The Sounds of Silence: What marketing activities matter?

Since the start of 2017, we conducted an experiment: What would be the impact of a six-month absence from our social media, blog and eNewsletter?

Why did we do this? Content is the current marketing fad, with copious amounts of text, images and video produced in the vain attempt to be noticed. We thought it would be useful to undertake a live example to demonstrate our pursuit of marketing metrics that matter.

‘Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.’

Content (and social media) more broadly is often an example of where marketers are often shouting into the darkness, creating activities to look busy, but with tenuous pathways towards tangible outcomes.

‘People talking without speaking, People hearing without listening’

Instead, content like any marketing tactic needs to be considered as part of a chain of activities:

  • The Input: ‘how much content have we published’
  • The Output: ‘Who has read/seen/viewed this content’ and are they aligned to our target market?
  • The Outcome: ‘Has this content led us closer to a purchase decision?’

Very rarely does one marketing tactic alone lead to a purchase decision. Furthermore, the user could be distinct to the purchaser or influencer, requiring the ability to engage and motivate multiple stakeholders.

Content that does not reach its audience, or is not part of the decision-making process, will not lead to a purchase intent.

Is your content aligned to the decision-making processes of your target stakeholders?

Does content have a role in marketing? It does, if there is an understanding of where it supports the journey from acquisition to commitment and through to retention. Treat social media with similar caution; it is extremely easy to spend resources on social or content and not generate a suitable return.

‘And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement hall” and whispered in the sounds of silence

What impact have we had from a six-month absence from content? Nil, in terms of project commitment and deployment.

What role does content serve for us? Our marketing metrics highlight (and this experiment now verifies) that content is part of our broader stakeholder engagement. Our role for content is public relations through supporting our position on Marketing Governance.

Always understand your market before executing marketing tactics. How do you use content and what gaps exist? Complete our short two-minute questionnaire to find out.

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Anne maree says:

    Although our business has only used digital marketing through working with Natalia we now recognise the value of forming appropriate relationships and credibility with key stakeholders in the community
    Many thanks to Natalia and Alex

    • Alex Makin says:

      Hello Anne Maree

      Thank you very much for your comments, was a pleasure working with you on developing the marketing direction for your business. Given the nature of your services, focusing on relationships and building stakeholder engagement will reinforce your credibility and value.





  • Wait….you take the bold step of stopping your content and social media for six months, and then give us only one line about the results?!? So many questions!

    I would like to have seen more analysis of why you think it had no visible effect on your “projects and commitments,” and more data on the experiment itself. For example, how long is your typical sales cycle? Were many of those conversions that landed during the six months from entities who had already been exposed to your content and/or social before you cut it off? Was there any gradual decline in new leads toward the end of the six months or did it remain steady throughout? If many of your new leads were actually originated during the six months, where did they come from if not from content or social?

    • Alex Makin says:


      Thank you for your comments, our the point is that marketers need to use the right tools for the right job. There is a substantial amount of marketing resources allocated to content without considering whether other channels or activities may be more effective.

      To expand on the findings:

      Our project lead cycle is three months on average. Commitments within the first half of 2017 have been from entities that have not had a prior relationship through content or social. Lead generation has increased by refocusing our team on meeting key personnel through events and directly.

      There is a role for content, just as there is a role for other marketing activities. Often the missing component are the strategies required to link relevant tools across the decision making processes (or journeys).



  • A very interesting article indeed

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