, since the client hadn't voiced approval or even acknowledged receipt of the articles. So I went to the site, and sure enough, he hadn't posted what was supposed to be the previous two month's worth of material. Nor had he substituted anything of his own -- the blog had simply gone untouched the whole time.
Any good writer's gut will sink a bit at such a revelation. Were the articles inferior or unacceptable for some reason? If so, why wouldn't the client let me know so I could make fixes? Had I done something to blow the gig entirely? I knew these thoughts would nag at me until I got to the bottom of the situation.
So I asked the client what was going on, and he replied that things had been really busy lately and he'd let the whole blog thing slip his mind.
Well, there's not much I can do about that. I can take most of the pain out of the blog-writing process, but I can't make the client use the materials I supply. In this case, there was even a virtual assistant standing by to post the articles; the client had just never bothered to open them and read them, much less forward them to the assistant.
You hear the phrase "The fortune is in the followup" all the time in the world of sales and marketing. Usually, it refers to the need to keep pursuing your prospective buyers through multiple touches to snag a sale. But I'd say that it applies equally well to making full use of blog articles and other written content. There's no point in writing this stuff -- or paying someone else to write it -- if you don't put it work to work for you.
You might be surprised at how often this sort of lapse occurs. I remember once being hired to write a big pile of marketing content for one client, who then proceeded to forget that he'd ever hired (and paid!) me. On another occasion, I asked a local client whether the onesheet I'd written for him the previous year had been useful in drumming up new business for him.
Him: No, it didn't really help my marketing, actually.
Me: Wow, sorry to hear that. Do we need to make some revisions to it?
Him: Oh no, the content is fine. I just never printed it up and handed it out.
Again -- nothing I can do about that.
Before you decide that your marketing content isn't working for you, ask yourself whether you've given it a chance to do that work. Are you promoting your website via social media? Do your blog articles get posted regularly and frequently enough to build a readership that could turn into a clientele? Are you putting your print marketing collateral into enough people's hands? You may discover that your content really does work after all -- but only if you work it!