I was once given the nickname “unapologetic marketing truth-teller” by a colleague. It’s a moniker I’ve taken to heart — our industry needs a bit of unvarnished honesty now and then.
In the spirit of truth-telling, I wanted to share some truths about our industry, and the buyers we serve, that every marketer should be aware of heading into 2019.
As you build out your plan, consider these. Also, consider joining me, Elle Woulfe, Sandra Chung and Daniel Waas on a live content marketing roundtable webinar event on Tuesday, December 11th for more important insights.
Let’s dig in.
Truth #1: The noise from marketing and media is deafening.
If I asked you how many blog posts were published in one day, what would you guess?
Marketers pump out 2 million blog posts a day as the barriers to publishing ideas to the web were removed with the advent of the first blogging platform.
Now, it’s simply table stakes for brands to publish content to the web. According to a 2018 study by MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute, 91% of B2B organizations have it baked into their marketing plans and budgets for 2019. 38% of those companies are turning up the dial, planning to increase the amount of content they create in the next year.
That itself creates plenty of competition for attention, but it’s important to also consider the economics of this surge of marketing content in context with the pace of our current news cycle. In a 24/7 world of constantly breaking news, our buyers are wildly distracted by what Nick Stockton of Wired magazine calls “the new FOMO” or “fear of missing out.”
Who cares about my friends? I’m missing the news!
We simply can’t stop checking the headlines – something that is driven by our very instincts. Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that in times of perceived crisis, our brains cry out for information in order to help us survive.
Everything feels like a crisis in a world where sensationalism abounds – after all, that’s what gets clicks on social platforms.
This leaves buyers compulsively accumulating news and information like hungry squirrels stuffing their cheeks at an all-you-can-eat buffet. By some estimates, in 2019 Americans will consume 5X as much information every day than we did in 1986.
It’s a miracle any marketing breaks through this environment.
Truth #2: Trust is in short supply.
Beyond the obvious implications of this current climate on marketing (e.g. much of what we produce goes unread, ignored, or unused,) there’s a much larger and more dangerous threat to the profession; a decline in trust.
Pew Research Center found that “an environment of total noise spreads confusion and mistrust.”
2018 saw the largest decline in trust ever measured by the Edelman Trust Barometer Report across our four major institutions – NGOs, business, government, and media.
Much of this mistrust was furthered by the rhetoric of US politics, other political surprises like Brexit, and Russian disinformation campaigns around the world. They’ve created uncertainty, divisiveness, and a dangerous lack of trust in institutional pillars.
Note: The study found that trust in journalism itself is actually rebounding. The “media” noted here in decline refers to the social and search platforms that have been largely under fire for the spread of misinformation and misuse of user data (see the Cambridge Analytica scandal in particular.)
Truth #3: Buyers don’t know which companies to trust.
For marketers, this problem hits close to home with the study’s finding that 42% of buyers don’t know which companies to trust.
We’ve spent 100+ years spreading marketing BS, creating unrealistic standards, and fueling campaigns with hyperbole and fluff. This is a major trust deficit for us to crawl back from – and those at the very top of organizations know it.
Edelman also found that vast majority (69%) of CEOs said their #1 priority this year is to ensure their company is trusted, even more so than ensuring profits/stock prices increase.
Truth #4: This is an incredible opportunity for marketing.
I know – you may be thinking this picture of doom and gloom I’ve painted is anything but hopeful. (I didn’t say they’d be truths you wanted to hear.)
But there is plenty of hope for our distrusted profession in light of these factors.
Marketers, we can see this chaos as either a threat or an opportunity. The truth is these are the perfect conditions from which to create change.
Every brand is struggling with these same parameters so the playing field is leveled. No longer does simply the loudest brand win – or that with the biggest marketing technology stack.
Now, wins belongs to those brands who can help lead buyers through this chaos.
As trust itself is a strategic C-level priority, that gives every CMO something incredibly valuable to drive towards. Let’s be honest, with the shortest tenure in the C-suite, uncertainty over the value of marketing, and confusion around what it is we really do, the CMO of 2019 really needs a win.
Trust is something marketing can directly create, protect, or destroy in-market. After all, it is based on perception – and that means the ball is firmly in our court.
Truth #5: Our content can be a vehicle for trust.
Content that falls flat is repurposed, regurgitated, irrelevant, and far too common.
Content COULD be our vehicle for earning attention and trust, but only if it contains:
- Original insights and fresh ideas that challenge how buyers currently see their worlds.
- Transparency into our expertise and honest clarity about the industries in which we operate
- Actionable, contextual ideas to help customers advance their business
Anything other than this isn’t helpful – it’s just adding to the noise.
So, can you handle the truth?
Join me on Tuesday, December 11th alongside some other smart, truth-telling marketers for a free, live webinar event hosted by Mention. Register here.