This guy stood up on stage to a packed room…you won’t believe what happened next…

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(The ongoing horror of content marketing and the likes of link bait)

The warning signs were there weren’t they?

Standing up in front of a room full of smart people from the world’s leading publishers to chair a debate in March 2015 was perhaps one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever had to do.

Embarrassing because the topic being discussed by the panel of marketing luminaries was Content Marketing.

You know, the discipline of producing interest, relevant and useful content that is suited to the audience not the producer.

And we were there, without a hint of irony, to enlighten the vast audience about this astonishing new breakthrough. We were there before a room full of people that work in an industry that has spent centuries doing exactly what we marketers were trumpeting as the new great white hope (or is that “hype”?)

It’s no surprise that as an industry we are now in “selfie therapy” (taking a bloody long hard look at oneself) to work out quite were it’s all gone wrong for marketing departments across the globe.

We are beyond saturation point, every day more and more whitepapers, guides and voxpop videos are being created and uploaded and ignored. The internet is bloated by the vast landfills of never-watched, never-read content pieces.

So why has this happened? Why have we got it wrong? Well, at Junction we have previously argued that good content requires a balance, it needs proper planning and insight alongside good production, underpinned by equal effort in the promotion of the content. That’s what we call the Three Ps of content and you can read that elsewhere.

But it’s also failing as a technique for the same reason most other marketing trends, techniques and channels fail; because of overuse and undervalue.

Consider the email spammers, the LinkedIn recruitment consultants, the search engine link builders and now the content link baiters (we’ve all seen headlines like the one to this very post, designed to draw us in, destined to disappoint on arrival) who have all eroded the value and trust of these marketing methods.

But fear not, it’s not quite doom and gloom for us all just yet. Like these others channels, there is still a chance to stand out and succeed by just doing a few things differently.

So, go back to your content marketing schedules and rosters, press pause and just check:

  1. Insight – have you spoken to customers or your market before crating content? Have you analysed your web analytics to understand average page duration, watch duration or other metrics that help you rank your content? Have you spent time with your sales teams (telephone or instore) to ask them what most customers ask them about before buying? (as this a great source material for new content)
  2. Format – have you reviewed the various formats you are using? Have you tried to fragment and simplify your existing content? To try and break up the banks of underused presentation and reports you already have that could well be useful, just in a different size or format.
  3. Placement – have you worked out where your audience is online? Are they online even? (should printed material be a major route to get the message out for example) have you found the online congregations and hang-outs of your market? Have you spent quality time on building good quality lists and followers on the right social and digital channels (email for example) to get yourself a flying start on your content being seen and shared?

There are many such questions and considerations, all that should ideally be addressed at the planning stage (if you’ve already started a content programme and wondering what it is actually delivering in terms of business value, this may now be the point to conduct this pause and review?) so that you prioritise the tight mix and volume of content – our experience at Junction is that less is often more and most organisations are churning out too much content without suitable effort to gain traction first, so consider going on a content diet for a while? “Sweat the assets” if you like.

Whatever your plan, make sure you have one, don’t risk valuable time and budget adding to those vast landfills and squander the opportunity to deliver on the huge positives of done-right Content Marketing; relevant and valuable fuel to power your marketing and communications.

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