Businesses need to become self-sufficient rather than being held to ransom by others.
The internet has meant that every company has the opportunity to become a media company. What is created on your website can be shared rather than the traditional ways of having to rent space from a newspaper to be targeted at someone else’s audience, to the fact that you have an ongoing distribution channel in your pocket.
We don’t require permission from anyone anymore to create, but we need to learn to become more self supporting and see every opportunity to grow rather than passing the buck completely to someone else. Rather than shifting responsibility, businesses (no matter what size) need to be retrained and reskilled in the opportunity that affordable technology and the ability to build and grow an audience can provide.
An Example From The Last Week
Let me explain things in a bit more detail. A company I have been in discussion with were looking to work with a content marketing consultancy, but rather than understanding how a content lead everything works and the opportunity to work closely together, it was a more hands-off approach. Rather than gradual responsibility to be given to the business and the opportunity to become self sustaining using the tools that are available and to become more confident to have control and enter a dialogue with their audience, they were more interested in just passing everything over for someone else ‘to get on with it,’ in the broadest terms meaning the consistent publishing of content over a period of time around the relevant needs of their audience.
In no way am I saying this is a bad thing, as this is what pays the bills. What I am highlighting is that we are in an age of abundance where we can now learn new skills that don’t necessarily need vast amounts of investment to then give to others (such as the press) who once had more power and reached than we do, so we can borrow what they have. For instance, to anyone using a Mac, the ability to podcast is already part of the deal with Garageband installed.
What I have issue with are companies who are happy to pass full responsibility of their marketing to another company and always being held to ransom. This could eventually get to the point where a business can’t afford to function as they have turned their head one way and constantly outsourced. As businesses, embracing a content mindset means accepting responsibility. From within the company, stories are happening every week from a customer and also internal angle to share and explain to others (even down to the simple questions that people ask, which you may think is easy).
Whilst companies need a hand with the creation, curation and distribution of content, partnerships and alliances need to be formed with those who can assist. The worst thing a company can do when it comes to content marketing is to outsource and then completely forget about, with a ‘it’s not our problem now’ mentality.
Picture Going Back To School
Here is the easiest way that I can put this into context.
There is so much changing in the world where the next few years are more about the direct relationships that we build rather than the ‘marketing’ of our products and looking to manipulate the perception of others (by the way, I really do have an issue with the word ‘marketing’ in 2014, but will save that for another article).
It is similar to going to school and used to the routine that fills your everyday life, such as the friends that you hang about with in the playground, the solemn acknowledgment of ‘double maths’ on a Wednesday afternoon, the same faces that you play in the school year sports team to the class field-trip where everyone is ‘trying’ to learn about a particular topic at the same time. Imagine that this is the regular habit to your school week and then on the following Monday you are taken out of class and put directly into the year above, without any prior notice.
This new world is unfamiliar, the people look bigger, the clothes other people wear are a few sizes larger, you naturally think that your new peers know more than you and better prepared. More importantly the organisation of the classroom is totally different, the expectations from the teachers are greater and you are a stranger in a space that you are familiar with. The biggest issues you have to deal with in the new year group are going to be around a change of skills, a difference in attitude and the grasp of further knowledge.
Lets bring this back to the real world, this is what is happening at the moment where companies are continuing as they used to operate in a marketing capacity, but the actual world has moved on from the reliance of the monthly advert in the local press, the radio sponsorship and the purchasing of another database to target a further postcode or demographic. On the other hand, the opportunity that is there for companies to reinvent themselves in a world that has higher expectations provides reward for those who are deserving of their space.
Right then, back to school. To overcome sinking and academic failure in your new year group (in the academic year above) and the assignments set, you can tackle it in two potential ways. You can either pay someone to do the homework for you or you can get someone to work alongside you to educate and to provide a framework to learn from. Rocky Balboa wouldn’t have become a world beating heavy weight boxer if it wasn’t for his trainer Mickey and in his own words ‘For a 45 minute fight, you got to train hard for 45,000 minutes.’
Stick To The Same Path Or Form New Spaces?
This is what the world of business now presents us. We can either stick to the way that our predecessors have worked with (have a read of a previous article that highlights failed marketing tools in today’s world, click here). We keep with the traditional routes of interruption, disruption and manipulation, or we can become trained to understand a changed mindset and develop and execute a media strategy that is focused on original content that entertains, informs and helps generate an audience who will buy from you (and come back again and again) because you are doing so in an authentic and spirited way.
Businesses now have the opportunity to grow their own space with a commitment to learning and adapting how they work. It is a duty to acknowledge that the world has changed and rather than turn a blind eye and pass total responsibility to another individual (or business) there is the requirement to understand the role that their business plays is different in the second decade of the 2000s. The biggest change today is the recognition of the media platforms business have total ownership of (by becoming the source with websites, blogs, email) to allow authority to be demonstrated and earned within the marketplace.
Get To Grips With The New Rules
If you are going to be playing a new game, you have got to know the rules. You can’t just step onto the field of play and cower away in a corner while you expect someone else to pull you through the duration of the match, you will become exposed and at some point your total lack of preparation will leave you on the end of a heavy defeat.
Companies can’t just sit behind a website and think that they have earned their place. To have a website today just means that you have entered the heats and still a long way off from the final. It is the support that a content and media approach brings that businesses need to embrace. Gone are the days of paying someone to take care of business and come back in six months time with how things are progressing, it’s a collective approach that needs to be understood and maintained for companies to become eventually ready to continue the momentum from the path that has been laid (rather than a campaign mentality). The measurement successes are namely the generation of an audience, an editorial calendar that has been formed and a continuous commitment to create information that tells a compelling company story and not a one-way message of product driven promotion.
With the right training and application, the tools that are there to be utilised do not belong to an age where people sat in corners of offices with their headphones on and no one else knew what was going on. The accessibility of platforms such as WordPress even to the ease of graphical treatment through sites such as Canva, means that companies have the opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn. What needs focus from specialist companies (such as a content marketing consultancy) is to help others who have something to sell, to develop and install a media and content strategy that encourages collaboration, teamwork and eventual confidence to become a key resource in their marketplace and comfortable with the channels that they are using.
A bit like moving up a year at school, when you have invested time to acknowledge and learn, rather than passing onto someone else to do the homework, the chances of standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of your new year peers is not an unreachable target.