A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Content Marketing Isn’t For Everyone

Friday, January 11th, 2013

I’ve always been leery of becoming the guy with a hammer. As in, “to a guy with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” As with just about everyone with expertise in a particular area, I see the world through a certain lens. But I don’t think that’s made me blind to content marketing’s limitations. It’s not for everyone. (Though there’s ample evidence that content marketing is becoming more and more effective across just about every industry.)

With that in mind, I set out to find types of companies who might not benefit from content marketing or market situations where content marketing wouldn’t have an impact. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

Strong Brand
The first kind of firm that came to mind was one with an exceedingly strong brand. Think Harvard, think Mercedes Benz. (If you’re old enough, think Cadillac. If not, watch this very funny clip from Get Shorty, the movie based on the Elmore Leonard novel.)

It’s pretty much a given, in terms of popular opinion, that these brands are peerless. They don’t need to establish thought leadership or credibility.

That’s not to say that they don’t have to advertise or promote themselves. Princeton and Yale are breathing down Harvard’s neck, competing for all-star faculty and the brightest high school and graduate students. Mercedes most certainly has their eye on BMW, Audi, and Lexus at the very least.

That’s not to say that I think these brands couldn’t benefit from great content marketing. In fact, at least one big brand agrees completely: Coca Cola, which certainly has to be counted among the biggest of global brands, has a huge initiative in place to make content marketing a part of Coke’s communication fabric.

High Touch Industries
The second example that came to mind was high touch industries like doctors, lawyers, personal finance professionals, accountants. We used to be fond of saying that in those industries, a website probably wouldn’t win you any business, but it could certainly cost you business. By that, we meant that nobody signs on with an accountant based solely on their website, but that a really poor website might cause someone to reconsider.

In some ways that’s still true – websites don’t close usually deals for high-touch firms. But a website that is not consistently updated with fresh content is, at the very least, giving up a great opportunity to create a positive impression, to establish credibility and to build the level of comfort that clients typically are looking for (consciously or not) in a professional relationship of this nature.

So, as with the platinum-plated brands above, high-touch industries might be better able to endure in the market place without content marketing.

That is, until their competitors add content marketing to the mix. 





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