Part 2: Traditional marketing aimed at selling a product. That no longer works. Today, content marketing sells the idea of a product.
Until about a decade ago, the toolbox for marketeers was pretty small. Mass media offered the opportunity to reach millions of people but only via ads buried in the middle of a lot of other stuff, and other tactics such as trade shows offered high engagement but really low reach.
Today digital technology and social media offer the best of all worlds: businesses can reach millions of people with high engagement. Yet 40% of marketeers report that their content marketing programs are not effective.
Here are a few tips old school marketeers might want to consider in order to improve.
the elephant in the room: your content S*cks
In a previous post, I described why it’s important to shift mindsets and semantics from ‘content’ to 'value storytelling'. Here I’d like to go one step further: while digital technology has given marketeers enormous opportunities to publish and produce, I suggest that marketeers today (really) need to think more like publishers.
And publishing is very, very different from marketing.
See, you really need to stop approaching content like marketeers. Seriously. Content is not a longer ad. Don’t research content that you think may have a particular connection with your customers, post it and expect that your audience will make a connection between that content and your brand’s / product values and call it a day. Your metrics are not going to nudge a bit. That’s because you think about content as a strategy more than a meaningful way to exchange value: your approach is more a ploy than a craft. That’s why you’ll fail at content.
Optimize for value and lasting relationships, not metrics
Speaking of metrics, yes, you want to build accountability in your process so you think that awareness, sales and advocacy metrics are going to get you a great ROI if your numbers are high. In fact, you’re confusing measurement with meaning: page views, video views, length of viewing, social media shares, and on and on will not tell you whether you have communicated a clear promise and are delivering on it.
To make my point, think about clickbaits: they’re being banned today because yes they drive traffic to a site and generate data that suggests you’re getting results, but in the end, if your content is sh*t, you’re betraying your audience’s trust and they’ll see your brand/product as dishonest and not trustworthy, abandon you and never return.
It takes a lot of time to produce anything good enough to make an impact. Think about awareness, thought leadership and advocacy. Like successful publishers, thrive to build an on-going relationship with your audience.
That means holding your audience’s attention, not just grabbing it. To get people to subscribe to a blog, YouTube channel, Facebook or Twitter feed, you need to offer a true value exchange. So you need to think seriously about the product experience you want to create. Your success will not come from putting a clever spin on features, but rather by writing powerful stories and telling them well.
Publishing is a product, not a campaign
Old school marketeers are addicted to “campaigns” - from promoting a product to driving sales, they’re doing all sorts of “email campaigns”, “Facebook micro targeted campaigns”, “press release campaigns”, etc. So quick and so easy to do.
Now, in today’s speed-of-light digital environment there are quite a few caveats to that approach, one of them being that every action related to a campaign can be tracked by competitors, allowing them to grab and retarget any potential customer with a purchase intent. In the end, you simply are providing your rivals with a free lead generation service.
Instead, marketeers today need to treat content as a product, not a promotion. This means clearly defining an editorial mission, identifying benchmarks and establishing a clear structure. It is more akin to product development, it takes more time, but you’ll build an audience and establish an ongoing relationship.
Creating a true value exchange
It used to be that awareness could drive sales. Oh the good old days. Not anymore. As I said before, today, brand/product awareness is less likely to result in a trip to the store and more likely to lead to searching behavior online, where your competitors can retarget your customers.
That’s why it has become so important to build a value relationship with your customers. Storytelling and publishing is a great way to build unique bonds, but there has to be a true value exchange rather than a clumsy attempt at promotion. Gimmicks won’t work. You need to build trust and credibility through content that makes an impact because it informs, excites and inspires.
Most of all, you need to lead. Successful products (and brands) are built by driving trends, not following them. Leaders do not seek to merely join the conversation, but to lead it. That is the reality of marketing today: If you expect people to buy from you, it’s best to have something meaningful to say.
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love: fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
Many Career Hats. thinker, doer, designer, coder, leader.
Head of Product Magic at Sikka Software.
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