Without Purpose, Your “Content Marketing” Is Just a Noisy Distraction

I go to a LOT of marketing conferences. Most of them are at CMO / VP-level, and deal with some pretty cutting-edge concepts when it comes to brand strategy and adopting to the ever-changing world. This year, the biggest discussions are around Brand Experience – and for many, that means Content Marketing.

At its core, Content Marketing is simply creating content to drive business awareness and leads. Pretty simple, right?

Of course the answer is yes and no. Here’s the issue I’ve been seeing with Content Marketing: A lot of businesses are jumping onto the content marketing bandwagon and producing content, but without consideration of just what the point of it is.

When I was at the GDS CMO Summit in Mexico in October, you might have seen me tweet “Marketing 2016: Let Me Entertain You.” That’s a pretty good summation of what I’m seeing, and for the most part it’s what I see modern marketing turning into – a desperate, unfocused grab for attention through entertainment as a way to get customers through the door.

The problem is, a lot of companies aren’t thinking their strategy through on this. In their excitement and eagerness to stay current, they are forgetting the important question of WHY?.

And it’s not a question of why should we be doing content marketing. It’s the question of why should we be doing content marketing the way we are? What’s the strategy behind all of this? What are you trying to accomplish, and how does it fit into your overall brand strategy?

I spent quite a bit of time in Mexico talking to agencies who focus on video – in particular to discuss with them how they view video content as part of an overall strategy, and I’m happy to say most of them really do get it. Rather than just pumping out continual content to grab customer eyeballs, they understand that video (like all content) needs to be created with a destination in mind.

One thing I’ve seen happening more and more is marketers getting enamored with the idea of being content creators. How do they build creative product that gets eyeballs. How do they go viral? But even if you get a million views on your video, aren’t they kind of worthless if they aren’t from your target customers? (Yes, there is general brand awareness here – but that should be secondary to targeted marketing, in my opinion).

I’ve seen companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making what is absolutely top-quality content. But they did it without a clear goal in mind. They never asked questions like

  • Is the content for existing customers to further brand engagement and loyalty?
  • Do we want customers to share the content with friends to drive word-of-mouth marketing?
  • Are we using the content to target potential customers as a lead-generation tactic?
  • Who exactly is this for? (Who would want to “consume” this?)
  • What is the purpose and how does it fit in with business goals?

Going viral is great. I’ve had things go viral, and it’s great to get that extra attention – but unless your brand is so mass-market that it doesn’t matter who sees it, you want to make sure your content goes viral with the right people.

Figure out who you’re creating content for before you start creating it.

Figure out what you want those people to do once they engage with your content.

Figure out how your content ties in to your overall brand perception.

These things matter. Even though content (including video) is getting more cost-effective to produce it doesn’t mean you should just crank it out without clear purpose. Otherwise all you’re doing is making a bunch of noise and hoping someone notices.

You should totally share this.

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