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The Risks of Content Marketing

By Gary | 16th Apr 2013 | Posted in Marketing

Growing Social MediaSo much buzz. So much appeal. Anyone can do it, as long as they have the right “standards”. Doesn’t even matter if you’re in a ‘boring industry’ – you can still get away with a bit of the ol’ content marketing.

“Content Marketing” is safe. It’s a safe choice. No wonder it’s seeing massive growth (from all those months ago when a new term was coined in the SEO industry for something that marketers in other disciplines have been doing for years). Digital marketing, or SEO, or whatever thing you prefer to self-identify with in this space, seems to have a real problem with learning stuff from established fields like psychology or sociology or economics (or behavioural economics if you’re trendy) or even, gawd forbid marketing, and referencing them in their own terms… we seem to have to re-invent it and make it the latest shiny new thing, even if it’s an Ogilvy quote that everybody knows. Anyway, that’s a subject that needs its own attention.

Content marketing is safe. It’s a safe choice. I probably shouldn’t be knocking on safe choices because I’m trying to convince you to spend 10% of your pointless TV dollars on the internet instead, but then I’ve never had a multi-million TV ad budget, so I don’t really know what your ad guys think about it.

Allow me to start again.

Content marketing is safe. It’s a safe choice. It’s a safe choice for your company.

For big companies with marketing budgets – you have nothing to lose by writing about your expertise, and your ‘audience’ will love it. In fact, they’ll especially love it if you give them some insight into the stuff you know and why you do what you do (note: that doesn’t necessarily include the ‘how’ you do what you do, but if you’re going to throw the shackles off, that stuff goes down real well too).

Intel's "Museum of Me" was an example of great content marketing.

Amazing as it sounds, all you have to do is find some people in your organisation that are passionate about what they do, and ask them to write something about it. Simple? If you have a problem finding people in your company that are passionate about what they do, then you have a problem that is much bigger than marketing.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Greg in the corner (apologies to both of the Gregs that I know; random), and it doesn’t matter if they don’t really like the camera – some honesty mixed with some insight makes a very powerful cocktail. Customers lap that up. People lap that up. Isn’t it funny how your customers are also people?

Yep, all your businesses are made up of people, and they’re all selling to other people.

No matter who you are, content marketing is a no brainer. The worst you can get out of it is more search visibility across more long-tail keywords, and the best you can get out of it is massive buzz and kudos for your brand (read: reach and frequency, if you need to). For small companies with no time and no budget, content marketing is also a safe bet. It’s honest, useful, and easy to do (and there are ways to make it a perfected process).

As a small company you probably don’t have a budget for marketing. Heck, you probably don’t even have time for marketing, let alone a budget. You have to build your marketing into everything you do. That’s pretty much the best way to build a product or service – to make the marketing part of it. Treating every single customer you have with respect and dignity and attending to their individual needs and foibles is a supreme way of making a bigger business. And that’s exactly why content marketing is good for you. Serve your customers answers and personality before they’ve even asked for it. Just don’t forget them when you become a big brand.

Big or small; it’s a no-brainer. More content garners more search traffic from more keywords and equals more exposure. Great content garners fans who want to share the news, thoughts, or expertise = good old word of mouth; still the best marketing you can get (sometimes lately called “social media marketing”).

What are the risks then? You might be boring or bland (really, try not to do that). You might be just another “meee-toooo!” in a sea of other content, but how is that different to advertising? You might write like crap (but at least you’ll learn and improve as you go along). You might get laughed at (hey, at least you made someone smile!). You could appear condescending, but content that tries to be too far-reaching still attracts attention. It might take ages to get noticed and for it to be worthwhile (but as long as you’re good, and improve along the way, that will happen).

Of course, you should really take some risks, even in your content marketing. I’d love to see some ideas of when content marketing, in principle and done with the right motive, isn’t safe –  but I can’t think of any.

Content Marketing 101 by Tom Fishburne

Tom Fishburne’s “Content Marketing 101” mocks a mistake that many ‘content marketers’ are making – but at least they’re doing something.


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4 Responses to “The Risks of Content Marketing”

  1. Adam Shore says:

    Great post…..a safe post. Nice bit of content marketing for RP here too!

  2. angus says:

    >> I’d love to see some ideas of when content marketing, in principle and done with the right motive, isn’t safe.

    I am not sure the guy that parachuted from space for RedBull would consider it “safe”

    It was, nonetheless, pretty effective content marketing!


    • Gary says:

      That was a proper content stunt!

      Actually I’d guess the people that do extreme sports, and people that play a lot of poker, have a different view of risk (at least in those particular scenarios where they’re familiar and comfortable); it’s relative.

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