Motive: Content marketing within the larger marketing strategy
by Carl Jordan. Content marketing is firmly established as an essential channel within the marketing mix, alongside display, search and social. But what is content marketing? The reality is that, within the digital ecosystem, content marketing means different things to different participants — brands, agencies, publishers and sellers — as content takes many forms and so the objective of each item of content may be different.
Here’s an infographic that bests illustrate this principle:
Nonetheless, regardless of these differences, the practice of content marketing is best defined as follows: “Using content, rather than advertising, to differentiate your brand and to reach, acquire and retain customers”.
So where does content marketing fit into the larger marketing strategy?
Consumer have more control than ever before
As we all acknowledge, consumers have more control than ever before in terms of what, when and how they consume advertising. This means that, in the age of multiple devices and screens, content marketing is essential to any brand’s customer-engagement strategy.
Brands which provide consumers with high-quality information (in whichever format) and don’t ask for anything in return (fair value-exchange) enable authenticity; this is the first touchpoint to building relationships with those consumers. For example, if Bank X provides information regarding bond advice and how to choose a bond package that reflects one’s financial lifestyle, we can be certain that, when the consumer decides to take out a bond, then more than likely Bank X will be that consumer’s first port of call.
The normal rules of engagement then apply: product range, price point, customer service experience and, generally, the brand in question making it comfortable (easy) for the customer to do business with it (conversion).
Budget and responsibility
Where should content marketing sit within a marketing department (PR, digital, the ad agency)? Who is giving up budget and taking responsibility? Content marketing should sit with the brand, and the budget should come from brand and product.
Content is a great engagement tool to build a company’s brand and enable it to sell products and, as such, in an ideal world, budget should be made available from each segment within the business. For example, think Dove, Red Bull and Volvo which have all, over many years, executed high-profile content marketing campaigns that have enabled them to build their brand (by being authentic) and, by extension, this emotional connection with the consumer has driven their product sales.
Nonetheless, in the real world, we also know that ‘advertising’ is dynamic and not a straight line; budgets are not always available from brand, product or both. This means a brand’s marketing/ PR department also plays a critical role in terms of collating all of its company’s content — owned and earned (positive) — and making sure it is accessible to its digital/media/ad agency for the relevant campaigns, as and when applicable.
Don’t be discouraged
Even if your brand /client doesn’t have a Red Bull-style content library, don’t be discouraged by the perceived absence of content. Whomever you are in the advertising ecosystem — brand manager/head of marketing/digital creative/technology platform provider — you will be very surprised how much earned media is ‘out there’ about any given brand. All of this earned media is easily discoverable via platforms such as Google or LinkedIn. Brands should never think because ‘we’ did not create the content, it cannot be authentic, valuable or useful’ —when at work, think about how, as a consumer, you often read a review before purchasing the item in question.
Earned media in particular is incredibly effective. Why? Because it is authentic (for the consumer) and has the added benefit of being free (which creates a win-win for the brand and agency). Just remember to give credit where credit is due: plagiarism and violating copyright fair use are a no-no.
Carl Jordan is an advertising technology specialist who has worked for Yahoo UK, Google UK and Thomson Reuters UK, and who successfully took Outbrain’s content marketing platform to market in South Africa. He has over 16 years’ experience in selling advertising technology solutions to media and digital agencies, brands and publishers. Carl will be speaking at the IAB Digital Summit, 3 March 2016, Johannesburg.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.
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