After 40+ years in the communications business, I have developed a bit of a sixth sense for bullshit. This sixth sense doesn’t come from fortunate genetics or divine intervention, it comes simply from using my reading skills and what little analytical skills creative people possess, to see the forest for the trees.
Scams and cons and get rich quick schemes have pretty much been around throughout recorded history. In today’s world, however, they can sometimes be cleverly disguised as business building tools promising to help you achieve great levels of success, optimize your potential, generally get your butt in gear and move your business to the next level, blah blah blah.
This is all very admirable, and if it were true to any substantial degree, our business world would be humming like a top. Sadly, however, and as more and more people and businesses are discovering, the descendents of the hucksters, flim-flam men, con artists, charlatans and common thieves are still alive and well, equipped with a marvelous tool called the Internet which helps them keep their businesses going strong at the expense of people and companies who have drunk the Koolaid and really believe that things like the Laws of Attraction, magic bullets, high priced networking organizations, and most recently content management programs will really help propel their businesses to new heights.
We’re More Vulnerable Than Ever These Days
The Internet is a marvelous thing. It would probably be very difficult for the world to function in any meaningful way without it now. But at the end of the day, the Internet is basically just a system, and it’s because it’s open to anyone, and because it’s relatively new and people don’t know much about it, the potential for scams of all kinds are huge. I like the Internet personally. It saves me a hell of a lot of time, in many ways. And I like the idea that you can find out pretty much anything you need to know in order to find people that you might want to solicit business from or give work to.
However once you do that, the Internet cannot a) call those people up and talk to them, b) arrange a meeting to present yourself to them, and c) get them to hire you. Certainly the Internet can provide them with information about you. But nobody’s going to make an important hiring decision based on that. Flesh must be pressed. War stories must be told. Expertise must be communicated.
So in a way, it’s kind of naïve to think that buying into some sort of program, no matter how rationally it is sold, will be the answer to your prayers.
Over the past few years, the concept of branding on and getting business from Business Networking Media has come to the fore. And whoever thought this up was very clever because they realized that there was a huge opportunity to provide a service that nobody had thought of yet. This came in the form of something called content management. You hear all kinds of media people chanting the mantra “content is king”. And the so called “experts” in this area will show you how to set up a program that will help you “engage” with people in your target area through a very complex, labyrinthine, series of blogs, newsletters, press releases etc that need to be maintained at pretty much a breakneck pace in order for you to really achieve the kind of results they promise. They are also quick to point out that any business can benefit from this form of marketing. And so they come at businesses, with the benefit of all the self-generated and media supported hype about the massive customer potential that exists in social or business media, with all the fervor of an evangelical ministry. And you know what, people sign up, shell out big bucks, and monitor their program with little or no idea of what the results actually mean or how they are derived. And then they wait for the miracle to manifest.
In reality, and as many are finding out the hard way, they would have been much better off simply going out and buying a lottery ticket.
Because what the a lot of content management and digital business media gurus don’t tell you is that the Internet is virtually flooded with content. Mainly because these gurus have done such an amazing job of getting people out there pumping in content in the form of blogs, tweets, ebooks, white papers, newsletters, business profiles, tip posts and reposts, through business groups, webinars, directory sites etc.
And what happens in a flood such as this is that any given content management program can easily lost in the sea of content flowing around out there. Of course, these gurus will tell you can always pump more money and time and effort into your content management program to make yourself more “visible”. But at a certain point you have to ask yourself a simple question. Where’s the ROI?
And the answer that will most likely come back is…who knows?
False Hope Is A Pretty Sad Thing
While content management programs are not what you would call “scams”, many of them do offer more than a little false hope. They feed you and your business into the Blue Ocean of Bubbly Goo that is the Internet and once it’s there it can go anywhere. Because, as we all know, from a marketing perspective, the Internet is the world’s biggest shotgun.
So where do you end up?
Well, a number of companies are starting to discover that, after spending considerable amounts of money and devoting huge amounts of time and energy to content management programs, they end up having very little to show for their effort. So the next corner they turn tends to bring them right back to where they started, with traditional marketing, with defined target groups and with creative persuasion to build awareness, inform and attract clients or customers.
This is not to say that things like content management programs don’t work for some businesses or that there are not credible professionals content management consultants out there. They do and there are, that’s a fact. The problem is that the marketing science behind this concept is not fully developed and so the only true way to really find out if it’s right for your business is to jump in and try it. Kind of a Catch 22.
And even if it turns out that this type of marketing is right for your business, you are then faced with the challenge of making the program work for you and sustaining it over a long period of time. Like forever.
And then you’re back to the question….where’s the ROI?
I’ve been skeptical about the market potential of content management since I first heard the term being used. But I do believe that if you are going to investigate the potential of these media for your business, you would be wise to find a knowledgeable management or business consultant rather than going directly to one of these “content gurus”, because by and large these “gurus” really have very little in the way of experience or expertise beyond their chosen path. And frankly, making programs like these work, really does require a lot of expertise.
This content marketing that I have been talking about is not to be confused with Social Media Marketing, which may or may not constitute a small part of any given content marketing scheme. To me, SMM is more about product/service promotion for larger companies and personal branding for individuals and small, mainly solopreneur businesses. But then we all just see the tip of one iceberg or another.
I create and implement strategically focused branding, advertising & promotion
for companies who appreciate solid creative thinking and value reasonable rates.