Today’s guest post is by Peppercomm president, Ted Birkhahn.
The content business is booming. As Kenny Bania from Seinfeld would say, “It’s gold, Jerry. Gold!”
Any marketing and communications firm worth its salt is chasing a surge in interest and demand for content work. New and old players alike are trying to position themselves as content strategists and developers. Many firms are also specializing on content circulation – i.e. making sure your content gets seen, shared, etc.
But this isn’t your grandfather’s content business.
While content has always been central to what our industry does for clients, the game and its players are dramatically changing. Audiences are demanding better content from brands; content that truly makes an impact on the topics and issues that are most important to them. It’s no longer what the brand wants to talk about, it’s what the audience is interested in and where and how they are interested in consuming it. And many business executives are shunning promotional content altogether – i.e. content that sounds like marketing speak – and are begging companies not to waste their time with information that doesn’t advance the dialogue around important business issues.
To learn more about the burgeoning world of content, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Peppercomm joined forces to conduct a survey of 500 global business executives and 500 marketers about their perceptions, habits and needs surrounding content. The overarching theme in the findings: business executives want no part of marketing content. Instead, they want content in multiple forms that add substance and value to problems their organizations are grappling with every day. They need content that enhances their company’s thinking on critical issues.
According to the survey results, executives are not getting what they need. The findings illustrate major disconnects between content marketers and the business audiences they are trying to reach and influence. A few highlights include:
• 75% of global business executives report that the primary purpose for seeking content is researching a business idea.
• Only 16% said they use content to support a purchasing decision.
• However, 75% of marketers said that mentions of their products or services are a frequent part of their content strategy.
• Global business audiences judge content on its distinctiveness, while marketers judge success on sales. 67% of business executives said that content that contained timely or unique information had a meaningful impact on their perception of a brand and 71% report that one of the primary reasons content from companies turn them off is when it seems like a sales pitch. Meanwhile, 70% of brands said they measure the effectiveness of their content by the number of calls from customers and prospects and 93% say they tie their content directly to their products and services.
Content creation is hard work. Even bad content takes time to create, which amplifies the pain when companies consistently create marketing copy and still expect meaningful ROI from their efforts.
Companies often ask us for advice on how to improve their content marketing efforts. We always start with the same thought: put yourself in the audience shoes and ask yourself if the content will enhance or detract from your company’s image and reputation.
It is time for companies to think more like publishers. Anything less will leave their audiences unfulfilled.