Success in Content Marketing is getting the basics right

MD Gavin Miller reminds us of the basics of in our fast-paced world of content marketing

You’ll know the story by now of an energy drink that became a brand that then invested in sports sponsorship that then became a stronger brand that then extended into content marketing and is now a multi-platform publisher – with an energy drink in its portfolio. Who is it?

It’s Red Bull.

What’s more, Red Bull recently invited third party brands such as Adidas to engage with its own audience: so it’s a brand but also a content marketing agency.

But just as brands are becoming publishers (Red Bull, Vue, Net-­‐a Porter) publishers are also becoming agencies (Bauer’s Adventure, Guardian Labs, Telegraph’s Spark) and agencies have become publishers (Buzzfeed, Vice).

It’s all to play for in our vibrant world of content marketing.

“What satisfies customers today will not satisfy them tomorrow,” said marketing guru and author Peter Doyle back in 1998. “Nothing is more certain than a firm’s current products, technology, distribution channels and market position will become obsolete.”

And so it is in our world of content marketing.

But the consequence of change that Doyle wouldn’t have anticipated at the time is the ever-­increasing speed of change: our ability to keep up with what’s changing and our ability to understand its impact and relevance.

As a consequence, it’s not only easy to get caught up in shiny and new trends, new facts, new fads and new technologies but also in the complexity of the here and now.

What is branded content and how is it different from native advertising? I keep on hearing about ‘sentiment’ social listening tools. What is it and how do I apply it to my business? Is real-­‐time content here to stay and what’s the difference between Meerkat and Periscope? Video content I’m told is the future but we engage with our audience through print and online. Should we blog, vlog or stick with emails? Should we distribute content through our owned communication channels or Facebook or Taboola?

So whilst it feels noisy and complicated, don’t forget the four basic fundamentals of content marketing:

Know your audience. Understanding your audience through data and insight is key – demographics whilst informative, is mostly redundant. Understanding attitudes, lifestyles, online and offline consumption, cultures and mindsets will provide the platform from which to create and curate great content.

Content is not just King, but the whole deck of cards. Great content is not just born out of knowing your audience. It’s also a craft. Anyone can produce content, but not anyone can create relevant, engaging, compelling and ‘stand out and be noticed’ content. Content Marketing will be shaped by the fusion of editorial expertise and audience guardians.

Build and they will come?

Oh no they won’t. Creating content is one thing, but distributing and marketing it to audiences is quite another. Also, it’s not a linear process, but should be a joined up and single integrated content marketing and distribution plan defined from the outset: who is my audience, what am I offering, where will I find them, how do I engage with them, what content will work best, what channels can I reach them through.

Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate:

The key platform for success: measurement. All too often the evaluation piece gets lost in the celebration of producing great content. But did it work? Critical to making a success of your content marketing programme is defining success from the outset as part of a joined-up content marketing and distribution plan: what do you want the content to do, how do you want to measure it, what results are you expecting?

But in our fast-moving and ever-changing world of content marketing, there is a fifth basic fundamental emerging: Harness the power of knowledge and learning.

There is a danger that digital transformation rests with digital ‘experts’ and teams. It shouldn’t. The speed of change in our world of content marketing means that everyone across an organization (sales, finance, creative, marketing, operations) should be provided with the tools to monitor, understand, filter, share and apply what’s changing. Success for business lies in involving the many, not the few.

We are certainly witnessing and experiencing a fundamental change in our world of content marketing and at an increasingly faster pace. But whilst it is certainly a vibrant, dynamic, innovative and ‘noisy’ market, the platform for success lies in getting the basics right.