“At 25 I was brilliantly clever; and I have learned nothing in the subsequent 27 years.”
This quote, from the first page of “The Unpublished David Ogilvy,” is a reference to what Forbes called “probably the best sales manual ever written.” It’s talking about Ogilvy’s thirty page guide, “The Theory Practice of Selling the Aga Cooker,” written in 1935.
As a Principal Consultant with Kapost, I have the privilege of spending time on-site with a variety of clients.
For some of them, developing a content marketing operation is an entirely new concept, while others have already taken steps to create a content-focused process. Regardless of where they fall on our content marketing maturity model, there is a common thread among all companies: Uncertainty.
Adoption of a new technology or process inherently involves anxiety for those involved.
- “What does this mean for our existing process?”
- “Is this a reorganization of the marketing department?”
- “This is going to be more work for me!”
- “I don’t want anyone messing with my work.”
- “How is this better than the way things are today?”
These are just a few of the many questions and concerns we hear. It’s our job to ease the transition, help provide clarity, and demonstrate that content marketing is still marketing.
Don’t get too worked up about that last bit. I realize this proposition generates a lot of debate. My point is that we are not introducing a new channel like social or search. What we are doing is providing a new, albeit old, approach.
A hundred years ago, marketing materials were designed to inform, educate, and address the concerns of buyers. Simply search for Ogilvy’s Aga Cooker guide noted earlier and you’ll see what I’m referring to. Over the years, we’ve gotten away from this approach by focusing more on product-led messaging about features and benefits.
Here’s the challenge with that approach: It goes against biology. It’s simply not how our brains work. The neo-cortex is the area of our brain that is rational and analytical. The limbic area is responsible for behavior and feelings, like trust and loyalty. The neo-cortex has no capacity for language or decision-making. That is all handled by the limbic area of our brains. Facts and figures don’t drive behavior, they only serve as rationale after you’ve made your decision.
Content marketing as an approach is, in essence, getting back to our roots. It’s still marketing but led with messaging strategies that are buyer-focused rather than product-focused.
So what led us to this renaissance? Buyer enablement. Technology has changed the paradigm for buying goods and services. As you’ve no doubt heard by now, 57% of the buyer’s journey is complete before contact with sales takes place. By 2020, Gartner predicts that number will be 85% of the journey.
Is this a change in the status quo? Absolutely. Is it something to be worried about? Not if you embrace it as an opportunity to get to know your customers, to understand their needs and wants, and talk to them about what matters to them.
So yes, for me—as a lifelong marketer—content marketing is marketing; just starting in a more thoughtful place that puts the customer at the heart of communication strategy. As the saying goes, “Everything old is new again.”
And frankly, I’m glad it’s back.