The state of content marketing

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Presented at the Convergence 2014 event.

The key message from this presentation is: Relevant content + Right time + Right channel

In the 1900’s, one to one marketing was effectively the shop keeper servicing a set of customers he knew very well, moving forward 90 years and the first web browsers emerged enabling people to read your content on the web and so reaching a much wider audience; this was a one way street though as the organisation did not know the customer, had no way to control contact with the customer and could not be track or assist the customer though the buying journey.

In the early 90’s, some magazines included a small card that could be filled in with what a reader would like information on from the magazine; for example, a person interested in buying a new freezer could select that item on the card, post it off and at some point in the future a brochure would arrive. These cards would traditionally be batched up and sent to the relevant departments when sufficient numbers were received. What would invariably happen is that the customer would receive the information weeks after making the purchase! A simple change to this process involved dealing with the cards as they arrived and posting out brochures immediately, this helped the customer through the buying decision – an example of the content/time/channel equation.

So what are the challenges of content marketing today?

  • Silo in Marketing (Sales, Social, PR, Digital etc.) – all creating and decimating content to the same targets – “random acts of content”.
  • Limited resources in organisation, multiple silos producing content – expensive.
  • Tools are great, but they don’t create strategy or content on their own.

Addressing these challenges, what are the opportunities?

  • Efficiently Leverage resources.
  • Build brand affinity.
  • Build a social community.
  • Be more responsive and engaged.
  • Generate demand and new leads.
  • Cross and up sell.

A content strategy involves marketing, communications and technology; it’s not just about the content!

Know thy Brand:

  • Do you have a clearly defined brand identity and mission?
  • Do you have a core value statement?

Essentially, what is the first thing that a customer will think about when hearing your brand? What do you think about when you think of brands like Microsoft, Apple, Nike?

Know thy Customer:

  • Understand as much about your customer as possible, you will never understand everything about the customer so just go as far as necessary.
  • Create the customer journey for each customer ‘persona’ you have identified and defined.

The content you generate must be unique, relevant and ownable.

If you borrow content, make it relevant to the target audience; don’t just retweet/resend.

What do you think about when the brands Nike and Bose are named?

Nike owns ‘authentic athletic experience’ – Think Tiger Woods, you won’t play like him, but you will feel like him; Nike deliver on this experience.

Bose owns ‘sound’; if you think Bose, you think sound; whether it be little black boxes, headphones, noise cancelling headphones … Sound.

For B-to-B, this kind of marketing may not be totally appropriate but does have relevance.

An example would be a brand like 3M, they are B-to-B and make digital display screens. They create incredible effects through the screens, they no longer aim marketing at engineers with screen specifications – They talk about experience.

 

So, how did they reach out?

  • Targeted social media campaign based on accurate customer persona creating a consistent message about the experience customers would have (and not about the screen composition etc.).
  • Consistent brand and messaging across touch-points like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and the website.
  • Measure! Test, analyse, learn and optimise.

The end result was a much larger increase in interest than the traditional strategy they previously used.

The obvious points to consider include:

  • Talk about things that are relevant to your customer.
  • What does the customer want?
  • What can I do to help the customer journey?

Technology such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM play an important role that is absolutely required today. It allows you to target, measure and connect with user communities. Importantly it is tied to the customer life cycle and provides automation which is critical in this era of marketing and communication.