Photo Credit: WorldSeriesBoxing/Flikr
“Content Marketing” is a popular buzz term right now in business – with many advertising reps slinging the term around casually. But are they truly providing this for their clients? Or are they selling “click-baity” advertorials disguised as compelling content?
While consumers rapidly migrate toward the digital jungle, the advertisers and marketers hunting them have been struggling to track, and lure their quarry. Their prey has become far more crafty in this new interactive era. The Old School tricks of the trade no longer apply. The customer is wiser, faster, and far more powerful than ever.
The digital divide has delivered a staggering blow to traditional media. TV ad revenue is down while YouTube’s is on the rise for example. Local newspaper subscriptions are wavering as they try to lure readers to laggy websites riddled with pay-per-click ads and other visual noise. Within the span of 5-7 years, these once dominant advertising platforms now find themselves struggling to stay relevant.
One startling element I have noticed lately is advertising reps selling and publishing what they call “Content Marketing,” which is in many cases closer to click bait, or a blatantly ‘salesy’ advertorial.
This Guy bought a “Content Marketing” Article. When the Customer Read it You Won’t Believe They Did!!!
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources/Flikr
The headline above should look familiar if you’ve spent any time scrolling through your Facebook feed over the past five years. It’s a prime example of Click Bait. Headlines that end with: “What He Did Next Was Unbelievable!” or begin with “They Never Expected This!” are designed to generate curiosity and prompt the audience to click on it.
Most often these types of posts are filled with nonsense, or link to a viral video and have no real substance. They essentially drive traffic to sites in order to boost pay-per-click or pay-per-impression ad revenue. A click-bait style headline will typically over promise in the title and under-deliver with the content.
Answer a Question, Solve a Problem, Establish Trust.
Picture yourself as the proud owner of an auto-body shop for example. You specialize in repairing damaged vehicles, and paint blemishes. Your advertising rep sells you a “content marketing” article entitled: Car Body Maintenance: A How-To Guide. Your prospective customer then finds it by searching for “car body help Kingston” or “body maintenance Kingston Ontario.”
Once the reader clicks on the title, however, they find that there is no “how-to guide” at all. The article repeatedly tells them to contact your business and tries to hard-sell your service from the first paragraph to the very last word.
This is a complete mess. The reader had a problem they needed to solve, or a question they needed an answer to. The title made them think they had found that solution, and instead tricked them into a lame advertorial.
Also, if the “content marketing” you have paid for is sitting there with only 4-5 shares on social media over two weeks after being published – you have a pretty good inclination as to how well received it was (or wasn’t). You can kiss that opportunity and your investment dollars in the article goodbye. I can’t stress this enough: Don’t mislead your audience.
“The Customer is Not a Moron.”
This age old quote from David Ogilvy has as powerful of a resonance today as it did in the Mad Menera called the 60’s. Online savvy customers can smell nonsense a mile away, and will flee from it instantly. Not only that but the same customer you depend on for sustenance can in turn expose one wrong move and digitally devour your brand.
Understand, who your customer is, and what they want. What interests them? Why do they purchase what you sell? What kinds of stories spark their curiosity, and inspire them to share it with other potential customers? One excellent and inexpensive way to discover this is to simply ask them, either in person – or through your social media channels.
Storytelling: The Elemental Force of Content Marketing.
True content marketing is best described as brand journalism. And like an embedded journalist, the writer is someone who will get completely immersed in your business through research and interviewing you and your staff. Compelling content overlooks the product or service and instead focuses on the human element.
Rather than sell the reader on why they should simply buy your product or service, a well-crafted content strategy will instead sell them on the idea of your brand – and associate it with a need, or desire. The goal is to generate an intellectual buy-in. The stories you tell should endeavor to introduce the people who make your business successful, and the problems you solve for your customers, partners and the community.
Tapping into an audience can be a real challenge. Continuously engaging with them is even tougher. You’ll be surprised to know, however, that there is a broad spectrum of stories just waiting to be told within each and every business. If you would like to learn more, and discover how a content focus can help your business, please don’t hesitate to contact me.