3 ways marketers suffer from ‘delusions of brandeur’ in content marketing

Fergus Stoddart

Fergus is the founder and commercial director for Edge, the independent strategic content marketing agency. As the original founder of Edge in 2003, Fergus is a recognised thought leader on content marketing. He has a wealth of experience and has spent a decade devising and launching customer engagement strategies for many blue chip companies and brands. Edge's clients include Woolworths, Volkswagen, Westpac, Australia Post and Foxtel.

Content marketing has moved from being a specialised niche for hipsters and nerds to being mainstream, even de rigueur. All kinds of brands are waking up to the possibilities offered by content marketing and grabbing a piece of the action.

But before you leap into the fray, take note there are three delusions marketers tell themselves about content marketing. We call them ‘delusions of brandeur’.

1. ‘Let’s build a community’

Several marketers are convinced that if they establish a content marketing program, a grateful community will naturally form around the brand – the ‘if we build it they will come’ principle. The idea is like-minded people who use product X will find each other and happily engage in conversations about product X.

Thing is, it’s not that simple. Building a community around a brand requires you to go beyond your tangible products and services and focus instead on values. For instance think about Red Bull. Red Bull fans don’t generally come together to speak about the energy drink instead they engage around the values and brand story Red Bull has created, which speaks of extreme sports and experiences.

To do this successfully, you really need to understand your brand’s white space and explore not just how it is unique in the market, in terms of target audiences, product offerings, price and so on, but also how your brand sets itself apart.

2. ‘Our followers want to know all about us’

One of the objectives of content marketing is to humanise the brand and bring it closer to people. But people don’t want to be best friends with the folks who make product X. Generally speaking, they are not dying to hear your back story and hilarious anecdotes of the goings-on at HQ.

The trick is to understand your target audience and know what content will provide value and establish a connection with them. This could be useful tips and information, discounts and freebies, competitions or expert advice.

Getting this right requires a robust content strategy incorporating specific objectives, target audience and your brand story which will guide the type of content that will be successful.

3. ‘Everyone’s doing it’

This one is driven by the fear of missing out (FOMO). If your competitors are doing content marketing, then you better do it as well. This means your motivation is nothing more strategic than a fear of being left behind. And that can lead to a content marketing strategy that is really about promoting and selling – old-style marketing dressed up as new marketing.

But people only have so much time and brain capacity to keep up with all the content available to them. If you don’t have something special to offer them, why should they bother with you? If your underlying motive is to push your stuff, then people will know. They will know that it’s about you and not them.

Poorly executed content marketing is like watching your dad dancing to Get Lucky. It’s naff and wrong. Content marketing succeeds when it’s about delivering something valuable for the end-user. It’s about a strongly conceived strategy based on your customer’s needs – not yours to meet your KPIs.

The game-changing power of content marketing comes from resonant storytelling or life-enhancing tips, useful information or plain old entertainment. By identifying the white space around your user and focusing on what they need, you can find the inspiration for content that will set you apart from all the other dads on the dance floor.

Don’t be deluded that it’s about anything else.

Tags: content marketing, brand strategy

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