Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Content Marketing Heroes & Zeroes: Which Are You?
Here is the current marketing reality: Disruptive (yet relevant) content generates leads and sales. Fluff gets punished! It wastes marketing dollars, sinks organizations and even companies.
Interesting! If I can use just a single word to describe a successful content marketing effort, it would be "interesting." If I could add another word, it would be "disruptive".
Interesting content generates sales and has a hugely positive effect on brands. Here is why:
1. People that come across that content and find it interesting and relevant usually take an action (if that is the intended outcome). It may be a buying action (read leads and $$$) or something else.
2. Viewers that find your content intriguing enough to share with others, may do so by using social and community channels. This will bring more qualified visitors, leads and sales.
3. Social media sharing also generates positive signals for search engines. People may link to the pages with interesting content. Positive social response, links and other signals (like Google finding the content relevant for ranking against target high value key phrases), may catapult your content to page 1 of organic search results, generating significant amount of interest, leads and sales -- today, tomorrow and for a long time to come -- without requiring additional investments or efforts.
Boring! Boring content and fluff have the opposite effect on marketing teams and companies.
1. Boring content is created. Social feeds are written. Collateral materials are generated. Everything seems to be working well. Except all these activities generate almost no leads. Marketing budgets get wasted.
2. Boring content doesn't get readers. People don't share, link or discuss such content. Search engines largely ignore the pages with boring content. Industry communities laugh at that content. Brands get tarnished and ridiculed by the very people they are trying to influence and engage.
3. Organic search lead generation channel becomes completely dead, because the product is nowhere to be found in organic search results for valuable keywords.
With no high quality leads coming from social, community, organic search and referral channels, companies with fluff content and ineffective content marketing teams are forced to look for alternative lead generation sources that are much more expensive and ineffective, like cold calling. This can cause both the marketing organization and later the product/company to fail.
Google on "boring". Matt Cutts, Google's spam tzar, recently stated that,
"there’s a little bit of reinforcement that helps force you to either be interesting or say interesting things or think hard about how to make something compelling."
Yet, most of content on web sites, blogs and vendor-posted social media outlets is generic and extremely boring.
Here is an example from Symantec's SMB site: "We understand that you want solutions to work, no matter what. We take pride in providing our industry-leading technology to small and medium businesses in a way that’s powerful enough to protect an enterprise-sized company, yet designed for smaller companies."
Here is another example -- this one is from Cisco's web site: "These solutions can help you get the full value of your investment in network architecture and technologies to support today's businesses, and provide the framework to rapidly evolve over time to meet customers' changing needs."
Both statements say nothing, yet can be applied to thousands of products.
Skill Set. So where is the disconnect? It's in the skill gap between yesterday's content producers (MarComm) that generate boring and fluffy materials and today's content needs -- fresh, unique and to the point.
It is also in lack of understanding of the importance and the potential of lead generation using content marketing by marketing and other executives.
More on the skills necessary for a successful marketing content strategy in my next blog entry.