February 19, 2014

Avoiding the Content Creation Trap Content is the new black. Content is the new media. Content is everything. Content is king. Content is over-hyped. Many of my clients feel compelled to create or curate content as an adjunct to the goods or services they produce. The theory is that content is stickier. Content drives repetitive site visits and purchases. Content provides context. And content differentiates brands one from another. Distributed content gets more traffic than branded websites. By spreading content around the web or on social media, brands lure consumers with linked pathways back to your site. Jay Baer calls this the dandelion strategy. Seeds are spread far and wide and the website is the stalk bringing everything together. Pharmaceutical companies have embraced this strategy big time. Each one has a mountain of disease, condition awareness and product-related content in virtually every imaginable format. But nobody is sure if it pays off or pays out. The reality is that too much content is the same. Much of it is not new. And very little is own-able by brands. A look at SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics shows that compared to home pages, product descriptions and deal sections, very few consumers actually use the content that’s being created, syndicated or compiled on brand sites. And can you blame them? Does anyone really need another wellness tip, recipe, checklist, how-to video, home exercise regimen, infographic, or product diagram? How many links to the same memes, pictures, videos and articles does anyone really want? And does anyone really want this stuff from his or her peanut butter, prescription drug, toilet tissue, fast food joint or bank? The relentless creation and collection of gratuitous advice leaves most of us cold. Joe Queenan, writing in The Wall Street Journal, captured this sentiment when he wrote, “A major part of the Internet’s appeal is the immediate availability of useful advice on virtually any topic. If people have the right information in their hands, the Web’s evangelists proclaimed, they will make the right decisions. Things haven’t worked out the way they hoped. People still smoke. People still text while driving. People still vote Republican.” Creating or collecting content is comforting for brand managers even if their customers are ambivalent or disinterested. Content keeps the grubby business of selling at arm’s length and positions a brand, at least in the minds of marketers, as concerned, caring and credible. But gaining consumer credit requires realistic calculation to understand where a brand can participate in the conversation and what value a brand can realistically provide and own. Generally two criteria apply. Standing. Brands are sorted into discrete folders in our brains. How you are sorted determines how, when, and where you can enter into the conversation. An athletic wear brand can speak credibly about exercise and wellness or sports. A food brand can talk about nutrition. A fashion brand can assess red carpet creations. But brands need to stick closely to how consumers perceive them. Brands have less standing than friends, co-workers or family members. The level of credibility, awareness, interest and trust in a brand, determines the aperture you have for reaching target customers. Familiar brands have more standing than invisibles or newbies. Standing also defines the angle of attack. A complete stranger approaching customers with random content prompts immediate confusion or rejection. Getting good juicy gossip from a trusted friend is the opposite end of the spectrum. Plotting your standing will separate intrusive from credible and invited content. Posture. The approach to customers is a function of the state of the relationship. In some cases a message delivered by a credible third party has more impact than a direct approach. Posture affects the psychology of your positioning and shapes the tone, manner, language, imagery and attitude of the content you curate or create. Content can facilitate interactions and relationships. Context can attract new prospects or activate loyal customers. Content plays a role at the top of the funnel. But it’s not an automatic connection or a silver bullet. In many cases, creating or aggregating content doubles a brand’s traffic-driving burden and budget. Branded content must provide immediate value in utility, information or entertainment. The ultimate measurement is usage leading to a measurable preference or a countable action. Related articles Collaboration, Curation and Creation, a Way to ...
Big Data Promises Personalized Medicine By 2020, big data technology will turn every person into his/her own mobile health network. Each person will wear a device -- a ring, a bracelet, a Google Glass -- wirelessly connected to an app that will monitor and transmit vital signs and key indicators of every condition they have. Smarter and more complex fitness bands will marry up with the increasing sophistication of medical and wellness apps to create the ability to monitor and measure almost every significant indicator. Trailing results, plus medical records, DNA and up-to-the-minute stats, will be accessible to EMTs or in the ER, in the case of an accident or incident, and will be routinely trafficked to primary care providers. How we feel will be determined by a series of common, standardized data points instead of vague, indescribable feelings. This data stream, which will be encrypted and stored in the cloud, will be seamlessly and continuously connected to each person's eMR, primary care and specialist doctors, their payer and probably some government entity, which will aggregate and analyze mountains of data. Personal data will be transmitted on a routine schedule and instantly compared to established norms, standards of care and business rules in real time. When spikes or anomalies occur in the routine transmission of personal data, alerts will be sent to the patient, the doctor, the pharmacy, the caregivers or EMTs, if necessary. Many of the sub-components of this ecosystem exist or are in development. Drs. Robin Cook and Eric Topol, writing in The Wall Street Journal, argue that all the physiological data monitored in hospital intensive care units can today be recorded and continuously analyzed on smartphones. A variety of technologies under development will enable smartphones to produce and use all the studies currently done in a medical lab including chemistries, blood values and microbiological studies. And with slight variations apps will be able to carry out urinalysis, specific gravity pH and levels for glucose, protein, red and white blood cells, bilirubin and nitrates and determine if a woman is pregnant. Preventive or compliance behavior will be programmed in advance with "if this; do that" automated logic. For Drs. Cook and Topol, a smartphone will become an avatar physician that’s always with you and always on. Between now and then, software standards will have to be negotiated and interoperability protocols established. This will be a prolonged marketplace battle well worth fighting. We will all be connected to a national health grid that will be immediately accessible on many devices. Most people will be willing to trade a degree of privacy for a huge difference in health care. Over time the insights from this massive data mart will shape national health care policy and set new standards of care in each therapeutic category. This will be a messy, contentious, loud and intensely political exercise that will require a few iterations to get it right, given the array of vested and entrenched interests at the table. But, as a result, our ability to predict disease progress and develop more effective and cost efficient treatment algorithms will triple. And our ability to proactively intervene and to respond quickly to medical problems will take a quantum leap forward. Related articles [tt] WSJ: Cook and Topol: How Digital Medicine Will Soon Save Your Life

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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