In the midst of the fervor to transform marketing with content, one brutal truth is too easily overlooked:  Content is hard.

How hard?  At The Media Transformation, we’ve been involved with over 300 content brands in our careers: daily, weekly, monthly, annually, video, print, TV, film, digital.  Across all of those brands, the majority of which were entertaining and effective, we can count on one hand the number of content leaders who had the management skills, creative spark, market perspective and business savvy to be called exceptional.

So, when pundits call for brands to create newsrooms, to build immersive content strategies and to engage the consumer, they are glossing over the unfortunate reality that there is a small group of people who can execute these plans with enough confidence and context to advance brand goals.

The brand leaders know that this is hard work.  According to a recent Curata survey, a plurality of US marketing professionals say they are struggling at the work of content curation.  The biggest challenge is with contextualizing content.

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A recent Outbrain analysis gives some insight into why contextualization is hard.  For a brand marketer, the imperative is to deliver relevant information that keeps prospective customers moving forward in the sales funnel.  A few brands commit to entertainment as a form of engagement that reinforces the brand image, but the majority of marketers need to justify their content marketing spend through the prism of leads and conversions.

When Outbrain examined click-through rates on content recommendations, it discovered that unrelated content recommendations delivered 16% higher click-through rates than related content recommendations.

 

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The lesson is that you can’t dictate consumer interest, and when you initiate a content-marketing program you either have to commit to trying to broadly entertain or to specifically focus on moving prospective customers into the sales process.  For most brands, it is hard to deploy the resources and engage the talent to do both.

 

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