Should You Fire Your Marketing Content?

Written by on December 19, 2012 in Messaging, Strategy - No comments

Have you ever had a co-worker who made you internally ask the question, “What is it that you say you do here?” Someone who reminds you of Tom Smykowski from Office Space?

If you’ve seen this classic workplace comedy, you will surely remember Tom. He was perpetually worried about being fired or laid off. Mainly because he didn’t really have a job that needed to be done in the first place. When the “efficiency experts” interview him, he quickly becomes agitated trying to explain that he is a liaison between the engineers and the customers.  But really he is just an unnecessary step in a process.

The Bobs quickly determine this to be the case, and ultimately Tom’s greatest fear comes true. He’s out of a job. But after a freak accident that he says is the best thing to ever happen, he’s finally able to see his patented Jump to Conclusions mat come to life. Remember? It was a mat. With conclusions. That you could…jump to.

With Tom as my inspiration, I’d like to suggest that you bring in the Bobs to talk to your marketing content.  I did just that a few days ago. Midway through a blog post, I stopped myself. Read the post out loud. And then asked it a simple question. “What is it that you say you do here?”

It wasn’t a poorly written post. But it was absolutely just taking up space. Like Tom Smykowski. When I pressed myself to understand the post’s purpose, it became painfully clear that this specific piece of content had no real objective, no J-O-B, other than to be a piece of content. So, do you know what I did? I fired it. Or, more accurately, I chose NOT to hire it.

In a world where it’s so hard to get people’s attention, where budgets are limited, and expectations are higher than ever, every single thing you do must matter. Every ad, every blog, every tweet, every email, every…single…thing.  With that in mind, I’d highly recommend you spend some time with every piece of marketing content you have, just as you would evaluate a candidate who is interested in joining your team. Here are four questions to guide you:

  1. What job does this piece of content have? What is the actual work you need it to do? The actual result you need it to achieve? Does it really fill an unmet need?
  2. Does this job need to be done? You only have so many hours during the day, and so many dollars in the budget. Is the job at hand important enough to invest in?
  3. Is this the right piece of content for the job? Ok, there is a job to do. And it’s important. Is this piece of content going to get it done? Does it have the right attributes? The right angle? Is it the right vehicle? Is it good enough?
  4. How will you know if it’s doing the job you hired it to do? If you choose to put or keep this content on the job, how are you measuring its performance? What will you use to tell you whether it’s a cog in the wheel or a clog in the drain?

If your next piece of content passes the above test, it’s quite reasonable to “jump to the conclusion” that you will be pleased with its productivity.  If you choose not to employ this exercise, don’t be surprised if you look up one day to a campaign full of Tom Smykowski’s and find yourself on the wrong end of this question: “What is it that you say you do here?”

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