In so many ways, technology has made content marketing much easier – for marketers. For consumers? Sometimes yes, but too often, no. Increasingly, marketers get swept up in the technological aspects of what they’re doing and forget why they’re doing it, or who they’re doing it for.
To be fair, the technology can be downright amazing. And, when wielded well, all those high-tech marketing tools can lead to very effective campaigns. But trouble arises when marketers overlook the human aspects of what they’re doing, and forget that it’s all about the consumer – or it should be.
If I, as a content marketing professional, get frustrated by some of the boneheaded things I see every day, I can only guess how aggravated average consumers must feel. Here are seven things I imagine Joe (or Jane) Consumer would tell content marketers if he could:
It’s about the reader – not about you
Yes, you’re trying to promote a product or service, and possibly even one the consumer actually wants. But no one wants to hear how great your product is. They want to hear why it’s great for them. It’s simply human nature to wonder “what’s in it for me?” Successful content marketing gives consumers perspective on how a product or service fits into and will enhance their lives.
You may not be as interesting as you think you are
My first boss in the PR industry once flabbergasted me by telling a very high-paying, high-powered client, “Don’t believe your own B.S.” The client got the point, and not just because my boss didn’t bother to abbreviate. It’s important to understand the realistic role your product or service can play in the consumer’s life. Self-aggrandizement won’t get you anywhere, even if you’re selling something your target audience really needs and wants. Stick to the facts and keep that perspective we talked about in point No. 1.
SEO so what?
Search engines are the filters that your content must travel through in order to reach consumers. What’s more, they’re a tool to help consumers find you. But if you’re creating content solely to game the search engines, it’s not likely to be something the end-user wants to consume. You need to balance search engine demands against what’s good for (read: of interest to) consumers.
If it’s short it MUST be sweet, too
Twitter has proven beyond any argument that you don’t need 1,000 words to sell a product or get a message out. Some of the best content marketing – not to mention storytelling – in the history of the Internet has occurred on Twitter. Of course, so has some of the worst. Many new forms of content marketing emphasize brevity, and that can be a good thing. But when your message is short, it’s more important than ever that it also be compelling and well-presented. Otherwise, instead of short and sweet, it will be lazy and stupid.
Picture = 1,000 words, but are they good or dumb words?
Content marketing is more visual than ever. Infographics, video – even selfies – all play an important role in helping consumers understand your messaging. But just as you strive to maximize the value of every word used in your marketing, it’s important that visuals serve a purpose too. Including a visual just for the sake of doing it is worse than useless – it’s downright annoying to readers. Your visuals need to stimulate, inform and apply to your overall messaging.
I don’t care and you can’t make me
Deep down inside every consumer hides a recalcitrant teen. That’s the voice that will rise to the fore in their minds if your content fails to resonate with your target audience. Making consumers care about your message is a fundamental requirement and challenge of content marketing. It is possible to create caring, but not if you don’t understand your target audience or the real value your product or service might have for their lives.
I’m smarter (and busier) than you think
Everyone is busy these days – that’s true across virtually every demographic, income and educational level. Consumers don’t have time to waste and they won’t forgive content that eats into their time and gives them nothing useful in return. What’s more, consumers are increasingly media savvy, whether they’ve gone to college or not! They can spot a hard sell and worthless content faster than you can say “click-through rate.”