Taking the Marketing out of Content Marketing | Echo Chamber

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Welcome to The Echo Chamber where James, Dan, and Benji throw in their 2 cents on what B2B marketers are talking about on the internet. Today we're talking about the evolution of content marketing and why it's time to focus more on the content and maybe less on the marketing.  

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Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is B two B Growth. Welcome to the echo Chamber here on B two B Growth, where we throw in our two cents on what B two B marketers are talking about on the Internet. I'm Dan and I'm joined today with Benji and James, and I wanted to dive into a fun little story of something that came in through my personal email inbox today that I thought was worth chatting about here on the echo Chamber. UM. I have a little personal blog at dan Chays dot com and it gets, you know, gets a modest amount of traffic. I blog. I experiment with s c O there, so I get ten K people coming through on my blog and naturally, with just enough rankings, people pitch me and they send me emails. They're like hey, and it's usually from companies I've never heard of their international right. They're trying to get some links to their website and they're saying, hey, we like this article on your side, could you please link to our tool at our tool to your list. And if you have any pages that rank on your website, you're probably getting emailed about these things too. But one came by my inbox just last week from a company that everybody listening to this knows. It's a massive company in the email marketing space. I won't say which one, since there's lots of them, but it's a big one. And honestly, they sent me one of these outreach requests asking that I linked to on my post about to their post abound vlogging, that thing the YouTubers are doing. It was a topic that I explored when I was first starting to get into ranking for s C. I was trying to rank for terms around vlogging and video studios and all that. And the funny part was I went over to it to check out their article that I was supposed to link to, and it was horrible. It was such a bad article. Like you read it and you...

...can get a sense immediately that the person who wrote the article has never actually picked up a video camera. And that might be a bit of an overexaggeration because we all kind of cameras floating around, but I'm like, it's clearly obvious that on this massive website blog, that this article was written by somebody who only spent a few hours researching the topic throw together a two thousand word article and had multiple points in the article things that were actually bad advice, points that were inaccurate. How twos on things that were completely irrelevant to vloggers, like oh, you need a good logo was a recommendation. I'm like for a vlog No, like it doesn't hurt, but like, why is there a major section on a logo like things like this? And I want to throw it off here in the echo chamber because it's kind of a symbol of what's going on in the content marketing world today. So, James Benji, what do you think about this approach as large company took Well, I was talking to Benji about this yesterday we're preving for this episode, and yeah, I just think it's it's sad, but it also it makes sense. And because of this kind of iconic brand that everybody knows, we've talked about them on the show before, you're one of the biggest organizations in the world. And if they're doing this, then they're essentially co signing for this awful strategy of just taking an amalgamation of whatever is on the top page of the sert for this keyword and boiling it into a post where they clearly have they don't have a differentiated point of view. They don't know the first thing about this thing. And so if an organization that size, with that much brand cashe is doing this, it makes sense why so many other companies are doing it, because it's like, oh, well, it must be working because...

...it's working for them, and so everyone ends up following it, and then we just have what we have today, which is just a mess of commodity content and and and it is resulting in a lot of people crapping on s c O because you google something and all you see is this commodity crap instead of talking about the enormous opportunity that we have with SEO right now and to actually deliver something refreshing and with a differentiated point of view, something that humanizes the brand that created the content a video at the top of the blog like what we're gonna be doing on p twop growth for the blog post that we're gonna be creating. There's massive opportunity for differentiation and for bringing a fresh perspective. So I see it as awesome, Like if one of the biggest brands in the world is doing it in a way that I think is very much the wrong way, then that's just that's more for me to win because Google is getting smart enough now to know regardless of how many links that article gets, and and there's probably a lot of people that said yes to linking to that article because it was that iconic brand, and so I'm glad you did not do that. I've been thinking back, I'm like, when did I get so biased against company blogs? And it is because of big companies like this that time and time again they take up space on their website to give you content that anyone and everyone could give you. And there was a time when that one but that was years ago at this point, and now I just will never hit your blog page unless it's by accident, because I can almost safely assume that you're not pumping out content that is unique to your brand voice. You're giving something that's just feeding the algorithm in a sense, feeding the s c O engine. And so we have to change our mindset on what we're giving away there and how we infuse our unique takes and bring that...

