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There is a content marketing crisis happening right now. Marsha Lindsay, of BrandWorks University, visited EffWeek 2017 from the States. She presented some scary findings from a new study, and some helpful strategies to overcome the challenges.

Watch Marsha’s full presentation here. We will be adding her slides for you to download soon.

Key Learnings

Find out:

Why growth has become the most important metric for marketers
Why most content marketing is not driving growth
Seven recommendations for actions that marketers can take to overcome the crisis in content marketing


Why growth is now the most important metric for marketers

The imperative to grow is bigger than ever and there are a number of reasons for this:

  • Since the great recession, there has been slow to no growth, emphasising the need for it
  • Growth faster than competitors is now the performance metric sought by C-Suites. Although most companies still use growth and revenue as a metric, over 50% also use velocity of growth. Because when you grow faster than other brands or even categories investment, talent and buzz follow you. Reflecting this, the CMO title is starting to be replaced by Chief Growth Officer on boards.


Why most content marketing is not driving growth

There are a number of issues facing content marketing that are hobbling its ability to support growth:

  • Unclear definitions (timecode 4.00) The definition of content and content marketing has become so broad as to be meaningless. That means it becomes very difficult to find a principle about what works.
  • Too many content providers (timecode 5.37) Because of the buzz around content everyone has started doing it. This has led to an exponential growth in content production. We have more content purveyors than ever before. Traditional brands are putting out more content on more platforms. The Netflix and Amazon’s of the world are producing new content. Algorithms are producing content.
  • Consumers are making content (timecode 8.23) Consumers themselves are adding to the din. Everyone with a smartphone has their own content studio. Smart connected devices are all putting out content of a sort
  • Output is up, engagement is down (timecode 9.28) There are lots of stats about how much is out there, but this is the most stunning stat of all: Output per brand per channel up is 35% per year. Content engagement is down 17% per channel per year. People are engaging less – there’s just too much
  • People are turning off (timecode 10.30) It’s harder to engage people. The popular strategies to deal with this,  for example GPS pings are making things worse. A Horizon media study showed a dramatic uptick in people disconnecting from their devices
  • Dangerous content (timecode 11.53) Another problem is fake or threatening content making people cautious

 IIlustration with the words "Speak the language of the boardroom


Seven recommendations for actions that marketers can take to overcome the crisis in content marketing

1. Don’t put all your eggs in the content marketing box

(timecode 15.40) You need a mix. Traditional media is far from dead because you still have to reach non-users. Think reach not narrow

2. Ban from your use terms like content and content marketing

(timecode 19.00) They are too broadly defined. Try comparing them to definitions of marketing communications ten years ago. You will find they are exactly the same, but just replace the word communications with content.

3. Own signature conversations

(timecode 21.53) If velocity is important, nothing moves faster than a conversation. Signature conversations are the things that break through the clutter. People communicate with them because they see in them themselves what they aspire to be. Fuel engagement in your signature conversation with questions. Dove is an example of a brand which managed to ask the quintessential question of their category, with a huge positive effect on growth.

4. Dimensionalise your conversation

(timecode 26:24) A one-dimensional conversation is like websites 10-15 years ago. Today most websites and blogs are 2D conversations, but we need to move to 3D and 4D conversations. VR and AR could play a huge part in this. Watch the video for some examples.

5. Treat content as a product

(timecode 28.35) Treat the content you are creating as you would a product you are launching, scaling and selling for a profit. Our services are just artefacts, mementoes of our content.

6. Use marketing strategies proven to drive growth, not other metrics

7. Promote marketing upstream

(timecode 33.40) Excel at marketing marketing upstairs in organisations Even if we know what works we won’t get to do it unless the folks upstairs get it.

Related content

Read the CMA’s report into the effective measurement of content marketing

Read an article on the challenges of content marketing from Clare Hill, former Managing Director of the CMA and Director of Marketing and Brand at Cannes Lions

“Just what the industry needs, great collaboration between clients and agencies on the topics that drive business growth.”

Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at AMV BBDO

“It’s great to see the IPA in the UK bring the whole industry and particularly the trade bodies together to focus on effectiveness. This new Marketing Effectiveness initiative will enable people across the industry to work together to build on best practice.”

David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer, RBS

“Effectiveness is a team sport, so it was great to see the industry in the widest sense, come together. In an increasingly diverse and fragmented world, only by using all parts of the brain will we solve effectiveness challenges and design our campaigns to deliver short and long term value. That’s why what happens next is important – if the IPA can help facilitate progress on this with a long-term initiative around Marketing Effectiveness, we’ll definitely crack it.”

Bart Michels, Global CEO Kantar Added Value and Country Leader Kantar UK

“The time spent at #EffWeek was extraordinarily effective. It was great to hear the diverse views from all areas of the industry. All tied together with the common themes of accountability and effectiveness.”

Andrew Canter, Global CEO, BCMA

“It has been a privilege to be part of the inaugural Effectiveness Week. The agenda is one which we at O2 UK feel passionately about. To see and hear perspectives across the industry demonstrates how the breadth of marketing effectiveness is increasingly being valued within businesses. Data, insight, social, customer experience, test and learn, ROI, these are all fundamentals and were covered expansively at the event”.

Sandra Fazackerley, Marketing & Consumer, Telefónica UK Limited

“The full week of effectiveness events brought into clear focus the need for marketers to use data and insight to achieve the key business objectives of growth and profits. Marketers today are in a better position to quantify their knowledge of customers and measure the ability of investments in marketing to increase brand and shareholder value.”

Chris Combemale, Group CEO, DMA