You have heard the question asked before- If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound? When I was a young boy, I always paused whenever I heard this question to give it some thought. As an adult, I understand the difference between sound being produced and the act of listening (i.e., processing sound stimuli and interpreting meaning). As a marketer, I know that a variation of this question plays out daily. Businesses desiring to communicate with their target markets utilize various tools to inform, persuade, and remind. Unfortunately, many of these efforts are like a tree falling in a forest with no one around except that there are people around- they just choose not to listen.
Content Marketing’s Attention Deficit
Marketers understand that some communication tactics will not only fall short of achieving desired audience response, but in many cases they will be flat out ignored. Just how prevalent is the latter outcome in content marketing? According to Brian Hansford of Heinz Marketing, it is estimated that 60-70% of all B2B marketing content goes unused, like trees falling in a vacant forest. Given that content marketing has been hailed by many observers as not only the next big thing in marketing but the future of marketing (particularly in the B2B space), the high rate of ignored content is sobering.
Content: Make it Relevant and Make it Often
Before you abandon plans to establish or enhance your content marketing presence, Hansford offers two pieces of advice that if followed can help maintain content marketing’s contribution as a source of utility to customers, leads, and prospects:
- Think Strategically – Hansford implores content marketers to have a clearly defined target audience in mind for content. That audience can be more granular than the descriptive characteristics that comprise your target market . Also, think strategically about the outcomes to achieve in terms of audience impact- what should they do as a result of being exposed to your content? Remember that creating and disseminating content is a means, not an end.
- Be a Content Factory – This point may seem contradictory to the previous statement about content not being and end-game activity. Hansford’s point is that creating content is not a one-off project. Marketers must adopt a content creator’s mindset. We are now creators and publishers as much as we are sellers. Making content creation a priority means that you are less likely to treat content marketing as a “flavor of the month” tactic and will be challenged to think systematically about creating content that helps your audience while advancing business interests.
Be Different but be Relevant
Let’s face it- every piece of content we create will not become an Internet sensation. That is OK, because that is not usually the goal a business has for engaging in content marketing. However, we want to do everything possible to not become part of the statistic of unused content. Of course, being different can help you stand out, but being different by itself does not assure success. Ultimately, content must be relevant to the audience for which it is intended- it educates, informs, or even entertains- but it is relevant in some way. The remedy for minimizing the likelihood of creating ignored content is to put yourself in customers’ shoes- Who are they? What are their problems or concerns? What do they need to know to make a decision? Relevant content is less likely to be ignored content.