We’d all love to have a brand like this … where people queue to get our latest products.
Or a celebrity brand like this … where the media lines up and hangs on every word.
But most of us have brands that are more like this. So how do you use content to sell something that people aren’t really interested in?
That was the problem that faced the Michelin brothers, Edouard and Andre, in France in 1900. Back then, there were only 3500 cars in France. They had developed world-beating tyre technology, but how could they tell people – and who would want to know anyway?But the Michelin brothers had an insight. Information, or the lack of it, was slowing growth of the market for cars. So they decided to fill it and the famous Michelin Guide was born.The Michelins’ insight was to use content that their customers wanted to make driving easier and more enjoyable, and to subtly slip in their marketing messages. This would help grow the market for cars – and their tyres.Instead of talking directly about what they wanted to – tyres – they filled their guides with what their customers and future customers would want to know – where to stay, where to eat, where to find petrol and yes, tyres.Through their guides, the Michelin brand was there when their product was needed.
And 100 years later, it’s still paying big dividends.
Telecom faced a similar challenge.There were information barriers to a new market’s growth (internet-connected smartphones)And a product (mobile data) that people weren’t interested in hearing about – or didn’t even know they needed.Solution:(1) Create useful content (2) to grow a market (3) by solving a problem that’s slowing growth
We’re hearing about content marketing as if it’s something new. But as we’ve seen, it’s not new – it has a long pedigree.What is new is the internet.It gives userscontrol over (interruptive) advertising.But, it also gives brandsthe ability to beat this by becoming publishers.
So let’s try our hand at a definition – What is content marketing?One definition:To sell products people probably don’t want to hear about (tyres, mobile broadband)Using content that people do want to hear about (travel, smartphones)However, this could apply to any media operator setting up an advertising-driven publication
What’s different is the brand’s shift from passenger to driver – from passive advertiser to active publisher. Brands can create and distribute the content itself, not simply attach themselves to a publisher’s content.
So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at the content marketing process. What’s involved in setting up a campaign?There are three parts:Create content that people wantThat is, we have to answer the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question – where ‘me’ is the reader, not the brand.Market that content – get it out thereThrough our own and through others’ channelsConnect to it to the sale (audience= buyers) – without which, it’s just a publishing project, not marketing.Either : Directly = Lead generationIndirectly= Grow brand or market
So here’s the basic problem with content marketing.You need to attach your brand somehow. But the more you inject your brand into the content, the less people trust it and use it, and the less effective it becomes.This is not a new problem. It’s been a problem forever with the media.
This is what’s going on in the reader/viewer’s mind.
What’s new is that it’s now brands who have to calibrate the settings of this finely-honed balancing act.Traditional media deal with it in two ways. Most importantly, they measure every content decision against the interests of the audience. And they enforce it by setting Church and State boundaries between the content and the business end.But putting the brand in the driver’s seat doesn’t make the problem go away. In some ways, it makes it harder.The challenge is to avoid setting up conflicting aims – Such as insisting your product or brand is front and centre, while measuring ROI on audience engagement metrics.The best solution might be to make sure someone in your organisation is the ‘reader champion’. You can break the rules – you’re in charge – but break them knowingly, not unwittingly.
As the boundaries blur, there are other forces at work trying to protect the consumer’s interest. Consumer and advertising watchdogs are now taking a keen interest. And Google is on a mission to clean up online content. It’s pushing its algorithms, like Panda, to weed out misleading content. And it’s warning site owners that they’ll penalise sites that push the boundaries too far. Quality content and clear signals to visitors are what they’re looking for, and what they’ll reward with better search rankings.
So let’s take a look at what types of content we should be using in content marketing. What works best?A few years ago, it was easy. If you were a pioneer online content marketer, chances are you had a blogAnd you connected your blog to a feed or email so people who liked what you were saying could follow youAnd you could go back repeatedly and sell them stuff.
In today’s landscape, there are many content choices, many demands on your time and budget. Let’s take a look at some of the commonly-used types of content. But before we do, let’s step back and look at what we’re trying to achieve.There are three main aims.1. At the big end of the game, we’re using content to build a brand or build a market. These are often (but not necessarily) big projects. Authority is important here – there’s a lot riding on it.2.Then there’s lead generation. This is typically where B2B sits, but it’s increasingly a B2C concern as brands move towards having direct relationships with their customers.Here, the key is valuable exchange -- to have something of high value to exchange for something of high value to the consumer – their email address, Like and sometimes more.3.And at the other end, we have the tactical stuff of day-to-day marketingLike using content to tap into those powerful social channels and word-of-mouth. Here, topicality is often an important driver, and content often has a short life.Let’s have a quick look at each.
