I’m not seeing it.
Just because the marketing department is producing content -- I mean, memos could be considered content, right? -- does not mean that they’re engaged in content marketing.
Content marketing is defined as the production and distribution of audience-focused content that helps customers and prospects live their lives or do their jobs. It is not a press release about Widget 2.7.
However, most marketers seem to want to claim that they are engaged in content marketing because they do produce some content, and they want to be perceived as one of the cool kids.
That has led to a whole lotta content that, frankly, the audience has zero interest in. In fact, Sirius Decisions’ Erin Povey recently wrote that, by and large, the audience “hates your content’s guts.” Povey writes that the problem is that marketers remain focused on the content delivery vehicle (blog, social media, video) rather than the substance of the content.
Here’s a great analogy she offers: “I like movies. My eight-year-old stepson also likes movies. Guess what, though: We rarely like the same movies. The ‘guts’ or essence of what we like is fundamentally different.”
In other words, not all content is created equal, and not all content is right for the audience. Marketing today is about finding the right content for your audience at the right time. The buyer is in charge now, and if an organization’s marketing does not provide value when, where and how the buyer wants it, she’ll shut you down.
Simply checking the content production box is not good enough; you must put the audience first. The failure to deliver value to the audience is why so many would-be content marketers say that their content marketing efforts aren’t working. Thirty-four percent of B2C marketers, 32% of enterprise marketers, and 42% of B2B marketers -- most at barely a third no matter how you slice it -- say that they are effective at content marketing.
The problem almost certainly is that most marketers are continuing to produce content that is purely about them, their products or their services. And that is almost certainly not what the audience wants.
Your prospective customers want to be educated and entertained. They want awesome stories that engage them, show them how to do their jobs and get ahead of the competition. They want thought leadership.
It’s understandable that marketing departments are having a hard time reorienting themselves and their organizations toward the audience. After all, we’ve spent our entire professional lives promoting how awesome our goods and services are. Even marketers who understand the need to be audience-centric can run into a wall when trying to convince the C-suite of the need to dial back the sales pitch.
However, the evidence is overwhelming. The audience controls the buying journey now. Failure to acknowledge this amounts to marketing malpractice.
Otherwise, the audience will hate your content, tune you out, and move on to your competitor who is providing value.