Q: Why is content marketing suddenly being talked about?
A: Content marketing isn’t a new thing, it’s been around even before Michelin created its guides, or Procter & Gamble essentially created the soap opera. But there have been fundamental changes in consumer and brand behaviour brought about by the digital era and social media.
Now everyone has access to a publishing platform – e.g. Facebook, blogs, Twitter – and can create, engage and share content. And that means the customer is leading the conversation, asking for information (98% of searches for a product begin on Google), expecting transparency and wanting to engage with brands before they buy.
The up side, is that all brands and businesses are publishers too (Kraft, for example, is the biggest food publisher in the world) and can offer free content to their customers via their own digital platforms.
The old ‘push’ methods of marketing – direct mail, advertising, telemarketing and so on – are being challenged by ‘pull’ methods – website content, search, social media, e-newsletters, all of which the consumer engages with when they have a need or want to.
Q: Can content from a brand be credible?
A: Content marketing is all about creating relationships with customers by offering them engaging, relevant, useful and/or entertaining content. If you produce that kind of quality content, your customers will begin to connect with you as a trusted source. It’s the difference between a coffee company making an e-book on how to make the perfect cup of coffee available to a customer, or sending them a direct mail the customer did not ask for with the message ‘buy our coffee, it’s great!’ One creates trust the other often gets put in the bin.
Q: How can you create content that is engaging on an ongoing basis?
A: Producing content often becomes an ad-hoc function of a busy marketing department that is pulled in many other directions. That’s where having a content strategy behind your content marketing campaigns comes in; we use publishing methods that are more than tried and tested to ensure your content creation efforts are organised and not a burden. And to make sure that content is engaging we focus on what the ‘reader’ needs, and what unique information you can offer them.
Q: Who else is investing in content?
A: According to a Custom Content Council, three-quarters of CMOs are shifting budget away from traditional marketing to content marketing; 56% use content to educate their customers; 69% say branded content is more effective than PR or direct mail and 72% say it is more effective than magazine advertising. In short, most marketing departments are looking to content as a major component of their future campaigns.
Q: Won’t creating content be costly?
A: Creating a massive content strategy requiring hundreds of stories to be written, videos to be made and websites to be filled isn’t our aim. We will look at your objectives and then devise a plan that fits with the resources you have – we can even give you some of the publishing tools and tips we have learned to make sure producing content becomes easier. Or we can simply work within your budget if you decide to outsource content creation to us.
Q: Should content replace my other marketing efforts?
A: Joe Pulizzi, America’s leading content marketing guru, is clear on this point – content marketing will become an increasingly big part of every marketing department’s efforts, but it won’t be the only one. It needs to work alongside traditional disciplines and methods to help create a truly integrated approach. It isn’t a case of ‘either, or’ but of how you use all the marketing weapons at your disposal in a concerted effort.
Q: Shouldn’t I invest in social media instead?
A: Social media marketing is an essential part of your arsenal, but it is a channel that requires content to be effective. To understand more about how content marketing and social media marketing work together, click here.
Q: Why should I use journalists and editors instead of copywriters?
A: Journalists think about content differently to marketers, PR agencies or copywriters. Our entire focus is on the reader and their needs – and that drives every piece of content we produce. If the stories we write aren’t relevant and engaging, then we have failed our reader. Match this ability to create unique content with an understanding of marketing objectives, and you have brand journalism – which aims to meet marketing objectives using publishing methods.