I’m going to start off with a quote from the “God-Father” of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi, from his book Content INC. when it comes to talking to your audience.
“This is such low-hanging fruit that I almost didn’t include it as a strategy. Asking your customers or potential readers seems like such a simple thing to do, but sadly it’s rarely done.”
I had the pleasure of talking to Joe about this not to long ago because I thought Joe was kidding in his book that people do not talk to their audience on a regular basis. Sadly, the more clients I have been working with the more I realize people truly do not talk to their audience at all!
Audiences are the most valuable asset a media company can have and for a brand looking to get in to a B2B media company to generate new leads they expect the media company there doing business with to live and breath what their audience wants.
If a media company suggests a content campaign for a client and completely misses the mark…I’d say that should result in one of the more embarrassing moments of all time.
Don’t get caught with your pants down! Talk to your audience(s)! – I’m going to be a broken record with this, I promise.
Let’s drive my point home a bit more with some cool research done on content marketers across the country.
A study was conducted recently by Heinz Marketing and On24 to better understand the state of content marketing, its wins, and its misses, a hybrid qualitative and quantitative research study in January 2019. The result is a comprehensive report exploring the successes and failures of B2B content marketing today (for the full study click here).
The study clearly states that marketers across the board are losing faith in the effectiveness of content marketing.
Here are some specifics pulled from the study curtesy of PRNewswire:
The study, which featured nearly 150 respondents representing a range of industries, found that:
Content marketing is getting stale: 63% of marketers said their content marketing strategy was either not very effective or only somewhat effective, compared to just 35% in 2017.
More content doesn't mean more results: Two-thirds of respondents said they were either not confident or only somewhat confident that their content is driving revenue results.
Conversion is key: 75% of respondents said that either lead conversion or sales opportunity conversion was the most important content engagement metric.
Spray and pray? Just 13% said they were extremely or very confident that their content was driving desired results.
Where am I going with all of this dialog about listening and talking with your audience? I question how many of these marketers in this study done by On24 and Heinze Marketing are ACTUALLY talking to their audience or just using the method of spraying and praying?
I would venture to guess that not a lot of strategy went behind the content campaigns.
Some marketers can be strapped for time and think that if a topic for a campaign worked last year or earlier in the year will work again. Theoretically, sure I get that, but that can get you in trouble with just going off of data from the past without understanding what the audience is looking at for the future and now.
On a side note, this should be a follow up study. Understanding how the campaigns and content is being developed. Is it short term? Long term? Or some other kind of goal that marketers are using content marketing for?
OK back to the task at hand…
I’m finding marketers for one reason or another are stuck thinking more tactically to hit a quick objective and moving on to the next task. That might be good for a one-shot campaign but in the long term you risk hurting what your audience truly craves when it comes to content.
For those looking for ways to talk to your audience, it can be as simple of sending a few emails just asking folks what kind of content are they looking for and when, where and how do they prefer to consume said content?
It can be even more elaborate similar to what Heinz and On24 created. Take a full dive into a state of market research study. (Pssst – this can be using as a sponsorship opportunity for you media companies out there!).
My personal favorite is having a couple of focus groups. Either in person or a video conference. You not only get the responses verbally but you can see people facial expressions as they are answered. We lose that emotional or human factor in a survey or email or phone call. Being able to read someone’s face as they respond can tell you all you need to know about a topic or strategy.
And if you ever forget what you just read in this week’s post, just remember this quote for the one and only Benjamin Franklin…
“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail”