Now that consumer-generated product information – mostly in the form of reviews – is overwhelming the web and dominating the customer’s buying process, I have to ask the question: is marketing copy becoming obsolete? Does the very fact that a marketer wrote some copy make that copy less-believable, less-trustworthy, and therefore – dare I say – irrelevant?
Almost everyone knows that copywriters are paid to say nice things about the products they’re describing. They say “our experts will have you up and running in no time,” even if the process takes 6 weeks and involves IT, your webmaster, your legal team, and keeps you from doing anything else until the installation is complete.
Existing customers, however, writing about their experiences, would tell you that really happened to them. You might still decide to buy that enterprise-wide system, but you’d be going into the installation phase with your eyes open. You’d be better prepared. You wouldn’t have that luxury if you had been blind-sided by the copy written by the marketer.
But there is a middle ground, one where the marketer simply tells the truth about what typically happens after the customer signs a contract, or the truth about the way a product is made.
“These shirts tend to run a little large, so you might want to order a smaller size,” the marketer will write, helpfully. (Of course, the marketer has to know this – and that would only happen if the marketer interviewed customers.) Or, “The installation phase can take as long as 6 weeks; here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you move smoothly through the process.”
Marketers can, and are, also turning into managers of user-generated content. They are making sure that reviews show up wherever their products are sold. Management of this content includes inviting customers to write reviews; filtering out reviews that mention competitors (for a whole lot of reasons) or introduce legal issues; posting the reviews; and sending the reviews out to other platforms.
As with all efforts related to anything remotely social, all this takes a lot of work – but it is work that more and more marketers find themselves doing. Customer-generated content is definitely starting to eclipse company-generated content.