Content Conundrum

If content is king then some content creators are court jesters.

Content marketing is a hot topic, which is odd because marketing has always been about content. Long ago we used to buy expensive ad space in magazines (younger readers may need to Google that word). Television is content and product placements in entertainment are as well. Content has always been the marketing communications medium. The new excitement comes from people hot over the idea that creating gobs of digital content, which has a near zero distribution cost, is a great way to market.

What content to develop for which audiancesExcept when producing a slick, urban YouTube video for backwoods survivalists.

Content has always required targeting – what content, for which audience and at what point in their buying cycle. Mismatch any of these three elements and you are spending money to create content that won’t work, isn’t consumed, or may even kill sales by inducing confusion into the customer discovery path. This is why some of the most widely adopted content strategies do not appear on the list of most effective tactics.

Break-out a spreadsheet. Down the first column list all the phases of customer discovery about solutions to their problems. Across the top list each genotype (personae) that needs to learn about your product. Black-out any cell where interaction is not necessary or wise. In the remaining cells, define what types of content are possible, which are preferable to the genotype in question, and how effective you think each is. Odds are when you do this, your content creation tasks will be a third of what they are now. More importantly, you will have time to create high quality content for precise impact.

Content marketing is, as always, a great tactic. It is especially good when search engine optimization and marketing (SEO and SEM) guide content development. What isn’t so great is when there is no understanding of the buyers, their buy cycle and their content consumption preferences. Tossing a junior marketer into the content creation maelstrom to churn-out pointless and repetitive content kills enthusiasm, wastes money and doesn’t make sales happen.


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