A recent post on the MediaPsssst blog laments that “content marketing has turned the landscape of advertising into a pile of crap.” Don’t hold back- tell us how you really feel. Oh wait, I think the title of the post makes crystal clear the view that content marketing is not a friend of advertising. The main point made is that the belief that content gets through to a target audience in ways that advertising cannot has created a glut of marketing content, much of it mediocre. Point taken- but tell us something that we do not know already.
Crap Content Joins the Club
The problem with the contention that most work done in the name of content marketing is crap is not that it is incorrect. The problem is that it states the obvious. The proliferation of content marketing is not the first time marketers have had to deal with crap. Examples can be held up of crap social media marketing, crap mobile marketing, crap email marketing, and yes, crap advertising. If a marketing channel has been used, it is likely to contain some crap in it. We must acknowledge that there are good and bad practices exhibited across marketing channels. Should we expect that characteristic to suddenly change with the evolution of content marketing?
Changing Content from Marketing Crap to Fertilizer
We need not settle for mediocre content, further polluting the marketing landscape. Three points to keep in mind for making content more valuable are:
- Content marketing is not new– Content marketing is in vogue today, but it is not a new concept. We have been attempting to communicate useful information to customers and prospects for years. What has changed is how information is packaged and distributed. The temptation that marketers face is the lure of the packaging and distribution formats (e.g., videos, e-books, and social media). Keep the focus on where it should always be- How can you add value for customers and prospects through our communication with them?
- Be customer-serving, not self-serving– One reason many marketing channels become littered with crap is that the focus of the content shifts from the needs of the customer to the desires of the marketer. Should marketing communication be used for brand building? Absolutely, but if you want your message to resonate however it is sent it must contain the question that is always on the recipient’s mind: What’s in it for me? An e-book’s utility for someone interested in learning more about your product (customer-serving) may be negated by the six fields of information you require them to complete in order to get the content (self-serving).
- Connect content with strategy– A main contributor to a polluted landscape in any channel is the absence of a clear strategy for being there in the first place. History has a way of repeating itself-companies rushed to build websites circa 2000. Ten years later, they do the same thing with Facebook and Twitter. Yet in both instances the “strategy” was to have a presence. That is not a strategy. Determine the information needs of people given where they are in the sales funnel and create content that serves them where they are in their relationship with your brand.
The More Things Change…
The primary point made in the Media Psssst blog post is valid; content marketing is the latest channel in which too much bad practice appears. Yes, some marketing content is awful, but we cannot walk away from the channel for that reason. Do not become enamored with the tools of content marketing to the point that you forget the purpose of creating and distributing content: to help your target market.