As the proud and rather exhausted father of two children under four, I’m well placed to make the following observation: the current state of content marketing is much like parenting - you have to wade through an awful lot of shit to experience the odd moment of joy.I’m talking at the Content and Communities Summit this week and in preparing my presentation, I’ve been looking at the state of content and what it’s doing to advance the quality of our marketing efforts. What I’ve seen hasn’t made me particularly optimistic.
According to the American Marketing Association, marketers are creating 800% more content now than they were 5 years ago. In the same period, the total amount of attention being competed for has increased… erm… not an iota. There’s a finite amount of total consumer attention. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and the last I heard we’re still diurnal creatures.
So the simple conclusion to draw is that a single piece of content has to work 800% harder now than it did 5 years to gain the attention of its intended audience. Which begs the question, why is the marketing community still producing so much shit?
Reframing the conversation
Ask yourself, who pays for the marketing content you produce? Think about it for a second.
In most mature, profitable businesses a marketing budget is based on a proportion of total revenue. Revenue is generated by having customers that pay for your product or service. So quite literally, your current customers pay for your marketing.
In less mature, start-up or early stage businesses, marketing may be funded by an owner, by investment capital or by another source of funds. But that investment is offered with the forecast promise of future revenue in return. So in this case, the cost of your marketing is ultimately covered for by your future customers.
Either way, it’s your customer - past, present or future - that bears the cost of your marketing, and therefore of the content that you produce as part of that marketing. In which case the pertinent question to ask is, do they want their money back?
I believe that at its best, content marketing can entertain, inform, inspire, engage, elevate and aid its audience. But that happens too infrequently and I think that’s because we forget that our marketing needs to be as
defendable to our customer as the product that we’re selling. We become so consumed with defending our marketing to our internal stakeholders - CEO’s CFO’s etc… - that we forget about our most important stakeholder. If what we’re producing is not useful, not valuable, not what they need or not what they want, we are just costing our customers money without giving them anything in return. And that’s a sure route to business failure.
So instead of measuring the success of your content marketing with metrics showcasing what your business is getting out of it, how about instead you set up metrics that show what your customers are getting out of it? Because if you bother to ask them, and you really listen to the response, you might unlock the secret to your content success. Get that right, and business success will follow.
5 steps to customer-centric content:
You can’t create truly customer-centric marketing unless you truly understand your customer. Take the time to talk to them. All the time. They’ll say things to you that they wouldn’t say in a survey. That’s how you get genuine insights that can lead to great, meaningful and valuable content ideas.
2. Hero the customer
Of course the content you produce has to be relevant to your brand. That’s a given. But it doesn’t have to be about your brand. There’s a big difference between bringing your brand’s point of view to life, and talking about your brand. Use your content to remove your brand from the equation and concentrate purely and solely on creating value for your customer.
3. Define the value
That word value gets thrown around a lot and like most things, the more it’s said, the less it means. So don’t just talk about value, talk about the specific value your content is delivering to its audience. Is it solving a problem for them? Is it entertaining them? Is it providing them with food for thought, teaching them something new or giving them a conversation starter? Is it designed to shock, appeal, inspire. What does it do for them AS PEOPLE, not as customers. If the answer is simply “it tells them about our product”, you’re not doing it right.
4. Use expert content creators
There is already too much content out there. And there is WAY too much content being added every day. So how is your content going to noticed? How are you going to make sure your’s doesn’t just add to the noise? By concentrating on quality over quantity. And to create truly quality content, you need to use quality content creators. Just as media organisations have always competed on the strength of their storytellers, brands need to do the same. So find the best people you can to create your storytelling. It makes all the difference.
You’ve had your say, now it’s time to stop, take a breath and let your customers respond to you. Find out if the content you’ve provided is what they want. Sure you can use metrics to do that, but remember that shares don’t necessarily equal engagement (often more people share than actually read/view the content) and that anything other than attention minutes can just be an exercise in vanity. So instead of relying on that, why not go out and ask them. Talk to them. Find out what they really think of it. If it was designed to solve a problem, did it do it? Don’t make assumptions, make conversations.
And ask yourself this… would your customers really be happy to pay for this content? Well, would they?
Design, Marketing & Technology news, Monthly (ish)
Thanks! You've been subscribed.
Oops, there was an error.
It only takes one click to unsubscribe.