Content marketing is a 100 years old technique, but over the last few years it got a little over-hyped, now that digital agencies are whipped up about its profitability. However, it seems like it does more harm than good for the industry.

 

What’s the buzz around content marketing

Now every digital agency seem to be trying a brand new and shiny toy called “content marketing”, despite the fact that this technique is older than most of these firms. They suddenly understood that by naming themselves a “content marketing agency” they attract way more clients’ attention than before.

Numbers speak for themselves: according to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing, yet generates over 3 times as many leads. What is more, conversion rates are also 6 times higher for content marketing adopters. Thus it’s not surprising that 51% of marketers are planning to increase their spendings on it this year.

In the long-term quickly rising interest to content marketing is able to speed up the development of the industry. And it would be completely fairytale-like as if every agency were focusing on creating epic ideas, not sucking money from clients impressed by the buzzword. 60% of marketers still don’t know how to create engaging content, yet 72% made a priority to create more of it. “The philosophy of doing a lot what we don’t yet do well is ruining content marketing,” thinks Ronell Smith, Content Strategist at RS Consulting in Dallas. Not enough digital agencies and brands leaders ask themselves “why are we doing that” before actually diving into content production. Instead they just blindly follow the current marketing trend, rushing in to take an advantage of it.

All in all, what we really see is that many content strategies are failing, because agencies believe in an array of false paradigms that block their way to success.

 

Myths about content marketing that agencies need to forget

Myth #1. Content marketing works for everyone.

You’ve heard a thousand times that content is king and that nowadays any business wanting to get noticed need to have a content strategy. Really? Well, let’s imagine you’re an advertising agency and you got a call from a potential client, asking you for content marketing services to benefit his business centered around selling high-quality stainless steel. Your head is bursting with creative ideas for him, huh? Very unlikely. Truth is content marketing doesn’t work for every type of a business, and for certain companies allocating budget on it would be a terrible waste of money and time. “Despite what the gurus would have you believe, there is no single marketing strategy that works for “every business, every time,” including content marketing. It’s time to emerge from the social media hype chamber and view content marketing rationally,” urges Mark Schaefer, Executive Director of the U.S.-based Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

 

Myth #2. It’s about what client wants, not the audience.

One key difference that distinguishes content marketing from advertising is that it won’t have an immediate boost selling effect. “Content marketing is that slow burn that predisposes audiences to a product or service, making them more likely to act when faced with sales-y communications later,” says Chris Boyles, experienced content marketer, Principal at the marketing agency Cantilever Communications. It’s a long-term strategy, which is based on an analysis of consumers’ values and interests and which answers to their fears and troubles, not a brand’s ones.

 

Open Forum. Content Hub

 

Take for instance the American Express’ content marketing strategy: its OPEN Forum, the main content marketing platform, is all about the personalized community of small-business owners. “You can tap into it to get answers to your questions to help you with your business,” assures Courtney Colwell, director of OPEN Forum and content marketing at American Express. They focus their strategy on creating ways to bring people together to help each other in solving their business burning issues. Their content is built around the audience’s needs, not their boss’s desires, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s not supporting brand’s services. On the contrary, it forms a strong level of trust among the audience and let people engage with the business.

 

Myth #3. There’s no need to change a thing

Agencies keep using their favorite tactics, thinking there’s no need to change anything. Spendings on content marketing are increasing, but nearly ⅔ of marketers admit that their main focus is social media ads, because there’s still a strong belief that sponsored media is sure to be seen. “Agencies are used to paying for placement, so it’s hard for them to think about creating something a media outlet would run solely on its own merits,” admits Chris Boyles. They’re stuck on the point of transformation from paid to earned media, while the last enables your brand to reach a wider audience, as Brian Kolb, Chief Operating Officer at Wright’s Media, claims.

For instance, Dove’s “Beauty on my terms” branded video published at the end of June already gained over 12.5 million views on YouTube. It’s a part of their Real Beauty content program and #MyBeautyMySay campaign, which encourages women to stand up for their own beauty. Honesty and authenticity of Dove’s stories resonate with the brand story as well as with its target audience and help to build trustworthy relationships.

 

Myth #4. Leave the strategy, get the execution

According to B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, only 35% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy in compare with 32% last year. So, the number of marketers to whom a planning stage of content marketing remains a weak point is only growing, while it should be their main focus.

Far too many agencies focus on quantity rather than quality when it comes to content marketing. They got used to advertising’ short life cycle, and keep using the same “ready, aim, fire” approach. However, while an advertising pops up and goes away, content endures, so agencies need to make sure it yields enough power and substance to stay around for a while.

Rolex. Instagram Account

 

For instance, Rolex has stepped up their content marketing game by producing high quality images of their products for Instagram and other social media channels. Rolex treats its content with the same attention to and appreciation for quality that customers expect from its watches,” points out Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics. They found a great way to be innovative yet remaining old-fashioned, and it resonates with the way consumers see Rolex as a brand.

 

Summary

Content is king, for sure, but its value equals zero without views and shares. “This suggests the need for a new marketing competency”, says Mark Schaefer. Agencies need to get over the “content shock” and stop seeing it as a buzzword they can promote themselves with, because, eventually, it goes down to whether you can deliver results or not. Content competition is increasing, and the sooner agencies will change their production mindset and start focusing on strategic planning and epic ideas, the better their chances will be in winning this long-haul game.

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