How does your QC compare?

Coming from a pharmaceutical marketing background, I have a very keen understanding of the need to be able to back up statements of fact with solid proof.  You can’t just make a tablet, give it a name and then tell people that it cures all sorts of woes.  You have to be able to defend your claims, or you soon get chopped off at the knees by the Medicines Control Council, never mind your competitors.

When we introduced the Panado “GP’s Choice” positioning, it came after months of solid research, and copy development, with every step of the way approved by everyone barring the Pope.   We knew it would shake up the market, and we knew we had to be beyond reproach.

Of course, that was back when, as brand manager, I didn’t have a computer on my desk!  Today, if we took that long to implement a strategy, we’d run the very real risk of the opportunity having passed us by.

But quality control in traditional advertising still tends to be, well, controlled.  Concepts are evaluated and copy is scrutinized, tweaked and adjusted. The final artwork is checked and checked again, till it’s finally signed off.  But that’s not necessarily true for online marketing.

The internet is a vast resource of knowledge and information, but it demands a certain level of cynicism and discrimination – even Wikipedia has no editors.  Earlier this week I did a quick search to see who coined the term “content marketing”, and found it attributed to three different people, all from “authoritative” sites that were on page 1 of my Google search.  (How’s that for collective consciousness!)

Simply put, if you want your market to trust you, your content must be trustworthy.  And the standard rules of publishing apply:

Don’t quote a “fact” just because someone has provided a reference
Follow the thread and check that the original source has been accurately quoted.  And if no source is provided, find one; they may not be right and their error will impact on your credibility.

Don’t plagiarise
If you’re going to quote from anther website, provide a link back to that site.  They’ve done the work, so give them the credit.

Choose your references carefully
The quality of the sites you link to impacts on the authority of your site.  Previously, before Google changed their search algorithms, vast numbers of links helped your Google search rankings.  Now Google evaluates the quality of your links, so instead of chasing numbers of references (or links), you need to focus on quality instead.

It’s very easy to leap in and publish online.  And it offers huge value to the marketing mix, and it’s important to capitalise on the opportunities digital marketing offers.  But every comment, tweet and blog by, or on behalf of, a brand is a reflection of that brand, so you have to get it right.  One ill-advised comment or inaccurate article can begin to erode confidence in your expertise and credibility.   Make sure your quality control is in place.

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