This is a huge question on the minds of many marketing practitioners and leaders. Here are my thoughts on why brands need to begin to think and act like publishers in order in improve their ROI and conversions.
Why Content Marketing?
“Content is King” is a term that is bandied around within many circles, but one of the many reasons that content marketing has become a popular part of company marketing strategies is the growing cost and increasing opt out rates for many types of marketing.
99.9% of banners are ignored, 95% of emails are never opened and 99.5% of PPC ads never get a single click (probably, don’t hold me to these figures). Cold calls increasingly are ignored by more and more of us, and of course many of use choose services where there are no TV ads (streaming) or fast-forwarding through adverts. Yet we are searching for more and more products online.
Simply put pushing overtly promotional messages at consumers today just does not work. We scroll past the content that we don’t want to see. The only solution is to become a source of information that your potential consumers want to see. That is why brands have started to produce content people are looking for. Whether it is news, helpful tips or even just entertaining videos, brands that aren’t creating content are effectively flushing huge amounts of their marketing budget down the toilet.
Follow the Leaders
Their results speak for themselves.
The Open Forum by American Express is a great example of a brand acting like a publisher. They created their site “to help small business owners get more business.” They did this by hiring professional writers and experts in running small businesses, they then write about the things that would be helpful to small business owners- giving them the information that they need. As they grew their target audience, they invited the readers to open an account with them.
This site quickly become the largest source of new members. Not because they beat the readers into submission, but because they added value to their marketing. They earned the attention and trust of the audience by providing helpful information. As a result of this trust their business grew. New business has to be earned and publishing is the cost.
Many businesses are now choosing to take advantage of all the channels and content that are available that online marketing has to offer, including videos, podcasts, blog posts and social media networks.
Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make
The biggest mistake that many marketers make when making the shift to becoming a publisher is that they continue to think of each action as a campaign. It’s not their fault. Nearly everything in marketing from day one has been a campaign, marketing activities in themselves are often a marketing campaign or advertising campaign depending on who you ask. Being a brand publisher does not mean that you create an ebook, and it is definitely not about making a viral video.
Publishing represents a cultural shift away from this thought process and instead focuses on the continuous development, curation and distribution of content that causes the target audience to engage in conversation and ultimately generate inbound leads for your business that requires little to no spend outside of the time spent creating.
Whether you are a marketer at a huge multinational marketing agency or a small regional business, you will often overestimate the importance of your company/product/solution in the mind of your customer. There are often other things that are at play when a customer is making their decision; location, delivery, price just to name a few.
You need to think in a truly customer-centric way.
There is often a direct correlation between the ability of a company to provide value online to their ability to gain an audience’s attention offline. The authenticity and realness of those interactions builds trust, which is what brings customer back again and again.
Is Content Marketing Just A Buzzword?
For some marketers and business leaders, content marketing is just another buzzword that like other buzzwords is shortlived and will soon join the pile of other fads and trends that in a few years time will be forgotten about.
However for me it has become a hugely important part of marketing that is a great way that businesses can use to generate inbound leads that doesn’t cost a huge amount of time or money and allows them to put the personality of the brand across (especially for small businesses).
Businesses whose leaders who are reaching for higher values for the business to operate under and who are in turn seeking to truly help their customers are the cultures that will be able to find success when using content marketing. Those who aren’t aiming for these position will have to fake it before they make it. Unfortunately, for many of these brands, the search bar is a click away and brands who are duplicitous in their content marketing will be found out.
Content Marketing Ground Rules
Here are a couple of content marketing ground rules to get you started on your journey.
- You want to take the brand out of the piece of content.
- Make the reader or your customer the hero of the story.
- Storytelling. Create content that is interesting or compelling.