It’s the Content, Stupid

Decision-makers need to see a reason to engage your expertise. Is your marketing missing something?

It’s easy to get caught up in the social media hysteria and believe everything you learned about marketing is obsolete.  We heard a similar line a decade ago, when e-commerce and e-everything were going to Amazon every bricks-and-mortar business out of business.  I think Wal-Mart is still in business, last time I checked.  And Barnes & Noble.  And CBS, Disney and HBO. And many other old-school “dinosaurs” that “just don’t get it.”

While we believe the practice of marketing is fundamentally changing because of the Internet, we know some practices will never change because they are at the core of what motivates a buyer to buy.  And one of them is the need for a compelling reason, clearly communicated.

What does this have to do with thought leadership marketing?  Everything.  We see all sorts of soothsayers urging professional services firms to start tweeting, blogging, Facebooking and LinkingIn. But we don’t see any talking about having something substantive to say.

So we’ll say it.  If you don’t have a point of view that is new and substantiated with examples (something executives refer to as “proof”), you can tweet about it all you want but buyers will ignore you.  As they should.  Creating great content – powerful points of view backed by irrefutable evidence – is far more important than being adroit with Facebook.

It’s great to see professional firms that get it.  Recent research from ITSMA, whose followers hail from the IT services sector, shows IT services firms now see the value of great content.  They said “thought leadership development” was more important to their marketing strategy than any other tactic this year.  In fact, they rated it more important than online video, social networks, and online communities.

What puzzles me is why so many overlook the need for great content.  Is it that marketing is a more interesting topic than content development?  That style trumps substance in marketing circles? (Don’t take that harshly.)

I’d love to hear some good rationales.

Originally published 03/05/2010

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