Content marketing, I’m sad to say, is fast becoming the new social media.
In other words, what has always been a fundamental part of the marketing mix, is now a cliché falling from brand manager’s lips at an unspeakable rate. And this means noise — lots and lots of noise.
As with advertising, the trick with content marketing is to provide prospects and customers real value, not more unwanted noise.
Patrick Spenner, managing director at CEB’s Marketing & Communications Practice, argues in Forbes that “breaking through the noise to simply win the customer’s attention isn’t enough. High quality content has to fundamentally change the customer’s direction, and it does that by teaching and motivating the customer in specific ways.”
Spenner clarifies, “This is a different kind of teaching—it’s teaching the customer something new about their own business.” He adds, “Content that changes customer direction provides compelling reasons why action is necessary.”
I like the sounds of Spenner’s voice, but I would caution that the line between teaching and becoming a didactic bore is thin indeed. Brands are not professors; therefore, they can ill afford to stand in front of the room and blather on about things that may or may not be on the test. Brands are in the persuasion business. Granted, in oder to persuade, especially in B2B scenarios where the cost of one transaction can be in the millions, education is a large part of the persuasive process.
Imagine buying a John Deere* tractor for $269,000. It’s not as simple as which new Ford pickup appeals to you most, it’s a decision that may boost productivity, or if the machinery is faulty in some way, it could cost the farm operations dearly. In cases like this, education is going to play a major role in the purchase decision. There are countless other examples where education is key, but there are far fewer examples of brands that get education, or their content marketing, right.
*John Deere is a pioneer in content marketing, courtesy of its magazine The Furrow, founded in 1895.