April 29, 2020 |

Our business has never really marketed itself. In the main this comes down to the fact that it has run nicely over the past ten and a bit years, thanks to our excellent network that has largely marketed Tank for us. Now though, that by itself won’t be enough. The gloves are off, and COVID-19’s wave of terror is going to flatten many businesses if we don’t step up a gear on the proactive marketing front. Marketing like never before, is going to count.

I was an agency board director during the 2008 recession (two years before I launched Tank) and saw how the status quo changed throughout that time. Many of those that marketed, hard, came out of the recession with increased market share.

In the (at least physically) restrictive environment we find ourselves in, marketing is now mostly going to be about content – handily the thing that is the essence of what connects us to our publics.

It’s fair to say that I have a dim view of many marketers’ efforts to market themselves. This is not out of some ethical stance – like how some lawyers still think marketing is low brow as they fundamentally struggle with the fact that it’s now permitted and once was not. It’s more that when I see some of the assets that marketeers produce for themselves, it makes me cringe on their behalf – a bit like watching theatre productions when someone ‘loses themselves’ on stage and you die of embarrassment for them. No offence – perhaps I’m just a bit shy.

Such bad content (for me) may consist of:

The overuse (or perhaps use) of terms such as ‘reaching out’;
Someone half-dressed spouting absolute crap / potentially damaging advice – yet fuelled and spurred on by millions of non-business followers;
Link bait content ads;
The ‘expert’ re-hashing (more often than not in a somewhat confused manner) something they’ve heard other people talking about for months as if they’ve just conceived this notion over breakfast;
I could go on;
And on.

The good thing is that for anyone with anything interesting to say, you can wade past all of this weak content, if you can tell the story properly. As we allude to in our current brand campaign – good organic content will simply eat the weak content. For Tank and consultants in general, the marketing journey should be simple. We just need to speak to people that we could help about the things they are struggling with, and begin the process of assisting them with insight, advice and if we’re all lucky – inspiration. If we do that well and convince them that we can add value to their marketing efforts, we may start to work with them now or perhaps when this is all over.

Great content is so important to that process – for us and anyone else that’s offering consultancy. COVID-19 has made content marketing more difficult yet more essential. Not only has it cast an enormous layer of content at the front of literally everything else in our media (obviously for good reason) – it is also going to inevitably create a recession that means that most businesses are going to have to market ten times harder just to stay in the same place.

Our philosophy for great content is very simple – it has to be something that people wish to read, like or share. If it ticks those boxes it has a great chance of being used by journalists or genuinely spiking the interest of a business’ desired audiences. Content like this will push its way to the front.

Here are a few examples of what I think good actually looks like, where content is concerned. Handily (marketing!) in this instance, they are all examples drawn from our client base.

Ipsos Retail Performance’s Weather Map is a mechanism that shares timely retail footfall data with journalists and other interested parties. The great thing about this, is that it has now become something that journalists actually look forward to receiving as a barometer of retail performance.

Access Group’s award-winning Destination Employer content campaign for its HCM division, was designed to guide businesses in the pursuit of becoming a place people aspire to work at. The big difference about this, beyond the level of expertise and research that went into it, was the ‘Lonely Planet’ style execution, making it far more interesting to read than standard reports.

Orangetheory Fitness’ Heart Health Quiz invited potential customers to monitor their fitness levels online. This gamified content made the engagement and discovery actually fun and informative.