Self-deception is defined by Wikipedia as “a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument. Self-deception involves convincing oneself of a truth (or lack of truth) so that one does not reveal any self-knowledge of the deception.”
Savvy B2B marketers often have the reputation of being able to praise the products and services they are pushing regardless of their real value. But these days it seems that many marketing professionals are not only manipulating customers but are also suffering from self-deception.
This is evident by looking at the results of the new 2021 B2B Content Marketing report, produced for the 11th consecutive year by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
For example, a whopping 94 percent of content marketers praised themselves for adopting their content marketing strategy to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 86% saying that their organization reacted quickly and 80% feeling the changes they introduced were effective.
Moreover, only a quarter of all content marketers said that the COVID-19 outbreak had a major impact on their marketing strategy. This sounds very strange and even unrealistic.
The entire world is facing an unprecedented challenge that will drive future changes in all spheres of life that we can’t even foresee. Despite that, marketing professionals feel comfortable enough to downplay the impact of this global crisis.
The international economy has come to a near-standstill and the World Bank estimates a 5.2% contraction in global GDP in 2020. But despite that only 15% of marketers feel the pandemic will have a major long-term impact on their organization’s overall marketing success. This just doesn’t make sense.
To marketeers’ credit, we need to say that the survey was conducted in July, so some of the participants probably didn’t see the full picture. On top of that, it seems that most marketing professionals are optimistic by nature.
The truth is that they must be in order to succeed in such a demanding profession in which you are always expected to perform better today than you did yesterday and improve even further tomorrow.
Being optimistic is important, but these days you need to be realistic as well.
So, for example, a recent report by PQ Media indicates that after years of double-digit percentage growth, U.S. content marketing revenues are expected to decline 6.8% due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, while global content marketing is projected to decline 1.9%.
Source: PQ Media Global Content Marketing Forecast 2020
In today’s reality, marketing pros should not focus on the glass half full and realize that treating self-deception begins with facing reality in which competition will grow and budgets will decrease.
If you wish to succeed in the COVID-19 reality, you would do well to abandon unfounded optimism and realize that it might very well get worse before it gets any better.
As real advocates of web marketing, we strongly believe that in the long run online marketing will strengthen and emerge as one of the strongest marketing tactics – but it will be a bumpy ride.
The web is full of articles and blog posts offering marketers tips and tactics to succeed in these crazy days.
We would suggest adopting a completely different approach. Instead of following the usual advice (improve your content, produce more content, upgrade measurement, set goals, and so on) now is the time to experiment.
There is no guarantee that what worked well in the past will continue to do so currently, and there is no single solution that fits all. Now is the time to try lots of different tactics and see what works well for you.
You should try a little bit of everything and watch your competitors closely to see what they are doing. They might be coping with the situation better than you are, so you can learn from them, or even better learn from their mistakes.
This is also a great opportunity to further align your content marketing strategy with your company’s overall strategy. Your digital marketing unit – or agency if you outsource your activities – should be involved in the decision-making process and the outline of the strategy for post corona days.
This is a great time to reexamine your target audience, range of products and services, and improve the way they are digitally presented.
We are living in times of uncertainty. Those marketers who take nothing for granted, realize that the rules of the game are changing and are willing to work hard and take risks will be the ones who will swim through these stormy waters first, paving the way for the entire industry.
If you wish to succeed, start by facing reality, roll up your sleeves and get ready for some hard work in a challenging environment that we can only pray will improve soon.
Dan Gerstenfeld is an online PR and Web marketing expert. He is the founder of Interteam Content Services, which specializes in providing digital marketing and lead generation services to B2B companies.
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