There is no longer (if there ever was) a linear path between brand awareness, acquisition, loyalty, and retention. 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 have the best success getting consumers “beyond first click” have achieved more than a good social media marketing strategy. They have changed the core of how they approach marketing. They plan and execute a content strategy – thinking like creators, rather than advertisers.They create 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. Traditional advertising focuses on campaigns, and consists of planning, revision and execution. 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. 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. When faced with creating content, we all wonder what to say, and how to make sure what we’re creating is good enough. The real challenge with a content strategy isn’t so much that the beast needs to be fed, but 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 5 areas to consider when determining how to feed the content beast:
1. You are making content so people will not only engage, but share, and that means it has to have value for them – so make it for THEM rather than about YOU.
An example where a brand has done this successfully was the Dove Real Beauty campaign:
2. Variety is more important than consistency – you never know what will get people’s attention.
3. Some of the most engaging content is not professionally produced – the bar is high for what’s compelling, but lower than you think for how it’s made.
4. Creating something quickly that reflects/comments/plays off of current events can make your brand relevant, even when a connection isn’t obvious.
5. And most importantly, don’t try to do everything yourself – 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. One of the best examples of content strategy as marketing strategy is coming from GoPro. Yes, they create cameras – a product that lends itself to storytelling a bit easier than foot cream or socks. They recognize how valuable content is, regardless of who created it. Instead of shying away from that “non-premium user-generated stuff”, they encouraged it. They are engaging their customers to participate in building the story of the brand, which is therefore authentically building their brand 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 “click”. It’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 2014 to build a story for your brand through content that will engage your customers?
A special thanks from the Pixlee team to Deirdre Davi, an executive at Sterling Brands, for guest writing on our blog.
About Sterling Brands
Sterling Brands is a leading brand consultancy formed in 1992. They are headquartered in New York with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. Key clients include many of the world’s most respected organizations including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, Disney, Bayer, Google, Visa, Time Warner, T-Mobile, Abbott Laboratories and Pepsico. They became part of the Omnicom family in 2008.
Sterling Brands does three things really well—brand strategy, brand design and brand innovation—all of which are guided and fueled by a deep interest and understanding of customer and cultural insight. As a relationship-based business, they are collaborative by nature and work closely with client partners to deliver fresh, inspiring, high quality work.