Want to know what the best “content marketing” I’ve experienced this year is? Clue: It’s not what you might usually consider as content marketing.
I’ve recently been on the receiving end of a truly remarkable piece of content marketing. It’s a piece of B2B marketing that has cemented a long-standing love affair that I have with a company. It’s something that has already delivered ridiculous value for me and will continue to do so over many years.
So this post is a means of publicly saying thank you, but also hopefully serves as a nice case study of what great marketing can look like.
So what’s the content?
It’s the Google business coaching program that I’ve just completed. Essentially it was free business school for digital agencies. We were lucky enough to be selected as the only Scottish agency and one of only 20 across the UK (see coverage in The Scotsman below).
I’ve spent four days at Google London over the last four months being trained by a (non-Googler) specialist who knows agency land like the back of his hand. In between each session, I had 1-on-1 coaching with the trainer. All this was done without any mention of Google advertising products whatsoever. I’ve also gained a new peer group of other agency founders and managers who all seem to be grappling with (or have already grappled with) the same challenges and opportunities that I have to deal with.
And it’s been bloody brilliant (if you’ll excuse my french). And I’m ready to take on the world!
But that’s not content marketing?
Well why not?
- It’s been about the delivery of content;
- just because I’m an existing customer, doesn’t mean that I don’t need marketing to.
- The fact that there’s been no mention of the end product also doesn’t exclude it from being classified as “marketing” in my mind.
But it’s not digital!
Not in a strict sense, no, but that doesn’t matter. As Gordon White and I discussed at the January New Media Breakfast (you can still download the script to that here), it’s not about digital marketing but marketing in a digital world.
The business coaching program is a perfect example of this.
Yes, I could talk about how there’s an online discussion group as part of the course and there’s no doubt online collaboration was required to bring together the course materials. Furthermore, they could now create an online version of the training (which they no doubt will) and they did use customer data to single out the 20 agencies etc. However that would be missing the point. Entirely.
The true “digital” part of this is Google (not surprisingly!) recognising that the internet has changed the effectiveness of most forms of marketing for better or worse. The internet forces us to change where we invest our marketing effort, regardless of whether that effort is put in offline or online. This example is right out of the “adding value” marketing playbook:
“Ask not what your marketing can do for you, but what it can do for your customers“ i.e. the mindset of the digital marketer: working out what keeps your customer awake at night and then solving the problem for him or her.
In Seth Godin terms, Google have earned my permission for them to talk to me (anytime!). They’ve built a relationship (without mentioning their products) which means that when they do reach out to discuss their products, I’ll listen. That’s a very “digital marketing” mindset.
Another aspect to it is zeroing in on “influencers”, given the importance of third party recommendations to marketing today. It just so happens that I’m actually an “influencer” of Google’s ultimate customers (business owners and marketers – our clients, future clients and others whom will never work with us but may hear me or one of the team talk at an event or read posts on our blog and so on).
That’s where they’ll get the ROI from. I simply couldn’t have had the same influence pre-Internet and the now-somewhat-neutered traditional advertising would probably have been the quicker route back then.
So a huge thank you to Google for having the foresight to come up with this amazing program and for the investment you’ve made in Attacat and I. Please be assured that the ROI will be phenomenal!