In the hypothetical Marketing History Book of the future, the year 2014 will be remembered by a single 3-word phrase: “Content is King”.
We are in the midst of frenzy amongst brand custodians who, having caught wind that their businesses themselves should become content publishers, are scrambling to ensure that they push out as much content on as many platforms as possible… and therein lies the problem.
Reading the above, one may think that I am averse to the concept of content marketing; but this is not the case. I am a strong advocate of creating meaningful content - content that adds value. Consumers look at what interests them, and as such, created content should augment the users’ experience, not interrupt it.
Unfortunately, there is a major gap between acknowledging the importance of content and understanding what is required to capitalise upon it. Many brand custodians are falling into one of two categories:
1) The Narcissists. These assume that ‘content creation’ means talking about their brand, their achievements, and their products or services.
2) The Metrics-Obsessed. These create content for the sake of having published something; regardless of its relevance to the brand or audience. The sheer amount of content (and how many likes/shares/retweets/pins it gets) overshadows the value of the content itself.
Thankfully, there are a number of simple considerations that can dramatically improve the quality of content being produced. Already being practiced by social-savvy brands, these principles can redirect the misguided to an approach that puts both the brand and the content-consumers in a win-win situation.
1) Your brand is not the center of the universe: Realise that people do not care about your brand as much as you do.
2) People generally don’t like invasive advertising: It gets in the way of what they actually want to see or hear.
3) People tune into media outlets of their choosing and tune out those they are not interested in: The blogs they read, the twitter accounts they follow, and the sites they check regularly, all offer value to their daily lives.
4) Treat your content like one of your offerings: In the same way that your products or services should offer value, so should your content. Put as much effort into the creation of your content as you do with the creation of your products or services.
5) To gain and retain business, keep content relevant, entertaining, or useful: Consumers derive value if they find your content to be relevant, entertaining, or genuinely useful. It is through this value that you can naturally engage attention, generate customer-centric experiences, and build deeper relationships. Through consistently delivering value to your customers, you gain their trust, and accordingly, gain their business and retain their loyalty.
6) Location, location, location: Think about where your content is appearing, and the audience of that channel. If this article appeared in a pharmaceuticals trade publication instead of here, it would not be offering the audience value.
7) Everyone is after attention: You are not just competing with the brands that sell the same products or services as you do, you are contending with everyone that has something interesting to communicate.
8) Be timely: Show agility and react quickly to take advantage of current events. Avoid jumping on the bandwagon too late or forcing content, but consider the value you can offer in the context of the macro-environment.
9) Share insights in your field of expertise: What added value, that cannot be obtained elsewhere, can you – by virtue of who you are – offer your consumers? Offer insights based on your business’ unique value proposition and create content that lies at the intersection of your expertise and the interests or needs of your customers.
10) Have a plan: Content marketing is about storytelling. You must have a clear understanding of your audience and of the environment. Plan in advance, and continuously adjust your plan to improve your relevance based on marketplace changes in the audience and the environment.
Follow these principles, and you will be reaping the rewards of an engaged audience, stronger brand equity, and greater customer loyalty. Ignore them, and consumers will tune out your content marketing efforts the same way they have tuned out traditional marketing.
Amr Sallam is an Account Manager at PG Integrated, Jeddah. His fascination with forming a deeper understanding of cultures and the triggers that influence and motivate behaviour has augmented his brand building efforts.