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  • Warren Leppik

The cure for zombie content

I recently enjoyed The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow. One particular statistic jumped out at me: The top 5% of branded content accounts for 90% of all engagement. Think about that. That means that 95% of what’s being produced isn’t producing a result. The books authors attribute this to the proliferation of Zombie Content due to millions of marketers being infected by the “content bug”.

According to the authors “Marketers have bought into the idea that stories and education build relationships and make people care in ways that commercial sales pitches and calls to action do not. This is a good thing. But unfortunately, because [good] content is hard, many have started drifting asleep and doing the same thing as everyone else. Or worse, dressing up the same old intrusive advertising tactics and calling it storytelling. We see zombie content as the biggest challenge for brand publishers moving forward.” They see two reasons for this:

  • “The brand content industry is starting to get saturated. Its like when the internet made it so anyone could make their own music and publish it for free online. Before long an insane amount of bad or boring music flooded the internet”

  • “Agencies that specialize in other things throw in the word content in their same old offering”

I believe the following:

  • Great authors and great storytellers are few and far between. Its an art form.

  • The ability to “self-publish” has led to a tsunami of content that should have never seen the light of day.

  • Creating original compelling content from scratch is the hardest way to go about it.

In a world where 75% of people distrust what they see on social media, our world is hungry for authenticity. Beyond just features and benefits, the new plain of differentiation is exceptional customer experience. And if you are indeed providing an exceptional customer experience, I believe that looking for, revealing and capturing these stories is the path to unique, compelling content that will attract those hungry for a similar experience which will drive growth. Rather than trying to find or nurture the talent required to create content from scratch internally, why wouldn’t you simply harvest the stories that already exist within your company? Because the experience received is tied to your people, your culture and your process, it is 100% original and cannot be duplicated. No zombie content here.


But do-it-yourselfer’s take note. There is great skill required to find and professionally package these stories on video for distribution. But by looking inwardly, you’re giving yourself, and the professional storytellers you engage, a running start. And unlike zombie content such as made up listicles, you’re starting with something real and relevant to those with similar pain looking for a resolution.


In addition to having customers sing your praises, you have a lot of smart people in your company who come together to provide the exceptional experience that keeps your customers coming back. Your customers never get a chance to meet these people. Enabling your thought leaders to share their knowledge in the form of actionable insights on video give prospects the ability to test-through-trial the benefits these insights could bring to their business. Try before you buy if you will. Thought Leadership also provides a look behind the curtain, providing an opportunity to meet the people they can expect to deal with further humanizing the brand. People buy from people they like and capturing and sharing the passion of your people, being proactively constructive and helpful, goes a long way to fostering likability.


Finally, do you have a Corporate Social Responsibility Program that supports your local community either through money or staff participation? Capturing the stories of those impacted in the community not only offer proof that you put your time and money where your month is, these activities talk to the culture and values of the company and impact your company’s likability. Not only by customers but by younger generations looking to work for organizations with a WHY greater than profit.


Together, customer experience stories, thought leadership and community impact stories are the vaccination for zombie content and an unbeatable combination when it comes to establishing trust which inevitability leads to engagement and growth.

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