In a recent post (that began with our anticipation for the start of Mad Men season 6, which by the way, was as good as we wanted it to be), we talked about the importance of going beyond the â€śclickâ€ť (or â€śLikeâ€ť) to develop brand stories that create authentic engagement with customers.
There is no longer (if there ever was) a linear path between awareness, acquisition, loyalty, and retention.Â With our access to information, all of these decisions and actions are happening in real-time, so we need to keep customers (and potential customers) engaged all the time.
The brands that best go â€śbeyond first clickâ€ť have done more than good social media. They have changed the core of how they approach marketing. They plan and execute a content strategy – thinking like creators, rather than like advertisers. They are creating content that builds a single brand story, across all platforms, in the real and digital worlds, in a way that appears seamless to the consumer.
Those that are braving this new approach have had a lot to overcome.Â In our last postÂ we noted the organizational challenges.Â But building a content strategy is also challenging for how marketers think about their business.Â Â Advertising goes in campaigns, and there are planning and review and revision and execution times. Â Content doesn’t – content is 24/7, a relentless beast that needs to be fed consistently.
To feed the beast, marketers have to live with imperfection and uncertainty more than ever before.Â They need to be making new, relevant and interesting content all the time, every day, related to what their brand stands for, and what their brand is doing. Â When faced with creating content, we all wonder what to say, and how to make sure what weâ€™re creating is good enough. The real challenge with a content strategy isnâ€™t so much that the beast needs to be fed, itâ€™s more about overcoming the fear of our ability to create, uncertainty about what works, and doubt about whether anyone is listening. The cool part about this new world of content strategy is that we have the opportunity to see over time what people find compelling, what breaks through and what might actually motivate customers to act.
There are FIVE THINGS to think about when cooking up food for the beast:
1.) You are making content so people will not only engage with it but share it, and that means it has to have value for them – so make it FOR them rather than ABOUT you.
A great example is the latest from the Dove Real Beauty campaign:
2.) Variety is more important than consistency â€“ you never know what will get peopleâ€™s attention.
3.) Some of the most engaging content is not professionally produced â€“ the bar is high for whatâ€™s compelling, but lower than you think for how itâ€™s made.
4.) Creating something quickly that reflects/comments/plays off of current events can make your brand relevant, even when a connection isnâ€™t obvious.
5.) And most importantly, donâ€™t try to do everything yourself â€“ the best case scenario is to involve your customers in creating content about your brand, and then finding ways (and confidence) to use what they create.
The book on best practices in content strategy is being written right now by brands that are brave enough to open their minds to what and where great content can come from.Â One of the best examples of content strategy as marketing strategy is coming from GoPro. Â Yes, they create cameras â€“ a product that lends itself to storytelling a bit easier to content than foot cream or socks. Â But they recognize how valuable content is, whether they create it or their customers do. Â Instead of shying away from that “non-premium user-generated stuff”, they encouraged it. Â They are engaging their customers to participate in building the story of the brand, which is therefore building their brand authentically based on how customers use their products (rather than a set of proof points and details, like we might see in an ad campaign).
The content beast is here, and here to stay as one of the primary ways to authentically connect with your customers, cut through the noise and go beyond the â€śclickâ€ť.Â Itâ€™s up to you to decide if your brand is willing to feed the beast, even if it requires an approach to marketing that is a little scary, and a little uncomfortable. What can you do in 2013 to build the story of your brand through content that will engage your customer, rather than simply trying to persuade them through advertising?
Deirdre Davi, Sterling Strategy