As I debated with my Uncle over Abhay Deol’s critique of brands that promote fairness to harness sales, I realized how flimsy our viewpoints had become. In the age of aggressive content Marketing, are we even sure of our take anymore? As Facebook becomes the Internet and Twitter, our “know-it-all” voice, something strange happens. A sense of insecurity creeps in, of not having read it all, of not having read it soon enough. Who is to say we’re right? Our loyalty lasts as long as the next caption rolls in.
While proponents of content marketing laud its dominance, is the humongous content out there any different? Today, all Marketers have the same tricks up their sleeves which makes me wonder; does a company’s content marketing even matter to its customers? If you google how satisfied companies are with their marketers, you’d get a resounding answer: Not so much. This dissatisfaction is not a variable of the company size or operating model, it is a result of using blanket tools of e-newsletters, Facebook pages and search engine rankings. Yes, a few things may work here and there but the general consensus does not change drastically. So, the usual rant of less than ideal traffic and conversion is here to stay unless companies and customers change course to cut through the clutter they have created. If the content that companies create and distribute is no longer different from anything else out there, does it not make sense to simply buy advertising? Yes, it is costlier and a lumpier investment too but that gives companies all the more impetus to not be a “me too.”
The single premise of content marketing is time. If brands expect customers to not hit the Skip button, they need to ask themselves an existential question; why should customers care at all? This question completely changes the dynamics of the playing field. It is no longer about creating a large amount of content; it is about creating the least amount of content with the highest customer engagement and resultant change in decision making. Even if one of our e-flyers hits the frontal lobe of the customer, the marketer’s job is done. Therefore, marketers have to create what’s truly useful, moving and uniquely different. Move beyond brand positioning, this entails positioning each individual content piece as well.
Choosing your battleground
As marketers today become more obsessed with the technicalities of the tool than with how they use it, it is important to choose our channel wisely. We got to figure out zones that have not been ravaged with marketing content and mark our territory. This will not just ensure lesser competition but will also draw attention simply because the channel used is unique. Your content needs the hook but more than that, where it is placed should also grab attention. But this is easier said than done, right? Do the marketers of today have the time and resources to truly tell compelling stories? If no, what can we do to still get the bread on the table? Read this: there maybe thousand blogs written about energy efficiency and new energy sources every day but a handful of podcasts are done on the same subject. Do we call it an opportunity? Well, maybe.
Kotler used a segmentation variable to determine the target group. Today, being niche is not niche enough. Our target groups have become smaller and they want attention that’s just for them. As Stephen King says that we have to find that one reader and then think about him/her each time we create content. Today’s infomercial for shampoos can no longer be about the Girl next door. It has to take into account “The girl next door, who instagrams more than tweets and lives in Cochin.”
I remember using Facebook and Twitter since high school. No one called it digital marketing then and here we are, with completely transformed television and reading habits. Out of nowhere, digital marketing has become the only cost effective mass tool. Guess what: the marketers who called what they were doing content marketing had used the right hook. All of a sudden, we were propelled into an era where it was uncool to not know digital. Yes, it helps to tell stories and it helps even more to tell the right stories people want to hear.
If we were to speak from the subject matter standpoint, educational consultants writing blogs on Math won’t cut it. But a blog on practising Calculus problems or electromagnetism diagrams despite exam anxiety and hectic schedules may just do.
All of us want to be missed in our absence. If we stretch this analogy to brands, even brands want to be missed in their absence (Case in point: Doormint’s excellent washing facilities won many hearts and even when they closed the shop, customers flooded the office with wishes.) The single job of the marketer is not to push the product in the marketplace. In fact, it is to create content that customers not just want but long to consume. In today’s age, it becomes harder to catch attention with each passing micro moment. Brands and marketers have to earn it. They have got to earn it over and over again by becoming your customer’s friends, by telling stories that stay relevant and by delivering impact. They must remember “Good enough” won’t win the battle for customer attention. They have to be great.”
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