Content Marketing Idiocracy

CatGif.gifI’m watching a cat eat a bowl full of Crispix, seemingly left on a kitchen table. Every few seconds the cat startles, and bats at the wide stem of a silver spoon resting in the bowl when it catches its own reflection.

Sounds like a couple of kids are giggling in the background, but when the cat whacks the spoon out of the bowl, and it flips milk and Crispix all over, explosive laughter erupts. The camera jitters. The video ends.

This is one of the many social media marketing updates for an eyewear company. A local brick and mortar shop that sells glasses and frames.

“It’s ‘content marketing,’ my student assures me, as if I might be too old, or teaching too long to know. “It’s how marketing is done today. We don’t sell anymore” (and she says the word ‘sell’ like it’s evil), “we brand now.”

“For Views and Impressions.” I’ll play, get on her train, and lead her to the truth slowly.

“That’s right,” she says brightly, as if she’s just taught me something profound. “The more Views, the more exposure! That’s how it works.”

“And how long have you been putting up videos like this, with no relationship to eyewear whatsoever?”

“Oh, like 9 months now, since I started working for the company. I do all their social marketing. It’s why I’m taking this class. To become a better copywriter.”

“And in the 9 months you’ve been posting these types of videos, have you seen an increase in sales at the store?”

She pauses. “Well, not yet. But we get Likes and Shares all the time. Look.” And she pulls up her company’s website on her cell and shows me their blog(ish) page where she posts.

Thumbnail squares of row upon row of videos, showing everything from water skiing to dog’s surfing, but few are wearing glasses, even sunglasses. Under each square is the Like and Share counts, and most are between 20 – 40 combined. She smiles with pride.

“And, just out of curiosity, have you noticed an increase in floor traffic at your store since you’ve been content marketing for your company?”

“Well, I’m not sure. Maybe a bit more.”

Hmm…9 months content marketing with little to no ROI. And the floor traffic increase, if there was any, could easily be accounted for with the start of summer and sunglasses sales.

The original notion of content marketing is essentially using storytelling to entertain, which is supposed to build brand awareness.

Content is King,” Bill Gates wrote in an essay in 1996, about the explosive growth of internet content to come. He was NOT talking about the bastardization of what content marketing has become today. Mr. Gates was referring to the CONTENT of the offering, as in a movie, or video game, news or magazine site— any online creation of content as the product/service.

I expect societies will see intense competition-and ample failure as well as success-in all categories of popular content-not just software and news, but also games, entertainment, sports programming, directories, classified advertising, and on-line communities devoted to major interests.” Bill Gates, 1996

Bill was NOT telling young admins doing the SMM for employers too cheap to hire marketing pros that cat videos are effective content marketing for anyone, except businesses selling cat supplies, and possibly Crispix cereal, with the video my student showed me in class.

Now, there is nothing wrong with entertaining storytelling to, yes, I’m going to say it… Ready?… SELL.

MARKETING IS SELLING.

Directly or indirectly (branding), ALL marketing tools and materials, both off and online, should be produced to SELL products, services, messages.

I’m not saying go out and SELL, SELL, SELL, with CLICK HERE, BUY NOW buttons. Entertaining (funny, dramatic, shocking, whatever) ads and commercials, meant to brand,have been around WAY before the internet. Memorable commercials sell something about the product or service offered.

In the 17 second cat video clip there were no glasses anywhere. Using content marketingvideos, like the one my student produced as a SMM and SEO tool, hasn’t, and likely won’t sell eyeglasses, unless the cat was wearing them, which it wasn’t. For all the time and effort to produce, edit, and social network that video, viewers will probably only recall the cat flipping the spoon filled with milk and Crispix out of the bowl. Not very good ROI on TIME alone, regardless that it was free to stick online, and got a lot of Likes, oh, and Shares.

Want to effectively BRAND your company?

Produce marketing content (imagery and copy) that always SELLS features of your offering that provide a benefit (solution, knowledge) for specific people (in an entertaining way), to brand* and SELL.

*Branding is a method of marketing. And MARKETING IS SELLING. Don’t forget!

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