The digital industry has by now established that ‘content marketing’ is undeniably the buzz word of 2013.

Everybody is talking about it, everybody wants to do it, but what exactly is so good about it?

All the hype is understandably around writing a story for your brand, creating a narrative that will capture people’s hearts and make them remember you forever, developing brand affinity that will make people love you.

As we have seen with brands such as Red Bull, Coca Cola and Innocent Drinks, content marketing can help you achieve this, but is this really a bandwagon that everybody should jump on? Absolutely not.

Content marketing can’t make people love you if there is nothing there to be loved.

Life and human nature dictates that you can’t make somebody love you by badgering them, constantly talking about yourself and generally being quite annoying. The same applies for brands when it comes to online marketing.

Granted, content marketing is arguably as, if not more, essential in the online world today as it was in the offline world 50 years ago, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every brand has a story that everybody wants to read.

Brands in the finance industry, for instance, will always find it difficult to soar alongside those with wings if their focus is on imitating the social success of Red Bull’s content campaigns, so there evidently isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to this kind of marketing.

Content marketing can’t make people love you if there is nothing there to be loved.

People love talking about brands like Red Bull and Innocent Drinks because they have the free rein to create what they want; Red Bull has the budget to inspire people and Innocent has the folly to entertain people.

Innocent might not have the budget to send a man to the edge of space, but the team behind its marketing campaigns has carved such a rare niche of inane fun for the brand that people can relate to it on an everyday level.

Not many brands can claim to entertain people like a mate would, but it is crucial to understand that not every brand is going to benefit from such an approach. Different audiences want different things, so different brands should try different things.

That might seem like a patronising, commonsensical statement, but it simply means that not every brand has to conquer the internet with the content it creates for it to be successful with content marketing.

Content that caters to the needs of your audience is often more important than content that tries to entertain people for the sake of social domination. That is not, of course, to say that socially successful content isn’t of value to your online marketing efforts, but it is to say that content marketing doesn’t always have to be executed on a grand scale.

An article that directly answers a question that somebody in your target audience might be asking, such as ‘what is the difference between life assurance and life insurance?’, is still effective content marketing.

It might sound (or most definitely is) boring to most people, but if you are an insurance company that wants people to buy life insurance policies from you, it is a worthwhile piece of content precisely because it helps somebody solve a problem. That focus on support can be a significant aspect to marketing with content for some brands.

After all, content that helps your target audience is content that will inevitably help you.

The fact of the matter is that there is no reason to believe that content marketing won’t work for you. It can, but it’s the approach that steadfastly and unrelentingly focusses on acquiring the love of your consumers that won’t work if you have a brand that, quite frankly, nobody is capable of loving.

Only a certain breed of brand is capable of being loved – and by this I’m not referring to traditional love in the human sense, but social love in the digital sense. For a consumer, to ‘love’ a brand is to actively engage with it on a regular basis, to comment on and share the content it creates, to talk about its content marketing in the offline world.

We all know that that’s not going to happen for every brand that embarks on a content marketing strategy and, more often than not, this is down to two things: (1) the nature of the industry in which the brand sits and (2) budget.

For brands that can’t be loved, the onus must be on telling people what they want to know. If you can’t make people love you, encourage them to respect you by providing content that they will find useful and, moreover, content that will help them make a better informed decision in their everyday life.

A brand doesn’t always have to crack the toughest nut to see positive results from its efforts. It’s easy to envy and want to emulate the big hitters, but sometimes it’s better to focus on the less glamorous side of content.

Find the questions that your target audience is asking and answer them. Solve their problems for them and they won’t go elsewhere for the answers. Solve their problems for them and they’ll come to respect you as a font of knowledge, a good resource and an honest and trustworthy brand.

It might not be love, but it’s still a relationship that is worth nurturing.

Scott Mason

Scott Mason


Scott Mason is Head of Content Branded3.