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Content Marketing Sucks

stopDear Reader,

I have a confession, I am a marketer. I have been involved in Content Marketing campaigns. I’m sorry.

Content Marketing is the worst thing to happen to the web since banner ads. Before I ramp up this tirade into full-on rant, let me define exactly what I am talking about.

A Content Marketing campaign is an attempt by marketers to create relevant content for the audience they are trying to reach. Marketers have “Persona Profiles”; cheat sheets that describe who their audience members are.  For example:

  • Al Neuman – CEO
  • Al Jaffee – VP of IT
  • Sergio Aragones – Developer Manager
  • Don Martin – PHP Developer
  • etc.

Good marketing departments work up complex profiles describing these people. They interview current customers and use the answers to build a composite. There is nothing wrong with any of this, this is good marketing. The problem is that in some shops, what comes next is not good marketing.

In shops that do not understand, what happens next is a brainstorming session. In this session, marketers sit around and think up ideas for articles that they think will be of interest to these people. The idea is simple, if you can get them to visit your site to read an article, they may stick around and look at your product. If nothing else, if they keep seeing articles from your blog crossing their twitter/facebook/whatever stream, they will begin to think of you as an authority. This is content marketing.

Do you see the problem here?

Marketers think up the articles. 

When it comes to companies trying to attract the attention of developers, this means that interns and art directors alike are trying to put themselves in your shoes and figure out articles that you might like.

The end result invariably is content that absolutely no developer is ever interested in. I will not link to examples of this behavior, my goal is not to embarrass anyone. You know them though, you see them every day and rarely do you click on them. As developers, we can usually sense link-bait from a long way away.

I will however, call out 3 examples of content marketing done right. You know it is done right because it isn’t content marketing, it is just useful content.

Each of these – yes, there is one in there from me – is a great example of content marketing. Why? Because it’s not marketing at all, it’s helpful information that developers can use. Articles like that help the companies that post them because developer start to trust them. They build “thought leadership”. They show that the company that posed it is interested in helping developers first, then showing them what they have to offer.

Content Marketing sucks. If that is what you are doing, stop, you are just filling up Google with useless bits. Focus your energy on writing something that will actually help someone.

Until next time,
I <3 |<


Photo Credit: Stop Sign by Bridget AMES

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