Posted March 24, 2014 4:14 pm by with 5 comments

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empty heart rgbstockOnly one in three marketers describes their own content marketing as effective. How’s that for a bold, beginning of the week statement?

It comes from a new report from Forester Research called “Build Your Content Brand By Delivering Customer Value” and that pretty much says it all right there. The report says that marketers, in their rush to keep the the lines of communication open, tend toward random acts of content marketing that just leave consumers wanting more.

The problem is that we’re doing it the way we’ve always done it, even though the methods are less effective than they used to be. Why? Here’s a hint. Times have changed.

Thirty years ago, consumers learned about new products from magazine ads and TV commercials. Maybe their next-door-neighbor just tried the new floor wax and happened to mention how it made her floors shine without that terrible waxy build-up. Consumer goes to the store, sees the product sitting next to one other choice, remembers the ads and the neighbor and decides to try.

Now multiple all of that times ten. Ads on TV, in magazines, on the web, in their email. 600+ friends on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are speaking up about their favorite floor wax and Amazon has 45 reviews on all of the 10 top brands. It’s hard to get noticed when you’re wearing a green shirt at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Forrester says its time to start thinking more like a customer and less like a marketer. Instead of asking, how can I get consumers to like my product, you need to ask, what is it my target consumer needs? And it’s even better if you address a subset of your customer base. You know what they say, niches = riches.

The report uses two examples from the food industry. Kraft built an audience by giving away recipes that. . . (what a coincidence) often include Kraft ingredients. But here’s the distinction – Make dinner with a can of Kraft Mushroom Soup is very different than Make Mushroom Chicken for Dinner. Same recipe, same ingredients, same pitch to make it easy with canned soup but the first one is a push (pitching your product), the second one is a pull (providing value).

And if you’re lucky, the consumer will try the recipe, enjoy it, then click the share button for Facebook. Instant, high level exposure. When was the last time you tore an ad out of a magazine to share with a friend?

Once you put it out there, you have to have the analyze the data to see what’s working. Digital marketing has a huge advantage over traditional marketing in that you can see the results instantly. Look at which Facebook posts got the most likes and which Twitter Tweets were reTweeted. More importantly, look at the ones that were ignored. If you’re pitching Spring dresses but your customers are only sharing the winter sales, don’t keep pushing spring. It sounds simple enough but it’s easy to get caught up in traditional marketing cycles especially if you’re in a company that still doesn’t get it.

The key to successful content marketing is the content. Blog posts, Pinterest boards, YouTube videos – look at every asset you put out last week and ask yourself, what value did it offer the customer?

This blog post. The one you’re reading right now. It’s meant to give you the push you need to try something different this week. Pick an under-served section of your audience and create a piece of content that addresses them directly. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

  • Norton Loomer

    Cynthia, this post is spot on. It’s essential for marketers to create different kinds of content. If we always create the same thing, we will lose our audience quickly. Being unique is very important in today’s marketing world. And, like you say, we also must evaluate what we are doing. When we find something that works, we should do it again. We don’t have to come up with something different every time, just as long as we are presenting something with value to our audience.

    Now I just need to figure out what new thing to try!

    • cynthialil

      If it was easy, everyone would do it! LOL. Thanks for the comment

  • Simply publishing content isn’t content marketing anyway. If the content being published stimulates NEW demand, that is content marketing. So once the new demand is stimulated satisfying consumer demand for more of the same moves away from being content marketing to simply publishing.

    It would be better for people to call this second phase Demand Management — I believe there would be less confusion with that expression than with Content Marketing. If marketers realize they are trying to manage demand they’ll start building channels to satisfy the demand and sustain it rather than blindly throwing content out at the public.

    • cynthialil

      Good point – and I think that’s a large part of the problem. It’s the if we build it they will come mentality, but just because you post to your blog every week doesn’t mean people are reading or gaining anything from it.

      • I firmly believe in “Build It and They Will Come” as long as you build something worth coming to. The publish-publish-publish machine is not capable of doing that, in my opinion.