PrintWhile print is ailing , it’s not completely dead.It remains one of the best ways to build brand – corporate or personal – and establish authority, expertise, thought leadership.Magazines – like Red Bulletin, or Resene’s Habitat magazine.For several years, the biannual Habitat has served up colour and design ideas, expanding the market for its products and its brand leadership. It connects to a microsite and EDM to expand on that.And books. As any politician, celebrity, or expert can tell you, it’s hard to beat books for building and marketing personal brands.And yes, you can bet that when this book arrives, it will be perfectly timed and used to boost Kim Dotcom’s commercial or political goals.
WebYou need a ‘content hub’ to store and distribute your original digital content.It doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise. WordPress is an essential part of a content marketer’s strategy. It powers 20% of the web, and as a content creation and sharing platform, it’s as essential in today’s online world as Microsoft Office was in the offline world.The example of “my Blog” earlier is a real, functioning website and blog that I built in 10 minutes.A microsite can provide focus and control.It can move a content campaign away from the constraints of the corporate brand – or IT infrastructure – two things that are often fatal. – either a standalone site like need2know.org, or as a ‘site within the main corporate site, as Telecom’s tech in a sec.
Lead GenerationWe’re typically looking at high value content here because we want to get something valuable in exchange – an email address.(And yes, email is still best as the master of ‘permission marketing’ Seth Godin shows. Spot the social media follow (it’s hard to find, while the email sign-up is easy).In B2B with a high-value sale at stake, the content offered can be significant – and so can the amount of data requested.Digital goods make delivery/fulfilment easy1. At the high-value end:Ebooks (Amazon 2500 words)Whitepapers– research, case studies, market trendsWebinars (and live events)2. Otherpopular content types –Curation – great for newsletters and establishing leadership in a marketElearning – email sequence, or Udemy style?Blogs – original content marketing tool and still one of the best foundations
SocialSomeone shoot the banana!This is where we’re aiming to Build a social presenceDrive traffic to an offer or sign-up formBuild microsite traffic or SEOEg topical articles or ‘listicles’ – (‘The 25 hardest … ’ ) – perfected by Buzzfeed which charges a cool $50K for one of these native advertisingInfographicsInternet memes – humourAnimated GIFsVideoetc
And at the other end of the spectrum is evergreen content that just keeps working for you, a long term return on your content investment.
Build it and they will come – NotA key part of a publisher’s job is marketing content in profitable ways. Now that you’re the publisher, it’s a key part of your job too.It’s helpful to use the old PR categorisation – Owned – you own it, control it and (hopefully) keep benefiting from this assetEarned – it’s someone else’s media, but you’ve tapped into it for a free ridePaid – your message, you pay. This includes ‘Native advertising’ – a new buzzword for an old idea – advertorials. Is this the salvation for media?
Banner-ad free zone Example: Buzzfeedworks with brands to craft products such as ‘listicles’ that fit brand values and objectives, and encourage social sharing.Brand is integrated into content in ways that still generate strong readership and sharing.
Finally, let’s look at how to justify our content marketing.There are many ways.This table shows how a publisher would look at it. For a brand, the CPM could be money saved from not paying for ads rather than money earned. If you want to sign up for an AdSense account, you can double this, earning as well as saving.
For a marketer who connects content to sales, the earnings can be higher.And there are soft benefits too-- such as benefits from contra-deals working with partners, swapping access to each other’s audiences-- or perception of leadership in a marketTry multiplying this piece of content 50x, 100x and running it for 1,2,3 yearsContent can create anasset.
A measure ofcontent marketing success.
If you’d like a live version of this presentation for your team or event, or help with your content, technology or publishing strategy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Content marketing 101
Just 3,500 cars
More cars, mileage >>
more tyres sold
Make driving easier
̶ Where to find petrol, fix
̶ Where to eat, sleep
Gave away 35,000
Telecom is using content to solve a similar problem
Create useful content
To grow a market
By solving a problem
That’s slowing growth
Content Marketing is not new … What is new is the internet
• It gives users control over
• But, it also gives brands
the ability to beat this by
Content marketing process
1. Create content people
What’s in it for me?
2. Distribute that content
Through own and other
Connect it to the sale
Direct = Lead Gen
Indirect = Brand
#1 Create Content that People Want
The Balancing Act
How traditional media manage this
Put audience/reader first
“Church & State” boundaries
How brands might deal with it
Avoid (or at least question) conflicting aims
Appoint ‘reader champion’ with political clout
And please note that
both the law and
Google’s Panda are
What content should we use in content marketing?
(It used to be simple)
Best content tools for:
(Some) live events
Use high-value content to
build a ‘permission asset’
More names, or
Use topical, shareable
Build social presence
Drive traffic to offers
Build microsite traffic
year after year
Guide to, Best of
(Undated) blog posts
Getting distribution: How to market your content
• Email list
• Social (yours)
• Native ads
And because this is content marketing, I need to
insert a subtle commercial message.
If you’d like a live version of this presentation for your team or event, or help with your
content, technology or publishing strategy, contact email@example.com.