The demise of content marketing

Have you seen any good adverts lately? Ah. Sorry. I’m being a prick. Of course you haven’t. And with all the ads and other things available at your fingertip, you probably wouldn’t be interested enough to be bothered about them anyway.

Advertisers are starting to get this. Their analysis is on target but the product and output is off.

Nordea – one of the largest advertisers are now creating fake editorial content and distributing it via bought ad space.

Where the hell is the advertising world going? And why are those people so incredibly tiny?

Anyhow, Nordea are now jumping on the content marketing bandwagon as so many others have done, and will do in the coming years. What is so wrong with that?

First, let’s talk about “content marketing” 

What’s good about the content part is effectively neutralised by the marketing part. They are contradictory. The instant you deliberately treat and disperse good quality content with same logic as advertising – it fails. It then comes with the subtext of ill will and is perceived as less than what it actually might be.

At best, good content has a purpose, a story, and an urge to educate, entertain or fill some real need. Marketing is about interruption and pushing as many over a certain path in the funnel as possible.

I think there are a number of conditions that must be filled for a company to successfully be able to master the art of “content marketing”. Or perhaps, master the art of content. Full stop.

Your purpose doesn’t come with an asterisk*

First of all – if you want to use the power of content, you have to have a certain sense of altruism. You give something away because you believe your customers are better off because of it. That they are enlightened more interested and just generally more satisfied. As a company you have something to share, you stand for something, and hopefully you have a purpose and an idea that is in your core and that you truly think is important.

It’s not the same thing as your business. Your purpose doesn’t come with an asterisk, attached with a price tag. That’s your business and it’s two completely different things.

The value is attention

Marketing doesn’t really create attention – it creates artificial attention that is elusive and constantly needs to be recharged. One of the basic premises of marketing is that it hijacks your attention and urges you to act in a desired way – on the contrary – good content achieves attention, interest and in the best case, an improved state of understanding.

In marketing, the distance between the attention and the sale is either to close or far to distant. It becomes attention seeking for the sake of attention or the intention of an immediate sale. It doesn’t create demand – it displays supply.

If you create a recurring cycle of attention – something that becomes a self-playing piano, it creates a community and a following around it, it gives you the opportunity to sell something in connection to that.

Content is smooth, it creates trust, it takes time and it makes sure you’re satisfied first. It builds up demand. Then it suggest that maybe, just maybe you ought to have a look at this thing over here.

Monetization is where we go wrong

The main problem is about expectations.

What return do we expect in the short term that our content should deliver? Most likely they are evaluated on the same KPI’s as regular marketing material, most likely, in this day and age, at the narrow end of the funnel, close to the sale, where there is an expectation for short term ROI.

When marketers create content they really ought to be evaluated on how the users engage with it, and if it rhymes with the purpose of your business.

The demise of content marketing is the compulsion to put it in to an advertising framework to create similar benchmarks as for regular adverts. Then it becomes “native-advertising”. On the sell-side, it’s purely about structure and efficiency. Selling media and ad-space is about standardization, to create standards, a smooth process and efficiency in delivery.

The phenomenon of native advertising is really just content put in a new marketing framework. And then, unfortunately, it falls into the trap of all other digital display marketing – it becomes invisible, largely due to the fact that it follows a pattern and a template that quickly becomes recognized, and subsequently, a blind spot to the reader.

To sum it up

To be fair, being in the content game is a long-term commitment, and you shouldn’t use the same measurements as for regular advertising.

You need to be hardwired for this way of thinking about your business goals. It’s about being in it for the long term, and prioritizing customer value, rather than short term gains at the expense of customer satisfaction. Be authentic and sincere – create something that rhymes with your purpose.

If mass-market adoption and high volumes primarily motivate you, this might not be for you.

Your purpose and values are not what you should be charging your customers for – it’s what they will choose you for, and what they will base their decision to stay with you for.

You can’t be anything but inspired by the genius of Gary Vaynerchuck, take a look:

Attention is the asset

Your purpose doesn’t come with an asterisk * Borrowed this quote from Gary Vaynerchuck – and i think it is spot on.

Just follow the man for daily inspiration.