Consider the changing shape of the comms industry, and you will undoubtedly come across the phrase ‘content marketing’. Content has become the ‘buzz word’ for the industry – whether you specialise in SEO, digital marketing or indeed more traditional avenues such as online advertising and PR. But what does content mean? And why is it so important?
At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, content is – in a nutshell – what makes the communications industry go round. It’s the bread and butter of the sector and it’s an essential tool to ensure brands are putting out the right message and engaging their audience; whether they’re corporates, consumers or stakeholders. So we’ve established that content is the crooks of online communications, which may – to some extent – explain why it’s such an overused term. It’s an essential element to any communications campaign. Without the content, there really is nothing to communicate online, no way to get across your message and in turn no way to build awareness, drive sales or increase footfall.
But has the industry really changed? Or is content marketing merely a new term used to dress up old school tactics? Well yes and no. Content remains at its roots, exactly that; information, a message – whether its worked up into an old school snappy strapline, or a radio jingle, the content remains. What has changed is how content is utilised. The medium in which we both push out and consume content has become ever more varied, and of course we can’t mention medium, without touching on platforms – think blogs, social media, vlogs, digital press… the list is endless.
So, final question… what is the real key to successful content marketing? Well, in short it’s entirely dependent on audience. More and more communicators are being pressed to really consider whom they’re looking to engage. The days of pushing out a press release and totting up press cuttings has long gone. The press office, whilst still relevant, is now an entirely different beast. It’s digital and it acts more as a groundswell from which a brand can maintain a presence and voice, but without strategic campaigns interweaved into the strategy, it is in some aspects a little redundant.
The audience, the consumer – whether B2B or B2C – is savvy, savvier than ever. We’re used to consuming media on mass. Generic content has become sub-standard. It just doesn’t cut the biscuit. Consumers want more, they want tailored messaging, something they can relate to, and something they can truly feel engaged with. And so we see the rise of lifestyle content within the B2B market becoming more successful, and very personalised and strategically relatable content for the B2C market becoming nothing short of essential.
There are four elements to successful content marketing:
- First and foremost you audience – what do they want to see? What is it that really appeals to them?
- Secondly, your messaging – how can you make your message relevant? Is taking an indirect approach more effective in the long term?
- Third comes the platform – how can you access your audience? Do they read online news…? Or are they more proactive across social platforms? Perhaps they’re not proactive across traditional social platforms at all? If so, how are they engaging with brands across the web, is it via online communities, local groups, podcasts?
- Finally comes the content – once the former points have been established, only then can you really consider how you can create and indeed market your digital content to your audience
Content marketing is developing and ever changing. But, other than mediums changing to adapt to platform updates and launches, the core principle remains the same: Always consider your audience.