Content Marketing: The Language of the Middle

What is the most important factor for creating a successful text? Is it the idea? Is it the content? Both are close and yet a means to an end. The most important matter the author has to be aware of is the text’s objective. But unfortunately, this is not much talked about and often presupposed. The consequence: The text becomes an end in itself and fails to have the desired effect.

Why talk about something that should be clear anyways? The answer is: because the world has gotten more complicated. In the past, advertising and editing could be separated clearly from one another. Not later than with the rise of Content Marketing or the more offensive push version “Native Advertising”, the borders begin to blur. Although Content Marketing is not in its infancy anymore, the industry can still not decide on a consistent definition. All the more important it is in practice to clearly communicate to the author which objective his text should pursue.

Apart from basics like the target group, you should exactly define for which phase of the Customer Journey the content should be created. You do this already? Great. But have you also yet thought about the professional self-conception of your authors? If marketers compare journalists to ad writers, this is mostly done superficially: Both are experts, technically close together; the one often writes longer, the other shorter texts. You already notice this by means of the record length.

Truth and Insight

What many people forget: The coinage and values of the two professional groups, their work’s objectives and so their texts’ objectives are not only different. They are completely opposite. While marketing “is oriented towards the clients’ needs” (Kotler); “a good journalist does not go along with a matter, also not with a good matter” (Friedrich). (The justifiable hint that press freedom and democracy contradict Friedrich’s statement is hidden at that point).

A good ad writer is characterized by the ability to know before writing which insight he wants to address to the reader. His text should take up the wishes, needs and motivations of the reader. With his text, the author wants to influence the reader’s action. He wants to trigger something. He is measured thereon.

A journalist learns the opposite: It must be absolutely irrelevant to him what kind of reaction his text triggers in the reader. His task is information. The consequences must not be a matter of interest to him. A news editor reports the diesel scandal and even mentions in his text that in Germany, every 7th workplace is dependent on this industry. To keep a scandal as a secret for that reason is no option, even if the producer is the largest advertising customer.

What does this mean in practice?

The Persuasion Axis

To sort your own thoughts, I recommend planning texts not only along the Customer Journey, but also to fundamentally deal with the desired influence of texts on the recipient: from merely informative to maximally action-motivating. From the sole message to the shortest and most effective sales promise: “50%”. This particularly makes sense if people who do not deal with Content Marketing daily are involved in the conception phase.


Info graphic: The Persuasion Axis


This Persuasion Axis, as I call it, especially helps to sensitize large teams and ensures that, from marketing board to different management positions up to the (online) editor and the executive author, the same language is spoken.

Journalists of course also write excellent persuasive texts. Nearly all lifestyle magazines deal with how readers should shape their lives. But customers obtain the best effect in Content Marketing if the briefing for the author contains precise objectives and insights besides the format and the length of the text. “The board wants it to be as journalistic as possible” is thus counterproductive.


Influencer Marketing: Courage trumps Uniformity

The global influencer market is expected to grow to US$ 10 b by 2020 (w&v). Mediation platforms are springing up like digital mushrooms. Companies are seeding products like nobody’s business.
To ask a heretical question though: when exactly did we come up with the idea that marketing is at its most successful when everyone is doing the same thing?

So about two years ago Influencer Marketing came about. To jog our memories: not much earlier there was already a miracle cure against the most advertising-resistant target groups – called Content Marketing and the promises were too good to be true: all you needed to do was to make relevant information available and Google would lead the customers to landing pages as if by magic. Via the upper funnel new customers would gradually be generated.


Obviously, this was never the original idea of Content Marketing. But which companies really put customer needs centrestage, tore down their marketing and PR silos and produced strategic content for every phase of the customer relationship, for every touch point?
Wasn’t copy often just given a journalistic makeover and, because for Google this wasn’t enough just for Page 1, weren’t ad words and native advertising just booked as well? Pretty much.

History Repeats Itself
Luckily, we don’t need to worry about this anymore – because now influencers are the next big thing. Here, too, the path is rocky and strategic. Long-term cooperation with influencers does bring rewards but it is also more like public relations. Or if activity-driven campaigns are selected then they should at least be coordinated cooperatively instead of just delegated to influencers.
Advertisers should define leading principles for creative communication together with influencers. Communication that suits the relevant brand world. (In any case, it has to suit the influencer and their followers otherwise you should not have contacted them.)

But as is the case with content there is also the purported “quick win” in Influencer Marketing: platforms that hook you up with hundreds of thousands of influencers. What initially seemed like a pretty good idea becomes a problem if more and more companies jump on the bandwagon: which adds up to an increasing number of interchangeable, crude product placements.

Those who book marketing from the mass production line should not be surprised when they get a generic result. Because not every channel is actually that unique, as the exaggerated presentation of Dandy Diary demonstrates.

Savings Book Returns
Why are there not more bold campaigns with influencers instead of those (sometimes embarrassing) product placements? To explain advertising impact Holger Jung once gave the example of the savings book versus stocks and shares: those wanting absolute security who run their communication like a saving book cannot complain about low returns.

Particularly now, when more and more firms are bombarding influencers with products via platforms, you should tell a story that people remember. Maybe even with ideas that have not been tried out hundreds of times over, ones that are fresh and that cause a stir. Then you’ll get the right returns.


Our GARDENA Influencer campaign helps you save time. We calculated how much time you save using a GARDENA robot mower. And exactly this amount of time was then made available to four influencers. Our campaign motto: “Tu was Du liebst” (Do What You Love).

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Time for Style


Olivia Burton is the British accessories brand founded by best friends and ex-fashion buyers Jemma and Lesa.

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