The timeless truth about content marketing
Long-time sales manager Colin Garden has fielded many questions from marketers on content marketing in his time. It all boils down to one: “What’s in it for me?” The answer is an age-old truth.
Content marketing is not a new approach. John Deere pioneered the way in 1895 with the introduction of The Furrow magazine aimed at providing farmers with much-needed information on agriculture. Then, the way to connect with customers was through a printed magazine; now, 120-odd years later, there’s a veritable cornucopia of channels for customers to connect with brands and vice versa.
For many years content marketing was seen as an add-on to conventional marketing practices. A nice-to-have. Often, because of this, it wasn’t well integrated into the overall brand strategy. It was a case of “Let’s give people some content.”
And yet, despite these early muddy waters, content marketing has emerged as a vital part of marketing as brands have seen the benefits of including stories in their communications. They’ve realised that a good story holds the attention of audiences for longer periods of time than conventional advertising and gives them a better opportunity to connect with their customers and potential customers.
The times they are a-changin’
As times have changed, so have the number of mediums and channels a customer is exposed to every day. Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages. Consequently, they’ve begun to adjust their consumption behaviour to avoid information overload, becoming very savvy. They can spot an advertising “push” a mile away and have grown wary of marketing wolves in sheeps’ clothes.
So brands can no longer afford to include “generic” content in communication. The way to drive a deep and lasting connection is to answer the question: “What do our customers really want to hear from us?”
The answer is often not what we expect and it may not be what you always want to hear, but it provides the basis for a true content marketing strategy that is about delivering great, engaging and real content that customers want to consume. It is no longer about simply keeping their attention to get them to see our brands and products; it’s a longer-term approach that aims at building trust and loyalty. You can see why campaign thinking isn’t going to cut it.
At this point you may be asking: “As this isn’t focused on promoting my company and products, what is the benefit and how will content marketing increase my bottom line?”
It’s about providing your customers and potential customers with the content they want and need to empower them to make a decision and then presenting them with the solution. The brands that are really good at it, such as Red Bull, have content at the centre of their marketing strategy.
Consistently connecting through storytelling
When done well and strategically as an integral element of the brand communication strategy, content marketing will define your company as the market leader so that when the customer is ready, they trust your brand enough to buy from you. And, because content marketing is about consistently connecting through storytelling, it’s ultimately about building loyalty so they’ll buy from you again… and again…