Content Marketing: The Beautiful Buzz and the Hellacious Hangover

by · December 28, 201210 comments

Traditional advertising diehards practically invented the two-martini lunch, but the old saps have been shunned from today’s meaningful marketing shindigs. To get their kicks, they mostly go to bonfire parties and burn their clients’ money.

Meanwhile, us new media maniacs are partying hard on content marketing.

The cork’s been yanked. Everyone’s tipping a glass.

And what a buzz. This gloriously intoxicating content marketing cocktail, this newly discovered recipe—two parts education, one part search, one part social—with an optional splash of advertising.

Content marketing isn’t just for the author/speaker/consultant types any more. For any marketer looking to build awareness, establish authority, capture leads, turn prospects into customers and customers into loyal brand advocates, content marketing is the recipe du siècle (century) 21.

Here comes the hangover.

content marketing hangover

Content marketing was canned and bottled every which way in 2012. It got big and went down easy.

You could snag sixers at 7/11. Some read the label. Some didn’t.

Some produced vintage material and experienced epic success. But some threw caution to the wind, scarfed down anything, then, barfed up everything.

They made a mess. And they’re in for it in the coming year—the hardcore, hellacious content marketing hangover.

The no-strategy headache.

WAKE UP!

Oh man, the light’s so bright, it hurts. You know the feeling. It’s the morning after. Suuuuuuuuucks.

Content marketing hacks are feeling it now. WTF happened? The rules were rewritten.

In 2012, a gazillion Google gaming gluttons got flushed. Down the drain they went. See ya—wouldn’t wanna’ be ya,—posers. Those thick on search shortcuts, but thin on useful content are now experiencing SERP sorrow, irritability, and some inevitable gastrointestinal discomfort.

Most got the memo. They learned a website with static web pages, flimsy content, and little authority were doomed. So they rushed to rectify the sitch. But far too many spewed forth another batch of keywords, data sheets and press releases and are now experiencing some horrible ROI.

Content marketing demands strategy. Get one, get out, or get ready for some intense headaches.

But there’s good news. Given the gold rush going on in content marketing, you should have little to no problem finding an able partner to help you mine the territory. Are you more of a DIYer? So be it. Good guidelines should be easy to come by as well.

I created a 7-step content marketing strategy formula and expanded on it in a presentation called, “Magnetic Content: Strategies to transform your website into a customer attraction force field.” The Feldman formula goes like this:

      1. Determine what action you want customers to take.
      2. Determine what potential buyers need to know.
      3. Create a content plan.
      4. Put a content creation team together.
      5. Get your digital ducks in a row (publishing platforms, social media, equipment, etc.)
      6. Promote what you publish.
      7. Measure everything.

Too much, too fast.

Now let’s look at some of the other common hangover-inducing practices known to spoil the party.

Too much, too fast is a major one. Just as slamming back shots will accelerate your blood/alcohol level, a bottoms-up approach to creating content will contaminate your bloodstream in short order.

Your content marketing machine should be set at a careful and calculated pace. After (which means: not before) you have goals established and a plan in place, it’s time to ideate and produce. The responsible handling of these two steps calls for:

    • Online social listening—You must identify the topics your target market cares to learn about and questions they want answered.
    • Tapping internal resources—Colleagues within the company should help inform the content creation plan.
    • Editorial calendar—Before you get going, stop.  Establish who will create what and where it will be published.

Get more on these ideas from this great article (and infographic): “How to Build and Operate a Content Marketing Machine,” published by SEOMoz.

The cheap stuff.

The finer, more effective content marketing plans leverage a variety of content types across a variety of media.

My early endeavors into hangover hell trace to (over) consumption of low budget sparkling wine. The bad decisions my friends and I made were partially due to taste—we hadn’t yet developed sophisticated wine palettes and so we gravitated toward the sweet stuff.

However, more importantly, we were just cheap. So we bought $2 bottles of Andre. Adjust for inflation and you’re now looking at $4 per bottle. ‘Nuf said. Don’t go there.

Great content demands less sugar, more spice.

The first order here: develop a plan to produce a blog and then some. The finer, more effective content marketing plans leverage a variety of content types across a variety of media.

Second, build a strong team. Of course, experienced and talented journalistic-type writers should be on the squad, but over the long haul, you’ll want to include professionals with diverse perspectives (inside and outside of your company) as well as skills in multiple media including design, video, and audio.

For more on content marketing team building, hit the SEOMoz article mentioned above: “How to Build and Operate a Content Marketing Machine,”

And, to truly understand how to maintain a regular production schedule while maintaining quality, click on over to Christopher Penn’s excellent article, “How to Fix the Sad State of Content Marketing.”

Chris will school you on how to avoid publishing crap by building a solid team of content creators and calling on the talent it takes to create vintage stuff.

Overindulgence.

