There is a GREAT deck on Slideshare right now. It’s called “Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge” by Velocity Partners. I love this deck for many reasons, but mainly because it spoke my language – irreverent, but makes a very strong argument – and that is: as more B2B brands turn to content marketing, the consumer is going to be faced with a proliferation of mediocre content and inevitably, they’re going to disengage.
Let’s face it: content is the new kid on the block, and “content marketing” the vogue terminology of the moment. We’re in a time where many agencies are re-branding themselves as content agencies. But creating awesome content – focused on and relevant to the customer – is a completely unique skill that a re-branding doesn’t necessarily meet. It pains me to say it, but I agree with Velocity Partners – we’re “all about to be buried in crap.” Especially so in Asia.
To be the best, hire the best
So, how do you ensure that you’re not investing in and creating mediocrity? After all, anyone can create content, the challenge lies in creating great content. Those skilled at content succeed because they are customer-centric communications professionals – and they know how to create relatable content that their audience responds to. As an example, many journalists (and former journalists) will ignore commercial interests and publish information for the audience they are writing for, because this is what they’ve been trained to do. It’s in their DNA. It’s how they think about information every day.
This is important, because it is the people who have an eye for the customer that will help the world’s businesses standout in the coming content deluge. No one wants to be in the gang burying their customers in crap – right?
To be successful, organisations must put together a team that understands the content marketing fundamental: it’s not about speaking about your brand; it’s about speaking to the whole customer. Help your customer succeed. Make them more intelligent. Improve their lives. Answer their questions – especially the ones they didn’t know they should be asking. Content marketing is not about talking about your product features or services. Not yet. That comes once you win people’s hearts and earn their loyalty.
Image: by Velocity Partners
Be the consumer, but be yourself
A phrase I particularly liked in the Velocity Partners’ presentation is “Marketing Defense Systems”. It refers to the natural barriers people put up when they perceive they’re being sold to. This is exactly right. If your business’s content creators are not trained to focus on the audience (versus the client), then the more content you create and share, the greater the likelihood Marketing Defense Systems will come up. We’re already experiencing this content fatigue, with too many people excessively posting sales-driven, irrelevant content. And it’s very hard to get a second chance today. Time is valuable.
We’ve got to put ourselves in the shoes of the customer. Ask yourself: Who are they? What do they do? What do they care about? How can I help them? What information is of value to them? What conversations, within the mix of what they care about, are aligned to my brand? Which of those conversations can I own?
For example, a luxury travel group asked Novus Asia for some ideas on content. Our first step was to ask: Who is your customer and what do they care about? What content makes sense for them? In this instance, we knew the travel group was conversing with individual business travelers, but their customers also included the event industry, HR and training teams, procurement, as well as leisure travelers, millennials and specific country segments.
What conversations are relevant for a global luxury travel group to own across all these customer demographics? We believe our writers and strategists came up with some awesome ideas around luxury travel, but the conversations we suggested the group own were specifically targeted. There are many conversations a global luxury travel group should not own. And not all conversations are aligned to a brand. Targeting is critical.
Your consumer’s time is a currency, earn it
We’re all consumers of content. We know what captures our imaginations as individuals. Whether it’s K-pop or the latest Mashable or Huffington Post article, we know the sites we trust and go back to. That’s exactly the same process your customer goes through. They know what they want and are open to information sources they can trust. However, if you get it wrong – say you launch a tantalizing campaign that draws your excited customer to a site and you’re just selling a product (we’ve all experienced this disappointment right?) – do you think they’ll return? Or have their Marketing Defense Systems come up against your brand?
Recognise the finite amount of time your customers have and ask, “Is the content we’re creating worth their time?” If it’s not, why bother at all? You’re competing for that time. To get that investment, be awesome and challenge the status quo. Don’t be afraid to take a chance and do something completely different. Work with amazing content creators who understand both your business AND your customer.
Brands are awesome at speaking about themselves, but that time has gone. Talk to the customer and address their needs, not yours. That takes a whole new set of skills and insight, but it’s worth the time.
What do you think? Are you feeling the content deluge? What brands have earned your time?
This blog originally appeared on the Novus Asia blog.