Much of what communications and marketing professionals were trained for is not just redundant but in fact counterproductive.
“90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone,” according to IBM. “In 2003, there were 300,000 unique ISBN book numbers published in the United States,” states Brad Frost. By 2012, the number was 15 million. How are you, as a communications or marketing professional, going to get attention in this Big Bang of Big Data?
Communications and marketers are trained to get attention by creating content. But the more content there is the less attention there is. The more free content there is the more expensive attention becomes.
Today, a great deal of online activity begins with a search. If you use a search engine then you know what you want. It is almost impossible to get the attention of the person who searches for “cheap flights dublin” by anything other than information about cheap flights to Dublin. When was the last time you searched for “cheap flights dublin” and ended up buying attic insulation? And when was the last time you went to Google and searched for “anything interesting out there” or “I’m bored. Show me something new.”?
The vast majority of people who go online know what they want. What is the role of the marketer or communicator in relation to these people? Unfortunately, the role is often to distract and confuse them with new stuff the organization thinks the customer should know about. If marketers and communicators don’t start focusing on the “old” -- what most people actually want to do -- then as the importance of online grows, the importance of marketing and communications will decline.
Driven by an ill-advised content focus, marketers and communicators are producing huge quantities of fresh content news and articles. This may indeed deliver short-term traffic boosts. But today’s news is tomorrow’s clutter. Websites are becoming harder and harder to navigate and search because there is so much stuff on them. Customers are finding it harder and harder to buy and complete tasks because they end up on these "getting attention" content pages, whereas they were trying to find the homepage for product X. It’s a content arms race in which the customer and organization lose.
Invariably, when we delete 90% of an organization’s website, sales go up dramatically, customer support requests go down and overall customer satisfaction goes up. Think about that. How much did this 90% of content cost to produce? And not only is it not creating value, it’s getting in the way of value creation. This content is in fact destroying value.
This is the age of the customer, not the age of content. Those who will succeed will relentlessly focus on helping customers complete tasks and be successful. In the Big Bang of Big Data, we need far more customer service professionals and far less content producers. We need more information architects and professionals who understand online customer behavior. We need a much greater focus on supporting and helping rather than telling and selling.