Below is the transcript of an actual ‘online chat’ I had with a multi-billion global tech business the other day.
It took place over more than half an hour and followed 45 minutes of trawling the web, unsuccessfully, for a phone number (ANY phone number) for said company (which, by the by, is a leader in *ahem* telephony solutions.)
The names have been changed/omitted to protect the not so innocent…
Oleg (Online agent): Hello. How can I help you today?
Me: Hey there… I can’t seem to find a phone number for [his company]? Not even a switchboard?
Oleg: There’s a list of contacts on our website… Can I help you with anything?
Me: It seems rather well hidden :)… Could you just ping me a number please?
Oleg: Sure: http://blahblahblahblah.EnterpriseContacts
Me: Ah ok… I’ve already tried that link… it doesn’t work
Oleg: I’m in the marketing/sales dept… Is there anything I can assist you with?
Me: Yeah, a phone number for your PR agency or internal PR team?
Oleg: PR is located in our head office in Xxxxxx… I believe (sic.)
Me: Okay, can you give me a name and number?
Oleg: Your best bet is to mail email@example.com
Me (eyebrows now full Roger Moore stylee): Erm, well it’s pretty urgent actually… Couldn’t you just give me a name and number?
Oleg: Sorry, I don’t have that info
Me: Okay… how about just a central switchboard number?
Oleg: Please try the email and / or call our local office
Me: Um, okay… can I have THAT number?
(Several minutes later…)
Oleg: 01 XXX XXXXX
Me: Thank you…
Online agent: No problem… good luck (… good luck!!?)
Notice: Oleg exited session.
Incredulity rising, I call the number. It rings for some time. A disembodied voice tells me that *the other person has hung up*. I swear a bit. I call back. They answer. Cool.
“Sorry. Don’t work for marketing. Can’t help.”
Is there someone that can?
“Er… hold on…”
*The other person has hung up*
I hang up too. I swear a bit more. Then the irony hits me and I laugh. Someone has actively and deliberately decided to stop people calling a telephony company.
Fair enough. But what’s it all got to do with content marketing? A phone number? That hardly qualifies as ‘content’ surely?
Well no, probably not. Which is, of course, precisely the problem.
It wasn’t the phone number or lack thereof; I’m not that precious (okay maybe I am.) But the whole thing brought home to me once and for all what an utter nonsense the whole content marketing debate can be at times.
Legions of marketeers engaging in endless navel contemplation as to what does and doesn’t constitute ‘content’. When it’s not their decision, but the customer’s.
A telephony giant that doesn’t provide a telephone number on its website?
It doesn’t take a content marketing genius to work out the folly there.
The worst of it? This kind of thing is surprisingly typical right now…
It’s an object lesson in the fact that content is always defined by context.