In 2016, I went back to uni to study logistics and supply chain management; in three and a half years, I remember one class more than any. It was when Sam - my marketing teacher - didn't so much lecture as he did preach about Perception.
Note: I had two favourite teachers, one was for marketing and the other for... Obviously... Logistics (warehouse management to be specific... You know who you are).
Today, I don't really remember the details of Sam's lecture. Still, I do remember it having an impact and being a real stirring point in my interest in communicating to the masses using multifaceted means and methods (i.e....marketing).
If you end up working in "marketing", as I have, you are asked to talk about sales most of the time when trying to gauge your marketing performance. This is weird because you can go to uni to study marketing, but you can't study sales... Even though that's what you end up getting asked about the most in the "real world".
What's the difference between sales and marketing?
So what's the difference? A quick Google says it's the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. And if you Google the definition for Sales, you get the exchange of a commodity for money, the action of selling something.
For some reason, maybe it's thanks to the general oversimplification of absolutely everything these days; marketing and sales have become interchangeable terms. I would even say that "ads" and "marketing" have been commoditized. The commoditization was initially driven by the likes of Google and exponentially overdone by the likes of Facebook.
(Note 1: Facebook is now called "Meta"... Because a name change is really going to divert from the mind-destroying-BS this platform has become).
People seem to spend money on marketing because it's a form of insurance.
In my experience and research, most people seem to pay for marketing with the same enthusiasm as they pay for insurance... Spending money on these "things" and this "stuff", just in the hope it works but more so to avoid the feelings of loss, bankruptcy and humiliation because you didn't spend anything at all.
And isn't insurance is amazing! In 2020 I spent $1,180.96 to insure my car for a year. For 12 whole months, I didn't hear a single word from the car insurer about anything in that entire year. Not a single word. I heard back from them only a month before the following year's payment was due. How amazing is that a whole year, a thousand dollars, no words exchanged - just in case I drive my VW Polo GTI into a Mercedes.
(By the way, no, I didn't end up renewing. I Googled five other providers and paid $693.95... And they are friendly; they send me spammy style emails every annoying month, but at least now I get to feel like a portion of my own money is being used to annoy myself).
The problem with ROI.
The point I'm getting at here is that a salesperson has a clear metric for success, sales. Someone sold a thing and got money for it. For a marketing person, it's much harder to gauge success because you aren't trying to track sales; you're trying to track perception (how people think about your name) and positioning (how you want people to think about your name).
Tracking something so subjective as an objective number based metric is very annoying. Sure, you can have an online store and link it all up to show you the direct impact of your ad spend, but that doesn't apply to people selling anything that costs more than $200. And things get a lot worse when you try to track the value of a piece of content. I mean... spending $4,000 on a video is a lot of money for (most) businesses. How do you know that the investment is going to be worth it?!
What if paying for marketing was more like paying for a forklift?
Putting my logistics hat on, if I buy a forklift, it's pretty not good. The 20k I spend on this asset will only depreciate with time and use. However, the value I get by moving more stuff around and processing more orders makes sense. I value the asset as it is used over time, not the amount I can sell it for. The same can be said about my Spotify subscription. And the same can be said about spending money on content. It makes a lot more sense if you can use it.
The more time your asset, whether a forklift or a video, works for you, the more it's worth it. The obvious question is... how do you make useful content?
Don't listen to Gary V.
Because the "too long don't read" summary of which Gary preaches is that if you DON'T put out 786 pieces of content TODAY. Then you are FAILING at SOCIAL MEDIA.
Gary has some good ideas. This is not one of them. Besides the inevitable anxiety and ADHD, you'll also develop a habit of making all of your marketing content into sales material. It's a very American way to do things, which is fine - in America. But here in Australia, we don't like tall poppies or shouty people. We like humble pie and passive aggression. Unless the argument involves sport.
The answer to 'how to make useful content' and build a 'content asset' (which I'm alluding to) is to make content that people care about. Something which matters. In the case of proper content marketing (what I call Knowledge Marketing because #busyness), it's about making something that solves a problem. That's pretty much as complicated as it needs to get.
If you solve the problem and the follow-up problems around a particular topic. You become the person that gets asked for help on the subject. When people ask for help, if it's a simple job, you can do it and make more assets to add to the arsenal and extend your influence in the space, and if it's a big job, you get to ask for money for your time.
When you look at it through this lens, the 4k you spent on a video seems small when you consider the compounding value the asset has (/can) returned over time. Granted, making media, let alone a valuable piece of media, is not easy. Also, I promise I'm not trying to sell videos or something...it's just a typical example.
The final question: let's see if this assembly of words becomes an asset.