The Long and Winding Road: Trending times…

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Recently I saw an article telling me about trends in the new promised land of ‘content
marketing’, “Nothing earth shattering in that!” I hear you say.

To be honest, there is nothing earth shattering in an article about trends, yet if we stop and
think about it for a moment ….it should be!

We are living witness to the most phenomenal technological and mass communication
explosion since the industrial revolution, we are not only witnessing it, we are living it,
working it , shaping it and earning money from it yet for some strange reason many of us just
don’t get the message. Perhaps we are all too immersed in global financial hard luck stories;
perhaps we are overwhelmed by the plethora of online universe advances day after day after

As I write this, I am in the UK, Liverpool to be exact, home of another explosive world
phenomena in the 1960s called The Beatles. To some degree we can draw some analogies
from those days for today. The sixties ‘Merseybeat’ influence on music was so profound that
the music we listen to today is heavily influenced and shaped by those 4 mop haired lads
from a small northern English port and many more just like them from the same few square

Why was that? Maybe it was because they had the courage (some say naivety) to think that
the way they understood the tools they had around them was better than the way they had
been used before.

Maybe it was because they were able to resonate with their audience at a primal level and
engage them so profoundly that nothing before it measured up in any way shape or form.

Maybe they just were confident enough to ask ‘why not?’ and brave enough not to care if
they failed. The fans understood long before the record company bosses understood.

Fast forward to today, we too are being offered many versions of the same product in our
online world, we too are comfortable in our ways and expectations….yet there is something
out there that we have heard of but don’t quite understand yet, we think it should be
wonderful and that we should try it but we cannot bring ourselves to have a go…exactly, it
is ‘content marketing’ at least ‘content marketing’ done properly.

Just like the 1960 record company bosses, we throw good money after bad trying to redress
our existing marketing online to have the look and feel of the real thing; after all it doesn’t
have to be too good does it?

Do we really think that putting up new pictures and updating the online catalogue is content
marketing? Come on…please!

Spending money on those activities is a complete waste of time; it didn’t work the first time
around, so why will it work now?

So, YES my friends it does have to be good, in fact it has to be better than good, it has to be
beyond anything we have done before.

Who cares if we can show that the spending for content marketing online is growing year
on year in all sectors of business?….at some point it will come to a shuddering halt if what
we produce is banal and uninspiring, in short we are in danger of producing what our record
company bosses would term a ‘one hit wonder’.

The trends at the moment show that even though companies are spending money on
content marketing at increasingly higher levels they are NOT spending time structuring
the long term planning needed to develop the content effectively to ‘do’ content marketing
properly…in short they are window dressing, and as we know window displays are only
good for a short time before they become an irritant. Sadly, we see the growing number of
companies saying they spend more and ‘have’ content marketing at the heart of their online
strategy (I use the word strategy in the same way the Queen uses ‘we’) yet the vast majority
do not update their content regularly, do not engage in conversations and waste so much
valuable time and money ‘selling to the customer’.

FAIL……the online customer does not want to be sold to , they want to have a conversation,
they want to be informed and they want to contribute…they do not want to be tracked,
targeted and ignored, which sadly in many cases they are.

The real crime in all this is that of those companies who have started to attempt content
marketing many have pointed to poor ROI and customer interest as a reason not to continue
with it. They blame the customer for it not working, they come out with platitudes like ‘we find
that our customers are not ready to engage with us this way yet, we need to wait for them to
be more familiar with the online business world’ blah blah blah …how utterly patronising!

Amazing to think that the very same people who lead the first assault on online marketing by
producing stale catalogue style boredom now believe that they understand what to do next!

Wake up 1950s ‘skiffle’ band manager…your customers are desperate to hear The Beatles
and if you don’t take them to the Cavern Club they will find somebody who will.

See you on the long a winding road……Patrick


Patrick Reade is 3rd Planet Media’s indispensable man in UK.

Blogs: Bibliothèque | Vidiothèque | Audio Prodcast

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