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Digital Transformation

Is Your Content Marketing Inherently Flawed?

In the past week I’ve either read or listened to two heads of global marketing for two well-known brands. Both had a similar story with different sides of the same coin. Both had a message that dealt with marketers having to forget about telling their brand story and go with what customers want to hear.

shutterstock_168761921The first was a session about leveraging social data with Michelle Lapierre who is the senior director of Customer Experience at Marriott Rewards. The second is an article at discussing Adam Broitman, vice president of Global Digital Marketing at Mastercard, and his views on the subject.

Both said almost exactly the same thing to their internal and external marketing teams. I’ll quote Adam, but the message was almost identical:

“You need to forget about yourself–the brand–at first,” Broitman said. “There are a lot of brands out there putting garbage out and calling it content marketing. But that doesn’t serve the user.”

I love the message. As I’ve looked at what is successful, I find that it’s “real” content that people find interesting. It’s creating a conversation that’s personalized.  Michelle noted that no one thinks about their hotel stay first. They think about the need. If you highlight the hotel stay before the need then you’ve missed the boat and your results will show that. Michelle had a another great quote:

“Be BBQ worthy.”

In other words, have something that will make you worthy of being invited to the barbecue.

How To Get There

So if the flaw is that your content stinks and your content stinks because it’s about uninteresting topics, then what do you do?

Here’s what Adam had to say:

According to Broitman, MasterCard’s content strategy began with listening because being a great storyteller means telling the stories that people want to hear. The company discovered people on Twitter and Facebook were sharing reasons why they love a particular city and using the hashtag #lovethiscity. MasterCard decided to join the conversation, and the following is the first post the company made:

“We found a conversation online that was already happening and stories people were already telling on their own,” Broitman said. “These are the types of stories people want to hear … About 95 percent of marketing today is marketer-centered marketing. [Content marketing] must be user-centered marketing. [That] means putting the needs, wants, and limitations of end users at the heart of each stage of the decision-making process when designing programs to drive awareness, intent, and conversion.”

The second thing you do is create great content based on what you’ve discovered. I like both approaches. Here’s Mastercard’s:


Here’s the tear-jerker that Marriott Rewards used:


Needless to say, this approach can bring results. Michelle noted that her acquisitions in the campaign increased by 10 and her conversion rate increases 2.5 times.

It sounds like an approach worth taking.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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