The single biggest stumbling block I see to successful digital marketing is not the technology, or the money, desire, or need, it is simply the unwillingness or inability to create relevant, engaging content of value that suits the context in which it is seen.
Usually it reflects a lack of a solid understanding of why they are in the business, other than to pay the bills. As Simon Sinek would say, the “Why” of the business.
Interestingly, the same stumbling block exists with bigger enterprises, they may have websites stuffed with words and pictures, but often that is all they are: words and pictures without value.
The same reasons exist for the failure in both categories.
- Lack of marketing leadership. Where marketing is seen as an expense, and customers are all those out there from whom we need to extract money. In these cases, creating content is always a barrier, and where it exists, it is usually a steaming pile of crap. Irrelevant, hard to navigate, bland, talking about themselves, yada, yada. Almost always the content improves when the customer is put as the focus of the content generation activity, answering the question “how can we better inform our market” When everybody in a business recognises that they have a marketing responsibility, you get the environment where content can be improved, and this is a leadership function, to drive the culture.
- Content is not recognised as an asset to be leveraged. Knowledge is the new currency of success, in almost every business. Those who know more, and can leverage that knowledge, find success. Knowledge management is therefore crucial and where does it reside? Between the ears of employees, stakeholders, suppliers, and often customers. When that simple fact is recognised, steps can be taken to extract the knowledge, and organise it in some way to become information of value to customers. Intellectual Capital, is knowledge that can be used, and unlike physical capital, the more it is used, the better it gets.
- No process to record and organise ideas. Content is everybody’s responsibility, but there needs to be processes in place that make it easy, and encourage the contribution of ideas and information that can be massaged into content of value. The best i have seen are a bit like the traditional sales funnel, everything that comes in , and coming in is everybody’s job, is recorded, then the ideas and information progressively filtered and organised in a process that creates value for recipients at the end. You really need an idea bank into which everyone makes deposits, and deposits are rewarded, and used to create valuable content.
- No focus on content. The old adage, what gets measured gets done, is true, if it is important, and is treated as such, it will get done. One business I work with is led by a lady who sees content as important, so she devotes a part of her considerable energy to creating it, and by that simple example has tuned the place into a content generation machine over a relatively short period, and they are getting the sales to prove it works.
- Content is marketing’s job. NO. It is everybody’s job in an enterprise to assist the customer.
- You think you know it all, and why would you tell your competitors?. When this syndrome becomes obvious it is time to leave. Most commonly I see it in other wise sophisticated technical businesses, where the history tells them that keeping information to themselves, and dolling it out to customers like a drunk offering a swig at his bottle when they ask nicely is the way to gain and keep customers. Rubbish!
- Content for contents sake. Putting up any old stuff on digital platforms is counter productive. Our digital world has given all the power to the customer, if you post rubbish, it will be seen as a reflection of the business, and who would want to do business with you?
There has been a lot written by all sorts of people on the subject of “content” and there is a lot more coming. However, there are a few simple rules that should be followed:
- Make sure whatever content you put out there is a reflection of the business, its priorities, strategies, and value proposition.
- Know who your primary customer group is, and what they are looking for in a supplier in your space
- Always look at your content with the eyes of your customer, and in the context of the competitive landscape in which you are competing for your customers attention, engagement, and ultimately, money. If your digital face is not up to scratch, why should customers trust that your products and services are any better?
I would be very happy to talk more about all this over a coffee.