If you work in digital marketing and haven’t read “Shipwreck Diary of a Content Marketer“ on McSweeney’s, put it at the top of your ToDo list. Actually, put it on your calendar to be sure it gets done.
It’s a precise takedown of the marketing world’s latest growth area, content marketing.
We join our castaway hero shortly after he washes ashore on a deserted island. The sole survivor of a content marketing misadventure. An apt analogy for any marketing effort gone awry.
Despite his situation, there’s an immediate sense of confidence as he considers the various content marketing tools at his avail. And over the course of the coming days, our hero rifles through click bait, crowdsourcing, a viral effort, an infographic, newsletter, multimedia, a brand ambassadorship, a podcast (rightly sponsored by Squarespace), a VP of Disruption and Growth Hacking, and of course native advertising.
Each of those shiny objects follows a similar trajectory, from enthused optimism to a fast crash and burn, with the latest solution hastily discarded for the next available tech.
And that’s what I like most about this piece. That it pulls back the cover on the real problem with content marketing. The new technologies of scale and reach that have many thinking content marketing is fast, easy, and a matter of checking off a few boxes. That’s why it’s so ripe for ridicule.
In fact, content marketing is anything but a latest trend. Each week content marketing gurus Pulizzi and Rose cover a historical example, sometimes dating back to the early 1900s. The key to those programs success obviously wasn’t any of the new technologies. It’s the quality of the content.
Per Content Marketing Institute’s recent survey on content marketers, a full 86% of B2C companies use content marketing.
However, an unfortunately high percentage of content marketing programs are operating without a documented strategy or mission statement. Sailing without a rudder, you could say.
Want to avoid a shipwreck in your content program? Consider what might have happened in this story right before the shipwreck. No strategy? Lack of planning? Shortage of resources?
New channels of distribution are great, and of course every marketer should use them where relevant. But they’re only the messenger.
Great content marketing programs have great messages.