In the words of the award-winning speaker and web marketing guru Marcus Sheridan, “Great content is the best sales tool in the world.” Today’s consumers have a strong appetite for good information but a more powerful resistance to the so called “hard sell”. People want good content media marketing that helps them make good decisions, but don’t like being ‘sold to’. Consumers are less responsive to traditional advertising and old school tactics, in fact one study points out that 70% of the consumers prefer to learn about the companies through articles instead of advertising. This especially holds true in today’s world, where good content has become the key to relevance, popularity, awareness, and engagement.
Content marketing lies at the heart of most marketing campaigns, by helping organisations connect with their audience through a wealth of valuable, insightful content that is relevant to the brand. So how does one define this discipline. The Content marketing institute defines this as a strategic approach focussed on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience- and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.
Ways of creating content: Creation, Co-creation and Curation
The content marketing eco-system is built around creation, co-creation and curation. While the value of having one’s, own content can never be dismissed, it isn’t always viable, owing to constraints of money, time, and effort. Thus, Content Curation, which involves the careful accumulation of relevant and useful content from various sources, adding one’s own perspective and views to it, and sharing it with one’s audience, has become the way to go, today. Content Co-Creation, another popular form of content media marketing, involves a company working with a partner or sponsor, where the two jointly co-create content that works for both parties concerned, be it through their philosophy, ethos or brand proposition. Content creation is about bringing alive the brand story from conceptualising to final execution of the idea and is generally funded entirely by the brand. It complements the brand’s marketing strategy.
Content creation is about bringing alive the brand story from conceptualising to final execution of the idea and is generally funded entirely by the brand
When there is creation from the start, the focus is more brand out, but in the case of co-creation it’s a win-win for channel and brand. Not only does this open the possibility of sponsorship by an established channel or other medium, it merges the audience of the two, and makes the content valuable for the viewers, which results in high connectivity. Today, creation, co-creation and curation have become essential parts of overall content marketing, and are being utilised by several organisations to establish and maintain their connection with their audience.
Framework of arriving at Content – Hero- Hub-Hygiene
Content marketing of today can be categorised into three types based on the Hero-Hub-Hygiene model.
- Hero Content: Hugely responsible for viral marketing, the Hero model involves a blog, article, or video, in which the organisation invests considerable time, money, and effort, and can reach a wide target group, owing to the sensational nature of it. (As the name suggests, a big annual/bi-annual property creation / event based content)
- The Hub model, on the other hand, specifically focuses on the interests of one’s target group, where the content is actively pushed to these users at regular intervals. This allows the company to aggressively lead the target group, and ensure that it remains relevant. (More consumer interests/passions focused)
- As for the Hygiene model, organisations churn out relevant content, regularly, even daily, aimed at searches carried out by the target group. This helps draws visitors, especially through search engines. (more brand focussed).
Content media marketing follows the “Seek” method, then the “Interrupt” model
While the birth of content marketing began with textual content, in the form of articles, print advertisements, and the like, there has been a marked shift to video content in the recent years. As per reports, around 45 percent of users watch more than an hour of video content each day, across various platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and others. This presents an excellent opportunity for companies to engage customers through highly personalised, targeted videos, which are designed specifically to appeal to them, while giving the brand a human touch. FCT, or Free commercial time, which refers to the amount of time bought on a channel by a brand, is also giving way to content marketing, as it follows the ‘Interrupt to Seek’ model of content marketing.
Concept of “Interrupt to Seek”
Content marketing follows the “Seek” method, then the “Interrupt” model followed till now, where content is created based on the customer’s needs, with the promotional angle sewn into it subtly. Not only does this allow the company to possess intellectual property of its own, it also adds value to the content and makes it informative, by itself, which makes users interested in viewing it.
Trends show that users consume several kinds of content across various platforms simultaneously, which opens possibilities for interconnected content marketing that can engage multiple users through one another. As a result, there has been a rapid rise in the need for more content, prompting brands to experiment with newer platforms powered by advanced technology. From virtual and augmented reality to AI-led analytics and more, the new content marketing ecosystem is ever evolving, and becoming more personalised by the day.
The ecosystem has mushroomed into seeing a lot of action in the content space. It’s great to see marketers understand the importance of content marketing and have budgets set aside for this new discipline which intuitively seems to be a better bet than conventional advertising. What’s important is to get the measurement story built in strongly for all the creation of content that we see in the eco-system. We do see metrics like UV, Page views, Bounce rate, Inbound links, engagement etc. being measured however what’s critical to see is the impact on sales, impact of driving business outcomes for clients.
Let me summarise with a quote from Robert Rose Chief Strategist CMI “Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one”
Anita Kotwani is the Senior Vice President for New Business at Mindshare. She has over 22 years of experience in the media industry. Views expressed are author’s own.