Not the foggiest clue

21st Jul, 2014

| by writesolutions

As buzzwords go, ‘content marketing’ is the hottest new thing rocking the digital world – but do marketers really understand what it entails?

A real challenge that content producers like us are currently facing in the industry is that while all our clients want to ‘content market’ they just won’t spend time to understanding the nature of the beast.

“Can you do Social Media Optimization (SMO) for us on a budget of X/month?”

“How many FB activities or LinkedIn posts would that include?”

“Should we host our blog on WordPress or GoDaddy?”

“How many blogs can you ghostwrite for our company in this budget?

“Would you participate in LinkedIn group discussions also on our behalf? We can mail you our PPT that explains all our services…”

“We have a very tight budget for this. Should we make a VFX (video format) from our PPT and host it on a free-of-cost YouTube channel?”

“Could you submit an Excel sheet with your invoice, every month, telling us exactly how many posts you made on LinkedIn and FB?”

When a client, who had just started his SMO programme with us, issued me that diktat, I was genuinely foxed.

Was he trying to use me to micro-manage and monitor my own output? And more important, can we actually pin-down posts to a given number and claim we have a well-thought out SMO programme running?

What if something really earth-shattering, newsworthy happens in his industry, and I may have already exhausted my assigned quota of two corporate posts/week on LinkedIn? Should I exercise restraint then and sit on the news instead of broadcasting it to his community, oops, target audience?

Worse is the case with clients who want instantaneous ROI on their SMO spends. They don’t understand that marketing is best used as a strategic tool to drive sales, and that fundamentally it remains a cost-head. But if you are thinking long-term then, it could also be seen as an investment. By itself, it’s certainly not a profit centre.

You incur costs on building websites, developing sales collateral, videos, and sharpening your content strategy to create a set of digital properties that would hopefully strike a chord with your customers, drive value and impact sales long after you have absorbed the costs spent on creating these tools. Unfortunately the value of digital properties is not assessed the same as that of plants, offices and buildings.

Thus, I was not surprised when barely three months after rolling out an ambitious SMO programme, this client decided to scale down his activities.

“Let’s not post on LinkedIn Groups, we haven’t received any direct leads from that channel in three months.”

“Don’t do corporate updates either, because we have decided to outsource that activity to our business partners and invite them to be our followers (?????). Just give us blogs – how much would that cost?”

Never mind that even in this limited time span, this client had emerged as a top contributor to a Group that was the most influential LinkedIn Group in his category and had the maximum number of followers, some of whom would have followed his company also in time, but that’s something his data capturing software program won’t inform.

I was tempted to ask, did he build his strong relationship with his wife of 10-years over three months? How can he then hope to build a strong and loyal relationship with his customers over three months, by merely sending them a few corporate updates and free-to-download content pieces?

Wasn’t that a tall order?

Honestly, I am not pissed at this client. I understand that SMO is a new kid on the block. The technology, the business models all continue to evolve around it. To expect a quick RoI from it is only going to disappoint. In an imperfect world, brands and equities don’t get built, overnight, and it’s foolish to expect them to.

And to buttress my statement, let me regurgitate (sorry, that’s not content marketing, although sharing content that begs to be shared, certainly is) the findings of a recent Forrester Compare Your B2B Content Marketing Maturity study wherein analyst Laura Ramos surveyed 113 senior marketers to determine their “content development sophistication and maturity,” and it revealed that 87% marketers find developing engaging content a major challenge.   Many among these are not using content to inform their customers about their industry— so what exactly are they writing about? Their half-cooked, juvenile strategies aren’t paying off and in their impatience to get results they are marching off in different directions, trying various things and lacking the courage and conviction to stand behind any one, particular thing.

writesolutions

Radhika Sachdev

Content Strategist

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