Are You Catfishing Yourself?

“Catfish” has become a verb. In case you haven’t watched the documentary or TV series that gave rise to the popularity of the term, “catfishing” refers to the act of presenting false information to make someone believe you are someone else. Common usage has expanded to include just about any instance of leading someone to believe one thing and delivering another.

I find this a common challenge for today’s content practitioners. Many people I meet tell me that they were hired supposedly to serve as strategic content marketer, or managing editor, or journalist within the brand—and the job turned out to be more of an on-demand vending machine of web copy, technical documentation, and sales materials.

That’s a rant for a different day.

What I find even more interesting are those content marketers who catfish themselves. For example, I was working with a B2C financial services company just last month, and the content marketing director there was frustrated because his department had turned into (in his words) “the team that makes the PowerPoints.” What had started as an initiative to create a brand storytelling machine had devolved into a team that created sales materials and SEO-focused web articles.

His boss was angry with him because she hadn’t seen the promised results. What she saw in the plan was not what she got.

I asked the content marketing director the obvious question: Had he been able to communicate his content marketing strategy? “Kind of,” he said. “We did create a plan. But we’re so busy that we just have to keep producing stuff. And my manager is annoyed because we aren’t delivering against the goals in that plan.”

The content marketing director catfished himself.

Now, sometimes strategies and priorities change. Sometimes when the CEO wants you to plan the corporate retreat instead of working on that strategic blog, you plan the retreat. Sometimes, when Sales is hurting and wants account-based marketing materials, we might need to reprioritize our team’s efforts away from that cool, high-level, brand-education magazine.

In those cases, the internal communication and the plan must change as well.

In the CMI annual research, we always harp on the gap between the “most successful” and “least successful” content marketers when it comes to a documented content marketing strategy.  I’ll tell you from experience, closing that gap takes more than putting a plan into a Word doc or PowerPoint file. Documentation itself is not the magic. The magic comes from keeping your plans and your actions aligned.

So match your actions to your plan and your plan to your actions. Leave catfishing to the trolls.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Robert Rose
Chief Strategy Officer at The Content Advisory
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS.

Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.
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Author: Robert Rose
As the Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, the exclusive education and consulting group of The Content Marketing Institute, Robert develops content and customer experience strategies for large enterprises such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Oracle, McCormick Spices, Capital One, and UPS. Robert’s book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing was called “a call to arms and a self-help guide for creating the experiences that consumers will fall in love with.” For the last three years, he’s co-hosted the podcast This Old Marketing, with Joe Pulizzi. It’s frequently a top 20 marketing podcast on iTunes and is downloaded more than a million times every year, in 100 countries around the world.