...to the space. Actually, there's a comedian that I really enjoy, Hassan Minage. He came out with a new special, but he's been doing these interviews, and the one thing he harps on a lot about video content. He's like, I could go after becoming huge on TikTok or on YouTube shorts. He's like, I've got I could just figure out what the algorithm likes and just give the algorithm more and more and more of that. But then what am I ultimately serving when I do that? I'm serving YouTube's algorithm people. He's like, I'm becoming a slave to some person in some office in California who just needs to figure out how to keep people on YouTube shorts longer. Instead, when I know what I want to say, when you know what your company wants to say in a blog format or in a podcast format. Content at large, that's how quality content is created because no longer are you just serving the algorithm, You're serving what you feel some level of fction around. So even when we talk about content marketing, Dan, I thought your post recently on should we drop the marketing word out of content marketing it fits so well with this discussion because it's like, man, ultimately, when we create excellent content, that in and of itself becomes its own form of marketing. But we're so focused on the marketing word in content marketing that our content kind of becomes crap. It's a thin veil of content that's really not even marketing, because you could say, like, well, doing quality content is good marketing, and I would agree it's really sales based content, right, because this article is so bad that literally it's so bad because it will get so many links that will probably rank. People will come here, and it's really just to create a retargeting audience, I guess, but yeah, it's creating a retargeting audience, maybe to advertise later or just to get the myth almost said it, almost to get the brand in front of you, so you see the logo and the colors and stuff to kind of build familiarity...

...because we all know synergy works and marketing to get them in front of you. But people see through, which is why gen Z is searching TikTok more than they are Google, because they're finding better answers on TikTok while they're using YouTube. And I mean I use YouTube way more for search on some topics now because I can prove in the video that someone knows what they're saying. Like I did a search for lawnmowers being a new homeowner. And I didn't trust the blog post because they're all affiliate links to Amazon. IM like, they don't even know if this lawnmower works. But in the YouTube video it's hard to fake, right because they can be sitting there with six lawnmowers and look they're all right next to me. I've tried them all. You're like, I believe you. It's right there. Of course, you know that if they work or not, you've tested them all, you've given it some thought, and you can actually make a good recommendation. But this one thing that really stood out about is how bad it is. In fact, it's so bad. I have to read like one little tiny a few sentences from it and then you'll understand the degree to which this is bad. Okay, So under the section on this article, one of the main headings is what you need to start vlogging, and one of the subpoints is video camera, and this is what they say. The type of video camera you should use is up to you. Some people record their entire vlog on their phones. The key to being successful is the content you produce that makes people want to come back for more. High quality videos do very well, but if you don't have content that engages your audience, they won't watch Wait what did I just read? What is that? There's no practical application to even a video camera, which is so easy, like literally just going Google like the top performing cameras. So even in a commodity space where most people would have been like, oh yeah, these are the top three most used cameras for vlogging. Pick a DSLR mereless and phone or like a point and shoot a phone in a popular DSLR camera would have been good. But that's why you can read this and be like, this person has no idea that it's almost to the point where I think a I might have written it, but it's it's a little it too coherent because AI content is so much worse that it's not...

...quite there. But I could tell a human road it just just very quickly. But it's grammatically correct. And I'm like, you think of those uh podcasts where it's like to help put you to sleep. You could just you read this blog almost falling asleep as day was reading. Yeah, I mean practically part of it was the tone, but it's kind of like it said nothing said nothing. Some people use their phones. It's up to you You're like that was not only like it just was unhelpful. You've literally wasted my time. Okay, so I get pitched a little bit to do things like essentially linked build for other people, but not as much as I'm sure either of you are getting pitched. Have you ever said yes? And if you have never said yes, could someone pitch you in a good enough way where you would say yes? Like explain when you would say yes. I would never say yes because I don't want to mess with the website, so I just delete it because I'm like, this is sounds like a lot of work and I'm not going to do that. So I've said yes when their value proposition to me, or in fact they never offer a value proposition, but I intuitively know like I have negotiating power. So if a tool usually they're almost always software tools, comes to me and they're like, hey, we'd like to be mentioned in your list. We have this tool that does X and I'm in the market for that. I'm like, yeah, sure, I'll add you to my list. It looks like you have a good tool. How about I get a free subscription to your tool in exchange for this link? When, when, and if it's something, and then I feel a little bit better about it, because if it's a tool that i'd actually putting it on the blog. So it freaking works. Otherwise, if it looks like a Jinkie tool or a tool that I already had access to or something like that, or something I could do for free, or I've already paying for it, then I wouldn't. But the fact that I'm like, it's valuable enough for me to put the link on there and I actually use it afterwards, now that I have a free subscription to it, I'll add it to the list. So in those says, it works, but it's...

