Is Content Marketing Just the Same Old Marketing?

3 minute read
Gerry McGovern avatar

Most marketing content doesn’t work because marketers don’t understand customers.

Eighty to 90 percent of marketing collateral plays no useful role in the selling process, according to Andy Markowitz from Lead Performance Marketing Lab at GE. Sales people spend 30 hours per month searching for and creating their own selling materials, according to the American Marketing Association. Markowitz also states that:

  • 70% of the Business–to-Business (B2B) buying process is completed before a buyer is willing to speak to Sales
  • 63% of companies think their sales and marketing teams are misaligned on what customers want and need
  • 18 to 24 percent of leads are contributed by Marketing

Why is marketing content so out of touch with reality? According to Tom Evans, from CompwellingPM it’s because “marketing sits in an ivory tower and creates a promotional potpourri of sweet smelling stuff that is appealing to them.” Marketing does often seem to exist within its own happy clappy shiny people universe.

Marketers can be quite delusional. In a survey by Kitewheel, 73 percent of consumers felt that the purpose of a loyalty program is for brands to reward loyal consumers. On the other hand, 66 percent of marketers surveyed surreally believed loyalty programs are a way for consumers to show loyalty to brands. A 2015 study by Experticity found that marketers and customers think in diametrically opposite ways. Do most marketers live in a delusional bubble of branding hype?

Eighty-eight percent of B2B executives go online to research purchase decisions, according to a 2014 Chief Marketing Officer Council survey, but only 9 percent trust the content they find on vendor’s websites. Executives’ number one complaint about marketing content, according to The Economist Group, is that it’s just not useful. Too much waffle, too little detail. Comes across like an empty-headed branding splurge.

And yet more and more executives are going online to make purchase decisions — they’re just avoiding the marketing. By 2020, one million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to online, according to Forrester. At some point, someone’s going to start asking some hard questions such as: Just how exactly does marketing add value?

Because in an increasing number of situations, it’s unclear where the value of marketing and advertising lies, but it’s perfectly clear where they destroy value through annoying the hell out of people.

Learning Opportunities

Organizations in general publish far too much of ego, vanity content that’s high on hyperbole and low on information. I know of numerous situations where when we deleted up to 90 percent of the content on a website, sales went up.

And yet there seems to be no end to the marketing content that is flooding the Web. It obviously keeps people in jobs, but I wouldn’t feel so secure about a job whose value is so hard to defend.

Big data is beginning to shine a big, hard, cold light on the 'magic’ of marketing and advertising. But the traditional marketers and advertisers scream: "Don’t focus on the data, because if you do, you lose the ‘creativity.’" What creativity? "Oh, look how we’ve enhanced the brand experience," they say.

Brands have always been more about magic than reality, and the magic is wearing off. A Harvard Business Review article found that sometime around 2007, customers became more valuable than brands. Which is how it should be. This is the age of the customer and marketing needs to get to know real customers rather than the customers who exist within happy clappy land.

About the author

Gerry McGovern

Gerry McGovern is the founder and CEO of Customer Carewords. He is widely regarded as the worldwide authority on increasing web satisfaction by managing customer tasks.