I was speaking with a CFO this week about his organization’s content marketing strategies and the role of social media, as his impressions of Social Media in marketing was that it has little to no business impact.
He cited some Gallup statistics from a recent Wall Street Journal article as proof points for his belief that it’s not all that it is cracked up to be:
Are the numbers wrong? I don’t think so. At a glance, many might be quick to agree with this CFO, that Social Media is ineffective with regard to having direct business impact. Perhaps there is a different explanation for the numbers.
The Problem isn’t Social Media…
Simply looking at the first statistic cited above starts to hint at the problem when we consider why 94% of people [not consumers], use social media.
If 94% of people use Social Media to connect with family and friends, are marketers using Social consistent with people’s usage?
Both, Marketing and Sales have been guilty of looking at these huge pools of people in social arenas as prospects, and leading with their products and/or solutions in highly intrusive and interruptive ways. This problem isn’t limited just to Social Media.
Bumper Sticker Marketing
When we look at our content marketing strategy as a whole (inclusive of print, online, mobile, social, etc.), we have a specific ‘end’ in mind – drive a profitable customer action. But too often, we start with our own end in mind…“drive a profitable customer action”…rather than starting with your target audience’s end in mind.
I call this bumper sticker marketing. Similar to the picture above, we shout our own point of view, trying to call attention to ourselves, our products, solutions, etc., irrespective of what the end-user really wants or needs.
Furthermore, similar to bumper stickers, our marketing too often is a one way “push” message, that fails to truly engage with others. As a result, Marketers fall into the trap of heeding partial advice from content strategists, by delivering content more frequently and consistently. Frequency and consistency is the easy part.
The more difficult [but responsible] purpose of content marketing, according to Joe Pulizzi, is described as follows:
Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior.
A few key words to pay attention to in his description are, relevant, valuable, and changing or enhancing…behavior.
Food for Thought…
When was the last time you read a bumper sticker and subsequently changed your behaviors or beliefs as a result of reading the sticker? For example, when you see the mini-van proclaiming, “My child is an Honor Student,” do you believe your child is inferior? Of course not. Similarly, do bumper-stickers change your:
- Political affiliations or votes?
- Religious beliefs?
- Moral convictions?
Probably not. That said, how might this apply to your own marketing approach? Are you trying to change someone’s beliefs or behaviors through one-way marketing?
We ALL are susceptible to being a bumper sticker marketer, unless we are intentional in determining who we are bringing value to in our marketing. Change your aim to change your results.
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Jeff Michaels is a Sales & Marketing Executive that has worked with executives, leaders, & teams for 25 years to create repeatable success regardless of industry, economy or circumstance.