Urgh. It’s exhausting. Day-in, day-out I spend hour-upon-hour reading marketing bluffery. And my reasons for reading it are probably different to yours. When you choose to read promotional content it’s probably because you’re looking to purchase. For me, it’s usually because I’m researching a topic for a client project, which means I’m reading what’s in the media, what the analysts are saying, what their competitors are saying… And because my reasons are different, it means I’m forced to read to the end, while you can stop any time you choose.

But that’s not the only reason it’s exhausting…

It’s so easy to jump on the bandwagon

Take a look at LinkedIn.

As you scroll through your feed, I bet you notice that the majority of the content shared is jumping on the latest bandwagon. In fact, you can predict what’s coming up a lot of the time as brands suddenly change their colours and proclaim that they’re an inclusive organisation during Pride Awareness Month, or put their female staff on a pedestal for International Women’s Day, or start shouting about their green credentials for World Environment Day…

Yes, all of these things are important, but are they pertinent to the brand?

No?

Then it’s not adding any value to the people you serve, which means that you’re seen to simply be jumping on the latest bandwagon, and people will call you on it.

Don’t believe me?

I’ve heard of some absolute horror stories during the recent heightened awareness of ‘Black Lives Matter’ where people are going to the trouble to set up social profiles with the sole purpose of proving brands wrong after they flippantly throw the hashtag around.

In the right context…

Using something topical or timely to elevate your online profile is a good idea:

For example, during World Storytelling Day or World Book Day I would happily talk about how brands can use storytelling technique to strengthen their content, or talk about how I sponsor my local school’s Reading Café. These things are inherent to my brand so they make sense and add value to my audience.

Used in the wrong context…

All you do is risk damaging the brand you’ve invested so hard to create:

For example, if I jumped on the bandwagon of Cycle to Work Day, World Photo Day or Wimbledon, they make absolutely no sense because they don’t align to my brand and therefore don’t add value, which could make my audience question if I’m the right person for them.

But even if you’re using it in the right context, you risk creating something that doesn’t deliver the return you deserve because you’re producing it in isolation:

For example, if I was to create a guide with 10 top tips for employing storytelling technique within your content, I’m sure a handful of people would find it very useful. But if I produced that guide, and then re-purposed it into a series of blogs that expanded on different elements of storytelling, sent some carefully crafted emails to people I know are interested in giving their content a bit of a boost, developing a specific landing page with great SEO so people searching for more information on storytelling technique will find it, I’m going to reach a lot more people and be able to help a lot more people.

And this is why I’m so tired of marketing fluff…

It’s boring to read because it doesn’t speak to the audience.

It’s not properly thought through and therefore doesn’t align to the brand.

It’s produced in isolation rather than as part of a wider campaign to create momentum.

And ultimately…

It’s wasting time, money and effort

I work with small businesses and startups, where every penny matters. To know that they’ve wasted their time producing something that won’t deliver a decent result, when they could have spent that time taking care of their customers, makes me sad. To know that they potentially paid someone to produce such rubbish on their behalf, makes me angry.

It’s making sales sceptical

We all know that sales and marketing are supposed to be aligned. But a lot of the time, they’re completely separate functions, working independently of each other. Sales is out winning the big deals, while marketing sits doing its fluffy thing.

The reality is that marketing should be building the pipeline, which the sales team then convert and closes.

But while marketing is focused on the fluff, it can’t build a quality pipeline, which is why when they pass leads across, the sales team is disappointed. Over time, this happens again and again, which is when sales and the leadership team start to get cynical about the value that marketing adds to the business. It starts to become a headache. And then bad things happen.

When done well, marketing enables the business to achieve its objectives

When your business strategy says you want to hit £5m turnover, marketing should be able to work that back to know how many leads they need to feed into the pipeline for sales to eventually convert into clients, and then know what mix of marketing tactics to employ to hit those numbers.

If you’re serious about building the brand awareness and pipeline that enables you to achieve the business plan, sales and marketing must work together with a properly planned out approach to pipeline.

So what does a ‘properly planned out approach to pipeline’ actually look like?

Your sales team are out and about talking to customers every day. And your marketing team is constantly monitoring what’s happening in the market – reading what the media is saying, what the analysts are forecasting, what your competitors are doing…

Blending all this wonderful insight into a rich piece of thought leadership content, like a white paper, report or guide, gives you something of value to offer your audience, which aligns to your brand and what the company needs to do to achieve its strategy.

Marketing can then take this piece of content and use it as a central piece in their lead generation campaign.

Working backwards, they can re-purpose parts into a series of blogs, that all drive to this rich, meaty asset, which help you to be found online and raise awareness of the value you have to offer.

They can then create a series of emails and/or social media snippets that drive people to read the blogs.

You could even pull out a case study, which in itself is an incredibly valuable asset. And then use this to gain traction in the media.

Read more about mapping content requirements to the sales cycle…

At each stage, you’re using content to qualify the lead, identify the opportunity and convert the prospect down the sales funnel.

Changing the face of marketing

As an ex-marketer, I feel it’s my responsibility to change the way marketing is perceived within the organisation by enabling it to deliver greater value and better results to the business. Yes, as a copywriter I’m biased, but there’s a reason I chose to follow a path of words and it’s because copy is about more than words – copy encapsulates everything about your brand, the products/services you offer and the value you add, all delivered in a way that makes the reader want to take action.

Are you tired of marketing fluff too?

Then take a look at this page and download your copy of ‘The Little Book of…Thought Leadership Content’.