Product is to Research is NOT as Research is to Product
Extreme Content Marketing
One of the issues with the nature of academic research is that it is inaccessible to the public, or the wrong pieces of information (sometimes lies) are propagated as click bait, because that is what sells. Today I’m going to talk about a project I’m working on (in general terms) and lay out a strategy that I like because it is not only good marketing, but it could have a positive impact on the world.
If your marketing looks like marketing, it's not good marketing
Essentially, if the product offers real value then it may take some time to educate the consumer about it. This is especially true in the wellness niche because the body and brain are super complicated. Moreover, it takes real research to transcribe academic papers and sift through the bullsh*t to find the truth.
Product discovery is all about finding the truth about what really offers value. Content marketing can basically be about communicating the research that led to the product, but sometimes it gets really complicated. In this case, where nobody really understands the value of the product except for the researchers the led to it’s creation, the sales funnel essentially becomes a class on the value of the product.
People are afraid of what they don't know
Everyone hates marketers, because there is such a clear monetary incentive. People hate to be manipulated, but this is what marketers do. Education is a form of manipulation, especially if you are building a sales funnel that educates about the product, because the end goal is a monetary incentive.
Question: when do you have enough credibility to reveal the monetary incentive?
In order to promote a product, the agency problem needs to be resolved in the purchasers mind. This is just a fancy way of saying that the customer needs to trust that you have their best interests at heart. If you are operating within the health & wellness space, they need to think that their health is a priority and is aligned with the profit-maximizing motive.
Essentially, the monetary incentive for selling the product needs to align with their wellness goals. This is a delicate process, because if the content seems too good to be true, it turns the customer off. If they don’t understand what you are saying, they think they are being manipulated, especially if the content contradicts something they already believe.
Therefore, if there is no way to engage with the customer directly, the content needs to anticipate these objections that present barriers to proper product education. Market research is a most important process.
The role of MARKETER
Content marketing presents a unique presence to the agency problem. Obviously, the goal is for conversion. This is best understood by describing the creation of content in general. On one hand, you have a journalist who is supposed to report the news and the facts. Their job is to be unbiased so that their reputation will not be tarnished.
The incentive here means a strict loyalty to what will build a certain type of audience over the long term, not what will sell a product. The type of audience they are trying to build determines the extent to which the content is politicized or radicalized.
Reputation is important, but understand that it is not loyalty to the whole truth for all reporters, necessarily and unfortunately. For some it is if they are building the type of audience that craves this sort of content. For others, they will purposefully politicize and radicalize because they are after that niche. The journalist keeps their audience in mind, with the goal being to “preach to the choir”, to some extent, one of those choirs being loyal to the idea that they are not a choir.
On the other hand, you have cost per action for impulse purchases. They want a click, or a sign-up quick, and might bend the rules, using every psychological trick in the book.
It is all for money right now for these invisible entities, even if that means throwing a 30 day guarantee on it (because most people are too lazy to ask for a refund, but it legitimizes the purchase in their mind). They give everyone a bad name, but it makes sense that this would run rampant because of the clear monetary incentive.
The role of Content MARKETER
As a result of being screwed every which way (myself included), people
hate to be sold to. Sales and marketing is a dirty word. Content
marketing is supposed to be the redemption. Instead of selling, we are educating on the product, they say. Each objection is another opportunity to come to a resolution and educate about the part of the product that overcomes that objection.
Okay, great. But that still sounds a little manipulate-ey to me. What I propose is a little bit different. The role of the content marketer should be to distill the truth of academia into the most easily consumable media. Moreover, they should start with what research led to the product discovery, and then use the credibility inherent in that research to build the social proof.
If you think your job is to come up with great ideas as a marketer, or that the product person should be doing the research you are wrong. The government subsidizes research and development to the tune of billions of dollars, providing it to the private sector at extremely discounted rates.
Keep it Simple Stupid!
Okay I get it. Academia is ridiculously convoluted and very scared of people with the word market in their job title. But remember that the availability of information in this new connected world means that credibility can be verified. You are your reputation.
Content marketers are increasingly journalists, essentially. Adhere to the truth to build a reputation of educating and offering product based on discovering through research, rather than the other way around.
The redemption is not in the fact that we are educating about the product. The redemption comes from the fact that the research led to the product, and you are reporting on that process. If it is the other way around, run like hell from that product.