Friday, July 24, 2015

Shoddy Content Can Only Fail

Introduced in 1813, shoddy is a cheap woolen cloth made from recycled rags. Victorian-era manufacturers used it to make low-end clothing.

Civil War soldiers—whose shoddy uniforms would disintegrate after only days—are responsible for our use of the word to mean cheap workmanship.

By flocking to shoddy content, today's marketers are trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

But it won't work, says Jeff Rosenblum, a columnist for Ad Age.

A marketing movement is underway to deluge customers with shoddy content—a movement that gives Rosenblum deja vu.

"I'm getting nasty flashbacks to the early days of banner ads," he writes. 

"When banner ads first came out, the marketing industry treated them like rebranded laundry detergent'new and improved!' So, we shifted a bunch of dollars online and used half-baked data to prove it worked. Until, of course, we realized it didn't."

Banner ads bombed because marketers didn't grasp their value.

"The same will be true of content if we don't apply the lessons we learned. If we simply develop content because we think it's new, improved, quicker and easier than previous tactics, we're doomed to get the same disappointing results that we got from banner ads."

Content works, Rosenblum says, when it's understood:

  • Content improves brand perceptions. "Great content shows customers why a brand is different and better than the competition. It creates evangelists that carry the brand message more effectively than paid media ever could," Rosenblum says.
  • Content empowers customers. The premise is straightforward: customers give you their time; you give them useful information. "It's easy to create a social post with a cute kitten and generate a bunch of social shares, but that doesn't do anything for the brand in the long run."
  • Content is more than clicks. Marketers need to measure more than likes and shares. "You need to understand how well the audience understands what makes the brand different and better. You need to understand what, specifically, shifts them down the sales funnel and generates revenue."
  • Content isn't cheap. "Too often, brands spend countless hours talking about the power of social media, but spend an infinitesimal amount of their overall budget creating content."
"Unlike banner ads, content marketing can fundamentally alter the future of a brand. But it won't be quick and it won't be easy," Rosenblum concludes.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald once told a would-be writer, "Nothing any good isn't hard."
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