What is content marketing?
There are plenty of great sources for defining what is content marketing, and none better than the entry in Wikipedia:
Content marketing is “the creation and sharing of content in order to attract, acquire and engage clearly defined and understood current and potential consumer bases with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Where to start your branded content marketing
Some brands have made the mindset shift in developing content marketing. But, for most others, they struggle with the absence of a clear ROI, a lack of resources (linked to the difficulty to generate a long-term strategy) and an inhouse talent pool that is weak in journalistic skills. The trick is to consider oneself as a publisher, much like a media company, with assets that are audio, video and text. The starting point for compelling content needs to be with your end customers, being in their shoes. Empathy is a fundamental component to getting to the heart of the customer’s key preoccupations. The example I like to cite is the insurance company that launches a blog, not to flog more of its insurance products, but to write instead about how homeowners can render their home safer, more ecological, more economical, etc. In other words, to focus on the end customers genuine concerns.
By creating valid and valuable insights, information and instruction, a brand is likely to build up its trust factor. Moreover, if the content leads to dynamic questions and answer sessions, the greater the level of engagement can become.
What goes in to making the content compelling?
What does compelling content typically contain? Most likely, it should contain one or a combination of the following 3 E’s:
- Education (e.g. how to…)
- Entertainment (e.g. fun)
- Emotion (e.g. delight)
Integrating into an effective digital marketing campaign
Many people understand philosophically or intellectually that, by creating compelling content, a brand can enhance image, invite engagement and favor word of mouth. The issue is that there exists the Pavlovian reflex of old-fashioned marketers to throw money at the content making.
The problem is that such a strategy is not only cost ineffective over time, it creates opportunity for disconnect and disappointment. A content marketing strategy is only a part of the mix. And, in order to succeed, it is vital to mesh the content that a brand publishes into the overall marketing strategy. Just as one’s social media presence needs to be integrated into the overall marketing and communications plan up front, so too must the published content (on whichever platforms) gain visibility and be embedded within other marketing outlets. For example, the sales team must be kept up to date in order to be able to “sell” the content (or at least generate e-footfall).
A road map
Creating compelling content over an extended period of time is no mean feat. I would argue that most companies are unable to create that compelling content and engage in a compelling conversation. Here is a preliminary roadmap for creating a digital marketing strategy with compelling content:
- Figure out your objective(s) and some relevant and measurable goals, aligned with the overall business purpose. An often overlooked component is the manner in which the results of a digital marketing campaign are reported. The simpler that report is, the more likely the senior team will continue to stay engaged!
- Seek out the best talent to provide that content and include them in the process from the get-go. For larger organizations, it would be appropriate to consider an editorial committee that is cross-departmental. Individuals with journalistic flair or who already have their own blog are good candidates.
- Evaluate and categorize the existing assets (text, images and video) available as part of the content. It is generally very useful to create a consistent tagging system. For larger organizations, one could easily imagine creating a catalogue in the cloud.
- The platforms. There are a wide array of platforms from which to choose. I believe a combination of platforms — according to where the target audience interacts — is most beneficial. Specifically, some platforms accommodate better certain types of assets (e.g. photos on Facebook, Instagram…)
- Craft an editorial calendar that includes a variety of content to test out what works. NB The calendar must be a working document and be flexible. Specifically, sometimes most content will be much more pertinent according to the context. And some opportunities present themselves via current events.
- Carve out the necessary resources (people, time & money) to keep a sustained program. Integrating the content marketing objectives into the individual’s G&Os is recommendable.
- Actively seek out members of your broader network (community if there is one) to contribute and/or participate.
- Establish “Moments of Learning” where by the editorial team can take stock and learn from its past as well as benchmark against the fundamental objectives.