Skip to main content

Marketing and The Content Machine in 2016


Today, we cannot have a marketing meeting without talking about content marketing. It has become a silver bullet for all marketing problems. Every brand wants to be a publisher in some shape or form, and the newsroom is the latest shiny object. People don't pay attention to ads. So instead of doing more of the same, we sponsor content that might engage people. It sounds like a smart move, right?
The only problem is that content is an abundant resource. Everyone is doing it;94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing.Unless you are creating something unique, you are just adding to the sea of content. Brands have a better shot to standing out by focusing on originality than by following the pack (e.g., sponsoring articles, whitepapers, how-to guides). It's more interesting and better business.
According to Wikipedia, content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content to acquire and retain customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, videos, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question-and-answer articles, photos, blogs, etc.
I don't have anything against content marketing. I believe that content has a place within the marketing mix. I am just concerned that we are using content as the popular option—the new banner ads—without a clear strategy and the right level of investment, instead of focusing on innovative thinking to build the brand. As a result, all of this content production doesn't seem to be working. According toContent Marketing Institute, only 9% of B2B marketers consider their content marketing efforts to be "very effective."
From an economic perspective, content does deliver a higher attention rate than traditional options such as banner ads. No one clicks on banners, so there is a business case for sponsoring content. That said, to make content marketing work, you need to have a clear focus and do it consistently with good quality and at scale, as you are competing with everyone. In other words, you need to create a content machine as a publishing company (e.g., NYT, People Magazine, The Economist). Some brands such as Red Bull have done it successfully, but this an expensive proposition. You need to have the people, technology, and resources to make it work. And don't expect results in a matter of a few weeks or even a few months. Content marketing takes time.
For instance, a pasta brand might want to consider sponsoring pasta recipes, books, videos, etc. to get attention. If you Google pasta recipes, there are 49 million results and counting. It's going to be hard to get visibility in this sea of content. One option is to try to find a niche within the category, create a content machine, add celebrity power to endorse the content, and pay for visibility in the Google ranks. This option is more effective than traditional banner ads, but still, there is no guarantee it will get you the breakthrough. People are more likely to trust real people's opinions. And you are always competing with everyone.
The other options are originality, "the scarce resource," innovative thinking, and the media. For instance, to get Mondo Pasta on everyone's mind, the company created a bigger-than-life promotion at the most visited place in Hamburg: the harbor, which is the second largest harbor in Europe. Huge stickers with faces on them turned the ships into permanent pasta slurpers. The campaign had an incredible stop effect and soon became the talk of the town.
In summary, today's marketing is a choice between originality and process, scarce and abundant resources, compelling service and following the pack. These options are not mutually exclusive, but strategy is about choices. You can not have it both ways. In an age of disengagement, originality wins.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Aim for Love, Not Likes

Love is an unconditional emotion while like is a more watered-down version of love. Loving someone means that he or she means everything to you while liking someone implies that you are only happy being with that person. Love involves deeper, stronger emotions, while like is more of a tender feeling towards that special someone. In a world of infinite choices, love is everything. Like is a nice to have.  Today, we live in a world of abundance, where people intent to create content surpass their time to consume it. Video content is much easier and cheaper to produce than at any other time in history. YouTube sees 400 hours of video uploaded every minute. Facebook has more than 250,000 status updates in the same span. We could never read and see everything online.  With unlimited possibilities and limited time, we pay sustainable attention to what we love and divided attention to what we like. We spend hours watching Homeland and give our divided attention to our news feed on Facebook. …

Persuasive Simplicity, Persuasive Commerce

In a complex world, simplicity wins. In a human world, purpose sets us apart. In a complex and human world, we need persuasive simplicity to survive. Persuasive simplicity is putting simplicity in the path of motivation. It is simplicity with purpose. The Perfect Machine Today we are entrenched in a performance-marketing race. We want to make commerce as efficient as possible. We want to build the perfect commerce machine—one that knows what we like, hate, love, and need. A precise machine that doesn't spoil us with too many choices.  A nimble machine that delivers goods in hours, not days or weeks. A frictionless machine where we can order in one click, one button, one voice order, anytime, anywhere. A cost-effective machine that guarantees the best price. This machine sounds a lot like Amazon.com, jet.com, hotel.com, Trulia.com and kayak.com. The Human World
These days, we navigate life through search. We search to eat, to learn, to travel, to date, and to find work. We search during the moments that matter on our mobile devices. Search gives us super powers. Search makes us faster and smarter, but it also gives us a taste of our average. Search engines push content based on our consumption behavior or people “like us" behavior. We have gotten trapped in the limitations of algorithmic recommendations. No surprise from discovering something we loved but didn’t expect. We watch the movies that we are supposed to watch. We dine at the restaurants that we are presumed to dine. We shop where we are expected to shop. To escape the tyranny of the average, we follow the few brave souls that are breaking the mold. People willing to defy the norm and become the tastemaker of their destiny. They are the new curators in this age of abundance. We call them influencers. They give us a search result that is imperfect, irrational, unexpected, but m…