I’ve been on a mission lately to raise awareness among marketers of the difference between good and bad content. Like any new toy, now that the dust is settling on the content marketing thing a few people are getting to grips with questions like “what makes content good or bad?” or simply whether it works at all and it’s no surprise to discover that its just like anything else. Good content works and bad or even just mediocre content is nothing more than a drain of your resources and can actually do you harm.

However, I discovered that even when I’ve sat with some people and feel they’ve “got it” they go off and make the same mistakes again. It seems some of us just can’t connect brand attributes with the kind of actions that represent supportive content. Maybe it’s just a personal thing. Let’s face it, some people are just socially inept and if they don’t have the sensitivity to manage their personal relationships we can’t really expect them to manage their “brandships”, which are after all, just the same thing

My thoughts go back to numerous conversations I had with a particular company CEO in recent years. He nodded a lot, but simply had a disconnect between brand theory and the understanding of how content represents the values and beliefs inherent in any brand. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. His personal life was a shambles and I guess this could be as good an indicator as any. With this human weakness in mind I incorporated into my Brand Discovery programme a device that my clients can use once their brand is defined, to help them differentiate between initiatives that support or reinforce its values and promise and those that don’t. This is one of the keys in the broader operation of the business to achieving the efficiency that, more than ever, defines successful organisations these days

However, there are businesses that really get it, one of which, it seems, is Aussie TV franchise “Selling Houses”. With entrepreneurialism that revives your faith in programme makers, Selling Houses has differentiated itself from the plethora of increasingly bland home make-over shows around the world by partnering with relevant brands representing the products they use in their transformations. It leaves you wondering why so few shows like this have adopted such an obvious idea.

The reverse side of this arrangement is priceless content that can only enhance the value of the sponsors’ brands and provides them with endless opportunity for extensions into other areas of brand enhancing communication – brilliant!  I love he way that Taubmanns the paint company in particular get their name on screen each time the interior designer explains the colours and finishes she uses, the Volvo car the presenter uses is everywhere, the blind company is featured in the very best light. This is content worth having for any consumer-facing business, but you could achieve the same kind of impact with a bit of imagination for BtoB too.

So, don’t tell me that content marketing doesn’t work. If you’ve tried it and you are still thinking that way then it’s a safe bet that you didn’t get it right. Then again, judging from the comments I get in my mailbox a lot of marketers are still struggling with the concept of brand character and how that translates into content.

Phil Darby
March 17, 2015

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