20 May 2013

Marketing media matters but content is king

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We all know the conundrum of the car-chasing dog. Supposing the dog ever catches up with one… then what? Even the most pedigreed purebred doesn’t have a plan to deal with such a “success.”

Too many small business owners seem to take the same approach when it comes to marketing.  If only I could reach more people… they lament. Of course, any business can reach the world now thanks to web and social media. But before you go chasing after millions of potential customers, ponder the plight of that dog for a moment. What will you do when you actually reach them? Regardless of what you hope to sell them, what are you going to tell them? What messaging will help you convey key points and establish long term relationships with these potential customers?

Reaching the world is of no value if they’re not listening to what you have to say – regardless of the medium. It doesn’t matter if a seminar that impacted your life was in a conference room or streamed as an online webinar, explains Martin Holsinger of Vinotec Solutions. “Content, no matter what form it is in, is what makes the difference and changes people’s lives.

So what makes good content?  “It’s not (just) a 2000-word multi-author white paper or a $1 million viral ad. Consider quality content simply as any element in the message that provides standout value to the recipient (aside from the inherent ‘value’ of any offer),” says Mark Brownlow in Email Marketing Reports. Brownlow says he looks for content “that lifts itself from the competition by delivering more of the following:

  • Usefulness and/or
  • Entertainment and/or
  • Emotional impact

“A badly written 2-line customer product review that highlights an issue with one use of a product, but recommends an alternative…is quality content,” continues Brownlow. An email that makes you laugh (with the sender, not – hopefully – at them)…is quality content. A carefully chosen image that touches the emotions of the viewer…is quality content. Once you get away from the idea of Pulitzer prize-winning articles and viral video hits as ‘quality content’, a whole host of possibilities arises for just what you can do with your messages.”

Quality Counts

For several years now search engines have been shifting away from the abbreviated data found in meta tags and looking more at overall website content. So your search engine ranking and the hits and links that a good ranking can yield may be more content-dependent than you think.

Still don’t believe content matters? Consider the world-famous Super Bowl ads that seem to draw as much attention as the game every year. With a captive audience approaching 200 million and a nearly $4 million price tag for a 30-second spot, surely every ad delivers quality content that hits the mark, right? Well, not exactly, according to Daily Finance writer Matt Brownell who compiled a list of losers and labeled the 2013 entry from advertising powerhouse Pepsi “a forgettable and unoriginal spot.”

“The point is that ‘good’ isn’t based on how much money your business pays an advertising agency for creative development or the amount spent on media placement,” says Michael Kristof at Kristof Creative. “A media buy only determines who sees your message, when, and how often.”

“It has to be quality content,” echoes Steve Olenski in Forbes Magazine. “It has to be content that your customers and prospects want to see and read and engage with and share with their friends.” Joe Pulizzi at the Content Marketing Institute sums it up this way: “Regardless of what the economy does, or how your overall marketing spend changes, great content rises to the top and can continue to fuel your business.”