Has Content Marketing Become a Monster?

March 12, 2017 | Published by | Leave your thoughts

3 Reasons to Be Afraid. Very Afraid.

I have been reading a ton of material lately on marketing online, especially on the topic of “content marketing.” And, after poring through blog-post-after-blog-post and being dazzled (or dazed) by infographics trying to sort out this recent phenomenon, I have come to an epiphany. Sort of.

We have created a monster.

Why would I say this? Many people with the title of “content marketer” or “content strategist” come from corporate environments, and not many work with small businesses. Sometimes we marketing professionals create an echo-chamber. (I think title lends the role of “blogger” a more established caché, as well as a good reason to spend hours on Facebook or Twitter.)

Of course, on the one hand, the challenge of executing a solid marketing strategy is much, much more than blogging or posting to social media. Or even analyzing the data. Way more.

On the other hand, we may have gotten a bit carried away in our enthusiasm.

So here are 3 reasons I think we have a monster on the loose:

  1. I work with entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized businesses mostly. And many of my clients have heard about content marketing (or inbound marketing, or online marketing, or whatever-marketing) and know that this stuff is all the rage. But most of them hear “blog” or “social” and they cringe, knowing what a time-suck that can be, taking away from their core business. They also get confused by all the hype surrounding SEO/SEM and “marketing platforms” or “sales funnels.” (Yadda yadda yadda.) Who wouldn’t? Most don’t know how to measure effectiveness of these things, or what we marketers call the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). But they know they want it all. They think they need it.

And, they are often kind of anxious about it too. Maybe even a little afraid.

  1. My God, the amount of information businesses need to sort through these days! The sheer amount of “content” in circulation that doesn’t provide any real value is mind-blowing. It is information-overload for the sake of boosting traffic with the hope of potential customer engagement. It’s noise.

I mean, when there are articles about using “bots” to write material and curate content, there is a problem. Are we so un-creative these days, or are we so overwhelmed by the need to constantly produce, that we are settling for the un-human expedient of our technology? Where is the art in that? Where is the human in that?

  1. The commoditization of the graphic design profession continues (cue the sad trombones). While I very much applaud the recognition that creating visuals, infographics, animations and videos are the key to getting good results from our marketing programs, way too many marketers are settling for cheaply-produced and not very well-thought-out junk. I mean, I spent a gazillion bucks at Art Center to hone my craft. I am a professional! Don’t ask me to produce a masterpiece of design for five bucks at Fiverr. Or use an infographic generator website to make a more colorful boring presentation of non-information. Or call an illustration an infographic just because it trends better on Twitter. There is a difference!

How do we tame the monster?

  • If you’re a marketer, start by treating your customers like people, not web stats. ­If they are your client, they have a story worth listening to. Listen.
  • Empathize with your audience, and customize your content to meet their true needs – not just create a perceived need for your product or service by hyping it up or using unethical manipulative tactics.
  • Don’t overwhelm them with stats or buzzwords they don’t really understand. Take the time to explain the ones they’ve no doubt heard and are confused by.
  • Be realistic and don’t over-hype your results or the next new fad. (Hint: They’re not really new anyway.)
  • Fight the trend toward commoditization of content. Hire real designers and writers. Pay them well. You will get much more return for your investment in the long-run.
  • Be creative. Make an interesting and fresh contribution to the dialogue. ­ You will help make the world a better place by being yourself, and bringing your unique perspective.

Let’s talk about the monsters in our closet!

I would be interested in hearing your perspectives. Especially those of you who are deeply involved in creating and managing content marketing programs in your businesses.

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This post was written by jcwretlind

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