Your fondness for your company, your people and products is great—except when it comes to content creation. Let that love lie. Indulge in your customer, his wants, her needs. And stop there. Ditch the pitch.

Yes, if you must, go ahead and populate your site with the requisite levels of narcissism it takes to please the boss, but when it comes time to get magnetic (create effective content), temper the indulgence. Drink smart. Keep a level head. Appoint a designated driver. Most of all, put your audience first and attend to their needs.

A guru of content marketing, Joe Chernov, said it all so fine in one little tweet…

Top of funnel content should be intellectually divorced from your product, but emotionally wed to it. 

You partied alone.

You need to find out where your audience is and engage them there.

If you consistently created killer content and then found yourself nauseous, fatigued or irritable, I’ll tell you why.

A good many content hangovers are the result of inadequate promotion. Remind yourself, content marketing ain’t magic. If you have 100% proof stuff, you need to bottle it up then pour it on. Let people know where to get it.

This comes from Greg Samarge, digital marketing manager at Nestle:

For us, the single largest issue is being able to create breakthrough content and still have the budget to fund distributing that content. It’s hard enough to justify the budget to create that content, but it’s even more challenging to then push for sufficient budget above and beyond the content creation to distribute this great content.

Social media is the key to this. You need to find out where your audience is and engage them there. Content marketing and online sharing go hand-in-hand.

Karen Snell, content lead at Cisco Systems, offers this:

As storytellers first, our team is dedicated to finding and telling stories that make a connection with our audience and producing them in such a way that they will make an impact, an impression and hopefully result in a social action — share, tweet, republish, etc. We are continually explaining our strategy and “selling” our approach. 

Gauge yourself.

The frenzied party animal never pauses to see how’s he’s doing. Still conscious? Full steam ahead sailor. There’s no tomorrow.

Ouch. Bad idea. Whether you’re whooping it up or marketing—if you never stop to assess and adjust the plan, there’ll be hell to pay. Velocity Partners’ great publication, “The Big Fat B2B Content Marketing Strategy Checklist” states:

The best content marketing organizations have learning cultures. It’s important to explicitly capture what has worked, what hasn’t and why you think it’s true. 

They advise:

  • Identify success factors and capture them.
  • Identify what failed.
  • Gather evidence to support conclusions.
  • Share with the widest team possible, regularly.

Party on.

And so it goes my friends. Hit the bottle I shall, you shall, we all shall.

Live and learn. Take from this story what you can.

While I encourage you to proceed with reckless abandon, I also caution you to be a big boy or girl and realize you reap what you sow.

Cheers. And Happy New Year.

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About Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman creates compelling content by telling stories. He's a freelance copywriter, creative director, content marketing consultant, and an alright guy. He specializes in persuasion and engagement and has authored the eBooks "21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website" and "The Plan to Grow Your Business with Effective Online Marketing" to help improve your online marketing. If you would like a piece of his mind, visit Feldman Creative and his blog,  The Point.

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  • Dara Khajavi

    This was an interesting point. This is an interesting perspective on content marketing. Too much of anything is never a good idea. In a rush to compete, many companies have rushed to utilize content marketing. However, this can mean low quality marketing and insincere content.

  • Doug Kessler

    Great summary. Not all content marketing will work. Some will actually backfire.
    The difference is strategy.
    And thanks for quoting the Velocity Checklist!

  • http://twitter.com/brandingbitch Jenna Markowski

    This is an awesome article, Barry! So many great tips, and I love your tie in with the buzz/hangover. My blog is suffering a bit of a content hangover now, but hopefully using some of your tips can help pull us out of the rut! Thanks for this excellent guide. :)

  • https://twitter.com/sanketpatel Sanket Patel

     Yes, I am agree with you all. This is a very good article as flow of content marketing. I just figure out all detail and try to develop it on my own ways.

  • http://twitter.com/creativeoncall Chuck Kent

    Great post; I particularly appreciate the emphasis on strategy (OK, that’s my second favorite part, the first being your apt use of “barf” in the subhead to describe the regurgitated nature of so much that passes for content).  I just wish that content marketers would not only take up strategy but extend it  to… no, actually make it one with the brand strategy. Why must every great new tool become its own silo?  Anyway, thanks for great overall image of the problem, and suitably terse advice for fixing it.

    • http://www.feldmancreative.com/ Barry Feldman

      Thanks Chuck. Feels strangely good to talk about barfing.

  • Professional Copywriting

    You are absolutely right about the rise of
    content marketing in 2012. The moves against keyword stuffed static webpages
    with farmed links that took effect this year have started the ball rolling for
    valuable content creation and 2013 looks to be the year that it will really
    pick up momentum. As you say, the key is to have a plan, but the focus of that
    plan has to be genuinely valuable content for the strategy to be successful.
    Coming up with a constant supply of good content will be the real challenge for
    many marketers in the coming year.

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