10 Jul It’s all about what you say
One of the most talked about phrases in marketing at the moment is ‘content marketing’. The concept has many aliases from ‘custom publishing’ to ‘customer media’ to ‘branded content’, but the recent rebranding of customer publishing trade body, the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA) to the Content Marketing Association (CMA), suggests ‘content marketing’ is now the phrase to use.
Content marketing is an effective way of engaging customers when they are potential leads, during the sales, and after they have become a customer. It is holistic in its approach; not only in when in the buying cycle it impacts a customer, but in the media spaces it affects: bought, owned and earned. Successful content marketing does not simply provide a presence in these media spaces, it integrates the three.
With some brands even using the digitalisation of branded content to become media owners themselves, for example Procter and Gamble’s new free-to-access online beauty magazine, it seems content marketing is only going to get bigger. But it’s not about ownership, it’s about creating the right content for your audience and then publishing it in the right place at the right time.
In the age of social media, when anyone and everyone can publish their own content, it is easy to have the misconception that content marketing has become simple. In fact, the additional marketing channels have arguably had the opposite effect. Generating the right volume of content for the various media platforms – not just Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, but your blog, ads, direct marketing, brochures and press releases too – is a challenge in itself. Once the issue of quality is factored in, this challenge becomes a considerably more complex.
More so than ever before, it is not enough to have a lot of content, it has to be high quality too. Now this may sound obvious, but look at the vast array of companies still creating large amounts of poor content, splashing it all over the web and trying to convince the search engines of their authority. With humans more intelligent than even the most-advanced search engine, and with search-engines increasingly wising up to such activity, this is by no means the most effective way of winning over customers. In the words of Lyndsay Menzies, LBi’s chief media officer, ‘there is no shortcut to being authoritative, short of being truly authoritative.’
Consumers have an insatiable appetite for content, but only if it is of the right quality. Here’s some of my tips to creating good quality content:
– Think like a customer. Don’t just talk about ‘me, me, me’ – customers don’t care about us, they care about themselves.
– Don’t be too ‘salesy’. Why would people want to keep reading advertising messages? Think about what people want to read, listen or view, and what’s in it for them. People respond much more positively to information that is beneficial and useful to them.
– Keep it relevant. In today’s fast-paced environment, that’s not always easy. But why would people want to read content they’ve seen before or that was relevant several months or years ago. You have to strike a chord with the consumers’ life now to make a real impact.
– Be creative. Regardless of what channel you use, the success of content ultimately comes down to the strength of an idea.
– Address subjects head on, even if they’re uncomfortable. The number one rule in social media, which should apply to content marketing too, is to not avoid negative comments and feedback, but address and reply to them. Consumers respond much better to organisations that appear to be open and honest.
– Make it clear when you are selling to readers. ‘Branded entertainment’ is an incredibly powerful tool in content marketing, and social media in particular. But to appear open and honest, making it clear when you are selling to readers and when you are simply entertaining them is essential.
Once time, money and imagination has been invested in to creating good quality content, the success of your content marketing strategy ultimately depends on intelligent use of the bought, owned and earned media spaces. Good content can be a highly flexible set of assets that are usable across a multitude of platforms, and a multi-channel approach opens massive opportunity to engage new audiences and relate to customers in different ways.
For many businesses this will necessitate a cultural change. Content marketing is almost the opposite of traditional advertising, where the brand controls every second. Content marketing involves a dialogue between business and customer, and to generate the desired fast-paced response, a shift from command-and-control style of management, to allowing people to use their initiative is imperative. For a lot of businesses, an agency that can generate and repurpose quality content is the least complicated and most cost-effective solution. At RONIN, we keep many of our client’s digital and printed channels fresh, up-to-date and accurate.
Development and management of content are at the heart of contemporary marketing, and those who do not focus on creating good content and effectively using it, will miss many opportunities and inevitably get left behind.
Last image courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net