...rare. It's rare that that works out that way. That's an important note that it's always baffled me. And it was really the genesis of content based networking. And it's like, you have to give value to the person that you're trying to extract value from first, like and so for you to come and ask me for a link on my blog that is only beneficial to you, like my blog post is already ranking for the key word that we're trying to rank for mission accomplished, I won. So it baffles me that this is still happening. This stopped being effective. I don't know half a decade ago, but it's from what I understand, at least from what Dan tells me about s c O, the back links aren't even that critical of a factor anymore. You can rank by just abiding or serving the user's intent better, Like you don't need a bunch of back links to get something to rank. And so it is interesting to me that a brand that big, that has the resources that they have, are still are still using such an outdated strategy. They still matter, but not in the same way that people think they do. And getting these like you could just get them organically, because Google will literally just surface your article and test it. They'll literally like throw it up there for a few days, see if it gives with people. And naturally, if the gives of people one of the metrics they'll look at other than time on page. And if they click through into the site and say all that is, do some people start back linking to it? They will, and they'll start building a natural, organic back linking profile. And that's the thing that people are trying to gain but just doesn't work. Nearyway as well as it used to, because it's one factor of many factors they now have at the disposal to know of content is quality. There's also a site ranking factors and stuff, and they know brands work. So this is why this will work for this bigger company because people trust big brands still. Just to show how important it is to build a substantial brand and have affinity with people because you can throw out crappy content and they're still going to click through to your article to at least check it out because of the affinity they already have with you. But that article is going to take down a little...

...bit of that affinity. Every time you throw this out, you're going to lose that affinity. I now have a bad taste in my mouth toward a brand that I previously like, really really loved and now it's like, and they recently got acquired that We're probably given away too many details. You probably know who we're talking about, but I'm like, oh, they got acquired in there. Now they're in this like corporate machine doing all the dumb stuff. They lost the character that their brand had. So going back to Benji, this thought of like should we take the marketing out of content marketing. Even in that case, in that blog post, there probably wasn't a lot of marketing in that blog post. It's not like they're saying, hey, use our you know, email platform, But there was zero focus on the content. I mean, they probably had you clearly had somebody that knows nothing about blogging right that thing. And so god knows how many other articles they've had that same person right. And and it's not in an even on the person. It's indiment on the strategy and the person on the leader that's having this strategy be executed. But it's not even necessarily that I think brands are stuffing too much marketing into their content as much as it is, they just aren't focusing on making the content actually compelling and resident. They're not focusing on the content as the product, which is why companies need to think about it more of beating a media companies. A media company thinks of the content as the product that they monetize, because if you think about it like that, then you actually think like, oh, shoot, like we need people to convert on this content as and subscribe to get more, because the more we consumption we get, the more of a product base we have, but they're trying to attract like cheap leads with this. And you know, across the top of this website they have log in and sign up are the main It's like a floating nab bar at the top, which is typical for a sales site, and it should be. That's what a sales site does. But if you're doing a media company, you need the content to resonate so that...

...they come and read more, or watch more, or listen to more. So the thinking is off. If you think about it to just make it quick lead, then it's not going to be the same, which is why you need to take the marketing out of the content and just focus on the content. It's once you have the attention, it's easy to monetize later. It really is. And in the same way, you know, just just like media companies are monetizing that attention through advertising, companies are monetizing that attention through selling their product. But it's a longer path to selling that product. But when you can build that affinity, there's endless opportunities that come with that. So it's it's a heavy lift on the front end to do this, which is why I think we're not seeing companies truly try to do this. Like we're talking to somebody the other day. It's like there are a lot of marketers at series B series C companies that are talking about community building, building media companies. How do we build a media company? So it is being talked about, but still we're not seeing. And you saw you saw Patrick Campbell do it at profit well and then he got you know, acquired for two million dollars, and so he was really prolific and the kind of B two B needs to become media companies. Well, looks like it worked out for that guy because his great great great grandkids will never work a day in their life. And so it's hard, and he would tell you it's freaking hard. Like I got to go up and hang out with Patrick in his office a couple of years ago, and great, dude, I don't think he would shy away from telling you how hard it is to to actually do this, To to take the marketing out of content marketing and focus on the content. You've you've got to build a team of people that understand how to actually do this, and and it takes investment. But when you when you get it right and you have the attention, you have all the leverage. And I've been saying this, you know, I forget who I got this from, but I think it was one of the market feedback calls that I did a couple of weeks ago. It's like, if you can build...

...an asset, an independent media asset that if everything went to hell in your business and you could sell this media asset to one of your competitors for tens of millions of dollars, That's what we're really talking about here. Like, you have the value of your company, and if you're doing this thing right, you also have the value of a media property that captivates the attention of your market and allows allows you, as the owner of it, to control the narrative for the industry. And so that is an incredibly valuable asset to own. And uh and I just can't wait for more and more brands to really get it. All Right, So that was long enough ramble. We're gonna wrap this thing up. Thank you all for jotting about. This is something that we've been talking about a lot internally, so I'm glad we got this recorded. But that's it for today's Echo Chamber episode. Remember there are a lot of ways to win. Commodity content is the enemy. Focus on affinity over awareness. You can find all things GDP growth at bTB Growth Show dot com. Make sure to connect with Dan Benji and myself over on LinkedIn and we're out. We're always excited to have conversations with leaders on the front lines of marketing. If there's a marketing director or a chief marketing officer that you think we need to have on the show, reach out. Email me Benji dot block at sweet fish Media dot com. I look forward to hearing from you.

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