"A funny thing happened on the way to extinction," said the maker of the horse buggy. "We didn't adapt to the changing environment."

Remember when getting customers was as easy as having a well-liked product, a recognizable logo and a pithy tag line that said everything you need to say in three or four words max? If that didn't work, well then, you create a new ad campaign or a new 30-second spot to regain brand share; Poof, marketing magic. Why did that work? Because there were three channels of TV, one newspaper per town and a couple of radio stations you liked. And the "experts" that knew how to make all this work for your business were in swanky offices with rolling bar sets. SFX needle scratch...

Today's average customer knows more about branding than Don Draper ever did in his glory. Don't believe me? Check out everybody's Facebook. Every single day, 1.4 billion people work on their personal brand image. "Look at me, I'm having more fun than you at a place you wish you could go to if you had as many friends as I do. My life is better than yours, and I can prove it by how many my likes I get." If I hear one more celebrity talk about building their personal brand like it's some sort of marketing imperative, I'm going stop following them on Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, and Vine, but not YouTube, I can't live without my YouTube.

The new marketing mantra for the past few years has been "consumers own marketing." Marketing thought leaders now regularly espouse this new consumer empowerment and how the digital landscape provides channels for immediate feedback on what consumers like and don't like. Others decry how millennials don't respond to advertising the way their parent did and how they prefer to do their own research. Countless articles tell us that consumers feel that user-generated content is more trusted than traditional marketing and how word-of-mouth and consumer reviews account for more lead generation than traditional direct or outbound marketing tactics. And then the big bombshell: what consumers really want from us going forward is content with:

  • Helpful tips to get them through their day
  • Fun information that is easy to digest and share
  • No sales messages

  • This is the content environment we live in now. All summed up on a beautiful infographic.

    At a former employer, we conducted a readers' study of the one communication vehicle that contained no overt sales messages. The results of the study showed that it was the most trusted piece of communication they received from us. They read it more regularly and more thoroughly than any other communication we sent them, resulting in a click through rate of 60%. And the readers used it primarily to learn more about new product offerings.

    Producing quality content that engages and inspires your audience has proven to be an incredibly effective way to create lasting relationships with your consumers in a very different way than traditional marketing. The challenge is to develop a content discipline or even better, a content group, that moves with the tide rather than being swept away by it. For this, you'll need a plan, you'll need training, you'll need support from above and--most importantly, you'll need to know your target audience empirically.

    Across this blog, I will be exploring the world of content development and its various implications in a series of posts. The series will offer thought starters and opportunities to discuss best practices and lessons from the content production world that will help you prepare your team to deliver compelling, relevant content in this ever-changing media-savvy environment. The blog series will look something like this:

    • Defining Your Content Goals--Do you have a clear understanding of what your customers want from you?
    • Building Your Content Organization--Is your team effectively aligned to deliver meaningful content?
    • B2B Content--A brief view into building exceptional, credible business content that creates value and how to measure that.
    • B2C Content--A brief view into building exceptional, credible consumer content that creates value and how to measure that.
    • Content as Customer Experience--Where do we go from here?

    I'm looking forward to providing you with a living example that content can be fun, educational and sharable. Until next time.

    If this is a topic you and your team are struggling with, Cella is available to provide on-site training for you and your team.