George Tannenbaum, author of the blog Ad Aged, wrote a great piece on Content Marketing recently.
Do yourself a favor and give it a read: https://bit.ly/2q3eWRs
It covers a lot of bases but what I particularly liked was his assertion that in our rush to take advantage of every social opportunity, we’re losing the capacity to properly marshall the work and exercise brand oversight.
This shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. As we devolve the powers of content creation to more and more people, it is perhaps inevitable that the quality of the work wavers.
Here are a couple of factors.
The cost of entry for potential content makers has never been lower. A couple thousand bucks will get you a professional standard camera, a mic kit, and a passable lighting package. Editing, sound, and FX can be executed from a laptop.
The result is that soup-to-nuts production options are everywhere. The vast majority are good, many flat-out great, but let’s not pretend the bad and the downright ugly aren’t out there, too.
The other contributing factor is the experience levels of those entrusted with the stewardship of the brand.
There is an enormous gulf in nuance and understanding between the Head of Marketing with 5-10 years’ tenure on a brand and a new account coordinator who, out of necessity, is immediately charged with overseeing the brand’s smaller, less attractive projects.
This is not to apportion blame, only to point out a simple truth.
The result is that the average Joe and Josephine Schmo are receiving mixed messages.
To take automotive as an example. One moment they’re being presented with a luxury TV spot that looks like a million dollars and probably cost as much. It boasts high production values, is voiced by a movie star, and utilizes the very latest FX to support its claims of styling, performance, and advanced engineering.
Later the same day, they are subjected to a poorly made piece of content in their social feed.
Same brand; two totally different brand perceptions.
The recipient may not be able to articulate what’s wrong with all this but they will feel it. The feeling is one of confusion and an overwhelming sense of being short-changed.
The real question is what can we do about it?
I have a couple of suggestion, take them as you will.
I would start by embracing the idea of “Less is More.”
Rein things in so that fewer people have the authority to act on the brand’s behalf.
Ensure that those that do are senior, knowledgeable and proven.
Next, try and instigate a policy of 360 quality. Allocate a reasonable budget and swear off the falsehood that the need to turn things around quickly makes cheap and shoddy work okay.
Either make a pitch for larger resources (easy to say, I know) or cut back on the number of executions in order to maintain consistency.
If we all hold to the belief that everything is branding at some level or another, then the poorest execution will lower and stain a brand far more egregiously than a slick production will lift it up.
It’s a tough nettle to grasp but grasped it must.
The brand that lives in the heart and minds of its audience must be the best possible iteration of itself. It can’t waver or be subject to whim, circumstance or parsimony.
Our industries brightest and best already know this. It’s why they earn the big bucks.
They might need to earn a few of them right now.