I sometimes wonder if the content marketing sector will have the gumption to really make a mark on the wider world of marketing. Too many of its agencies seem to spend too much of their time looking inwards not outwards.
I’ll give you one example. Just a couple of weeks ago my team was victim of a trolling attack on the iTunes store. Someone had decided to slate one of our iPad apps – concluding with the line that ‘as a client he was now going to move his business’.
Sadly for the critic, he didn’t realise that iTunes identifies the iPad that posted the observation. And even more sadly for him, the identity was a very unusual name.
Quite rapidly our client worked out the name was that of an agency boss who had pitched for the business and failed. More significantly, he was not a client of the firm and so the threat to move the business was a lie.
It all ended – much to our amusement – with the client contacting him and getting him to take the remarks down from the store.
Now I know we are not the first victim of such foul play. I remember the glee in some content marketing quarters at the negative feedback given about that pioneering app, Project. I found that baffling: at a time when we want clients to think our sector is THE answer we should be celebrating the examples that reflect well on us all.
Or again: I’ve also stood with friends after an industry meeting and commiserated about the time wasting caused when a rival decides their best new business plan is simply to pick on your output and contact your clients saying that they can do more for less.
All of the above, takes content marketing as an industry, round in ever decreasing circles, until like the Oozlum bird of my father’s bedtime stories, it risks disappearing up its own fundament.
Don’t get me wrong I’m all for healthy rivalry – I’ll pitch against any competitor with the best of them. But I won’t make a rival’s existing business the focus of my new business plan. It’s a limiting, margin eroding, negative approach that betrays a lack of strategic thinking.
There is a new world out there beyond the narrow confines of what content marketing agencies currently do that offers so much more – more variety and more in terms of long-term value to us all as businesses. By going in hunt of it – rather than focusing on rival portfolios – content marketing could truly spread its wings and become the centre stage player it should be.
By Martin MacConnol, chief executive, Wardour