In pursuing the thinking that ‘Content is King’ you could end up wearing The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Brands have been persuaded by advertising and SEO experts that content is the latest and greatest silver bullet, so they’ve created the best new content outfits they can afford. Problem is, in today’s digital world consumers often never see the content, no matter how flash it is, if it hasn’t been developed as part of a well thought-out content marketing strategy.
The ‘Content is King’ approach uses a traditional mass-market advertising development process. A ‘big idea’ is developed which is used to create a piece of clever content, then a media company places it where it will disrupt the consumer the most. While this approach can achieve traditional results, it usually fails to achieve the key goal of a good content marketing strategy - measurable sales conversions.
Individual pieces of content aren’t ‘King’. But smart, sound content marketing strategies are, and they will deliver on the promise of marketing riches if approached the right way.
Content is better thought of like a gift. To buy someone the perfect gift requires careful thought and consideration. You have to know the person well and understand their likes and dislikes. While we intuitively do this for people we know, we need to work a little harder to get it right for the range of different consumer segments a business may have. The place to start is with the huge range of consumer data available to most businesses including: web traffic analytics; email reporting data; social media reporting; CRM data; customer surveys; public records; etc. When this information is combined with market knowledge, comprehensive profiles of key consumer segments and their habits and behaviours can be developed.
Consumer profiles can then be used to develop models that help identify the information consumers search for throughout the purchase process. Like the gifts you give loved ones, sometimes it's the thought that counts more than anything. So when developing content as part of a sound content marketing strategy, there’s no need to blow the budget on one or two pieces of ‘over the top’ content. It’s far better to develop a range of content, big and small, that’s relevant to each consumer segment at each stage in the purchase process.
With a strategy in place, the content plan completed and appropriate content created, the next step is to place invitations to the content. For a gift to be truly appreciated it needs to beautifully wrapped with a card telling the recipient who it’s from. Content gifts are no different. A good content marketing strategy places invitations in context and ensures the recipients know who to attribute them to: customise them to fit with the context of the places that the invitation is being used; and like a card, branding lets the recipient know who the gift is from and who to thank. If your invitation is appreciated, this is where a previously unidentified person in your consumer segment becomes a potential prospect.
Once a potential prospect is identified it’s vital that they are followed through the purchase process and targeted where possible with relevant content appropriate to their stage in the purchase process. This process gives a brand an opportunity to not just build awareness, but to build trust with a consumer. It also gives the brand the ability to evaluate the potential business opportunity and calculate the right time to open a direct conversation.
As part of a content marketing strategy, a brand needs to develop a digital marketing platform capable of managing engagement with content and interactions with consumers (and the reporting and analytics that go along with this). Without a platform to manage engagement, it’s extremely difficult and labour intensive to know what content a prospect has come across. It’s also difficult to understand the right time to directly engage a prospect if there’s no record of the content they’ve viewed.
A good content marketing strategy uses the available budget to give the most relevant and valued gifts to the people who will appreciate them the most. A good digital platform is the way to manage what’s been given to whom and when. Content is a gift – handle it with care.