Is your content embarrassing and damaging your brand?

18 July 2022 | 5 min read | Digital
Portrait photo of Paul MacKenzie-Cummins
Paul MacKenzie-Cummins

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Imagine spending hours, days even, planning, researching and eventually writing an article or whitepaper for your company website. Then, to amplify its reach to your target audience, you put some paid advertising behind it on LinkedIn or Twitter, for example.

You would be forgiven for thinking ‘Grand, that’s a job well done. We have achieved what we set out to do with this piece of work which was to demonstrate we really know our onions. We’re going to look great in the eyes of those potential new customers we really want to attract.’ Well, very good. Well done. Bravo in fact. But… and here it comes… what if that piece of work is, well, crap?

At a time when competition between brands and organisations has never been more intense, content has become one of the most powerful tools in the marketing kitbag for raising awareness, engaging audiences and influencing customer decision making.

This has led to a meteoric rise in the volume of thought leadership content being produced by business leaders and their marketing or PR teams. However, our research shows that the intended consumers of this content aren’t exactly overwhelmed by the quality of what they are seeing and hearing.

Indeed, in what became one of the first pieces of market research into thought leadership in the UK, more than 500 CEOs, Managing Directors and other C-suite executives took part in a study conducted by us here at Clearly, and here’s what they told us:

  • 40 per cent described the content (blogs/articles, podcasts, videos etc.) they are exposed to as ‘appalling’, ‘bad’ or ‘poor’ at best
  • 59 per cent said that most of this content lacks originality of thought or fresh ideas. And,
  • 1 in 3 questioned the quality of the content they consume, citing most of it to be ‘poorly written’

Ouch! But there is a serious implication to all of this.

Content that can be described in any of the three ways highlighted above is simply embarrassing. Not to mention damaging to your brand.

The question for me is: Why do brands/organisations produce such poor standard quality content in the first place when:

  • they evidently know their respective industries and subject matters inside and out
  • they are well-placed/qualified to speak on such matters,and
  • they have bucket loads of experience which alone merits theirs to be a voice worth listening to?

Content has become one of the most powerful tools in the marketing kitbag for raising awareness, engaging audiences and influencing customer decision making

The answer may be down to time and skill.

Time is a precious commodity that we all have less and less of. In their haste to ensure a steady flow of content is being distributed, there are some brands/organisations that rush production so as to get ‘something’ out there.

Then there is the matter of skill – an ability to write or create a piece of content in a tone and style that not only reflects the personality of the brand creating it but resonates with its intended audience, too.

At the risk of inviting a barrage of criticism, many brands/organisations delegate content creation responsibility to the most junior members with little or no understanding of how to present a piece of content in a way that showcases the organisation at its very best.

Or responsibility is given to those who consider its production to ‘not be my job’. They resent writing and as such will either blitz their way through an article, for example, or agonise over it for days on end.

Neither scenario is likely to result in a credible piece of content that will swoon potential customers/clients or position the brand/organisation in a positive light.

Yet, as our study found, 40 per cent agreed that when they are exposed to what they determine to be a ‘quality’ piece of well-written thought leadership content, their perception of the business that has produced it (and the personal brand of the individual whose name is attached to it) is significantly improved.

Moreover, 7 in 10 (69 per cent) of business leaders say that they attention is retained when a piece of thought leadership content is both ‘relevant’ to them and their industry, and ‘topical’ – contextual to the hear and now.

So, it perhaps comes as no surprise to learn that 1 in 5 CEO’s, MDs and C-suite executives go on to contact said content producers and do business with them.

Thought leadership has the phenomenal ability to impact, influence and drive income for brands/organisations. But only when is done right.

It’s aim is not to repeat or reinforce what is already being said. Rather, its objective is to change the rules of the game. It must seek to position creators as those with the insights, ideas, and real-world practical understanding of the business world within which they operate. And they must do so in a way that adds value to the relationship between supplier and consumer.

As BC Forbes said, “The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated.”

Need any direction or support with your thought leadership content creation. Drop me a wee line via and let’s talk it through.