Attention all you content marketers out there: judgment day is at hand. That's the day that many brands will wake up soon to discover their content doesn't attract an audience like they were told it would.
Don't Be Drowned Out
It seems that everybody and their brother is talking about content these days, and how the only way to connect with the consumer is by giving them lots of it. They are right, of course, because about the only way brands can still influence advertising averse, digitally savvy, consumers is with content. The problem is that we have already come to the point where there is a veritable tsunami of content drowning consumers. It's a problem when both Nike and the local auto shop are doing content marketing.
I've seen this happen before. I remember the first time I was handed a loyalty card and told that I'd earn a free smoothie after 10 shakes. Delighted I dutifully put it in my wallet. The second time I got a card I also put it in my wallet. But soon I had no more room for loyalty cards and I bagged the whole idea. It looks like content is also becoming an out of control bandwagon.
The problem is not the idea of content marketing, it's that most content is not very good. Too much content is boring, unoriginal and poor quality. It may have some valuable knowledge in it, but it is usually buried in amateurish executions so lacking in engagement qualities that it probably hurts a brand more than it helps.
Brands have two large challenges. First they have to make content that is sufficiently excellent to engage and create brand preference, and secondly they have to find ways to make their content stand out. Not making content or making rubbish are not options. The problem is that brands and companies are usually not good at making content, and most of their agencies aren't either. Many are passable at short, advertising type messaging, but content is a very different animal. This unfortunately makes for a difficult situation when a company has a content driven marketing strategy and doesn't have the culture, people or capabilities in place to deliver.
Let me explain how difficult this is. I run an agency that specializes in content creation for our clients. We have a studio, editing and sound design facilities, animators, writers, directors etc. We have every possible capability for making great content. But even we find it challenging when we have to develop content for ourselves. If we find it hard, imagine how your average brand feels.
The only way that companies and brands can succeed with content is if they recognize it is an activity vital to their long-term prosperity. Companies need to make a high level commitment to creating an on-going stream of thought leadership content in all its forms if they want to lead their industries. This means a serious commitment to standards of excellence in creativity, originality and production execution that result in content that can compete for attention against all comers.
The only way that companies and brands can succeed with content is if they recognize it is an activity vital to their long-term prosperity and invest in it accordingly. It doesn't have to be expensive, like TV commercials, but you can't do it on the cheap either. Companies therefore need to make a high level commitment to creating an on-going stream of thought leadership content in all its forms if they want to lead their industries.
This means a serious commitment to standards of excellence in thought leadership, originality and production quality that result in content that can compete for attention against all comers. However, in an age when I can go into Best Buy and purchase a camera for a couple of grand that would have cost $50,000 a few years ago, it's tempting to think that just having the tools will get the job done. Nothing, however, is farther from the truth. Despite all the newly accessible technology, it still takes experience, creative skills and a variety of disciplines to create world class content.
The good news is that it is still possible to stand out, to be original and to surprise and delight your audiences with content that they think is really engaging, valuable and differentiating. It's getting harder, but that just means brands have to work harder. For those that pull if off your consumers will love you more than ever.
View some work examples to see exactly what I'm talking about: