Confessions of a former content marketing sceptic

Jun 27, 2016
Content Marketing

My name is Ian and I have a confession to make: It wasn’t that long ago that I viewed the whole content marketing space with a fair degree of scepticism*.

(*Full disclosure: I honestly thought it was marketing claptrap.)

This tale starts not long after I joined Lush back in 2012. The company was well established, with a raft of clients that read like a Who’s Who of West Australian and national companies. The quality of production created by this small team made me want to be a part of it and I felt at home the first day I started.

I hadn’t been here that long when I started to hear about content marketing. My wife is in “marcomms”, so I asked her about it. In all honesty I remember trying hard not to glaze over as she told me about it and what it was. To me it sounded like the latest marketing jargon. I was a video producer; what did I care about social engagement, blogs, podcasts, case studies, etc.? Still, I was given some homework reading and I started to get a better understanding of what it all meant.

Content Marketing World was an eye-opener

To aid my education, Lush sent me to Content Marketing World Sydney in 2014, where I was able to witness firsthand how this industry was growing as well as listen to some great speakers and discussions. I still wasn’t completely convinced, but I was starting to understand content marketing’s value.

It was at CM World where I first met Sarah Mitchell. I listened to her talk and was later introduced to her. I didn’t know then we would end up working together, but it wasn’t long after that I started to hear of her name around the office and the possibility that she might come on board in some capacity.

In the meantime, Lush had continued on its own journey into content marketing — we had started producing a weekly blog, had something of a presence on social media, even had a newsletter going out every now and then. We just didn’t really have any strategy behind it, something that I have since discovered is far more common than most companies like to think.

Seeing the benefits of content marketing firsthand

When Sarah joined us, she quickly started to add a much-needed strategy to what Lush was doing; the piece had been there but the plan wasn’t. Today I am witnessing firsthand just how effective strategic content marketing can be. In what can be a very tough economic environment, we receive requests on a daily basis from any number of organisations that have come to us via our own content. Whether via email or over the phone, they want to find out how they can market their business in a similar way.

Whether it’s through the Brand Newsroom podcast or our blog, one of our executive briefings, or via our newsletter, the traction the content has created has undoubtedly converted me from sceptic to believer.

It also made me think about the brands I trust and their content I consume. Being a bit of a football tragic (the round-ball form, not the egg-shaped kind), I like to keep an eye on what is happening in the English Premier League. I only ever really trust the stories reported in the Guardian — thanks in no small part to its twice-weekly football podcast, which I listen to religiously as soon as it comes out.

Nowadays everyone says they offer content marketing services, so be sure to ask the right questions to figure out if they are the agency you want to partner with.

Some things I think you should consider:

1) Do they produce their own content?

They say the mechanic never has time to fix his own car, but if the agency you want to do business with doesn’t produce their own content, how can they be in a position to advise what is going to work best for you? I also think if a mechanic’s car always needs fixing, they probably aren’t that knowledgeable on cars anyway.

2) Ask to meet the team who will be working with you

It’s all too easy to be wowed by the senior members of the team only to be fobbed off to the intern when the work starts. Ask to meet the team you are going to be working with and ask about their experience and what they bring to the table. We are human and relationships play a key role in the success of our projects both from a client and agency side.

3) How do they approach the strategic side of things?

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to content marketing. If anyone comes to you with a preconceived plan, it’s probably not going to be one that works for you. It takes time and research to work out a strategy based on your business objectives – it’s not about what’s worked for previous clients.

4) Content marketing isn’t a short-term fix

If you really want to explore content marketing, you need to be prepared for a long-term approach. If you are presented with campaigns and promises of instant results, it’s probably not content marketing anyway.


If you’d like us to answer any of these queries, or want to chat more about content marketing, drop us a line.