Marketers, Seriously: Do You Really Still Think It’s All About You?

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By Tim Moran, IMA Leader

Here it is, 2017 and a half, and when I read articles such as Is your content marketing missing the mark?, by Dan Ratner, I scratch my head. Not about Dan; he’s written a fine piece. But has any brand on earth not yet realized that the new world order in marketing is ruled by Content and Customer, not by Campaign? The mind reels. Yet it is so, which is why Ratner—and others—are still writing blogs and articles, not to mention running webinars and events, about what it takes, and how important it is, to be a credible and successful content marketer and brand-as-publisher (BAP).

Having recently moved on from running a venerable—for this genre, anyway—BAP site, I will be the first to admit that it’s not easy to do, and it’s even less easy to justify. When you are not trying to generate leads, or spur demand, or overtly sell products, what constitutes success is a smoky thing.

Yet it’s clearly important. Here’s a bit of what Ratner has to say about it:

“People aren’t sure where to turn to for credible sources and authentic material. Trust is critical to the success of content marketing. Trust is earned on two levels: Trust in the brand; and trust in the brand as a publisher. Brands can be activists to generate influential conversation and build a strong following along the way.

“Consumers expect brands to provide informative, entertaining and diverse content. They don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to all the time, even though they’re well aware of the purpose of marketing content.”

He is spot on. When I was Editor in Chief of CMO.com, we were clear in our mission to educate, inform, and entertain the reader, creating content that was as credible and authentic as we could make it. With that came the trust, and then the following, that he says will happen. It really does work.

The nuances, politics, and intricacies of maintaining such a content site within the cautious confines of a major brand’s marketing organization are topics for another time. Let it simply be said that, though not simple, it’s worth it. And there are opportunities here for all brands in every industry—stake out a topic that is important to your customers, prospects, and the industry, and own it at a level that transcends your brand.

As Ratner concluded: “Content marketing shouldn’t be difficult. When putting a content marketing plan together, it’s imperative to take a step back and think about what the brand wants to say, what the audience wants to hear, and how to create something that’s both interesting and relevant while staying true to the brand.”

Totally agree, but I would reorder this list a bit. Put “what the brand wants to say” at the back of the line. Zoom in with laser-like focus on what the audience wants to hear; create content for them that is interesting, entertaining, and relevant; and, then, by the way, make sure it aligns with the brands POV as much as possible. Remember: the reader/customer/audience cares not about your mission, or campaigns, or KPIs, or anything else marketers are so keen on. As Aaron Hillegass, CEO of Big Nerd Ranch, said in a recent interview I did with him: “So we really need to always be thinking: What is in it for the user? Because—newsflash!—they don’t really want to engage with your brand. What they want is something that’s going to be a benefit to them.”

That is the one fact about content marketing you really can take to the bank.

This article was posted by Tim Moran via LinkedIn Pulse

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