Content has been ever-present but marketing has been about interruption in recent times. They interrupt you while you’re watching a TV or reading a magazine – and the bane of a good mood, those irrelevant company calls.
At first these desperate attempts were good at gaining attention, but what did the brands do with it once they were successful? It just hung there like the advertisements.
Earlier we had few channels and limited source of information. Now it’s an age where science and art are fused in a single honey: content and internet.
There are billions of people online and numerous sources of information. In a crazy and loud market like this quality is the only thing that can differentiate you.
The veil of illusion has been lifted off and people know when they’re being marketed to. Nobody cares about your product – people are trying to solve their own problems.
This direct situation opens up a new dimension for marketing. You don’t need to get through your customers, they’re already open to you.
But the moment you talk about your brand they’ll shut you out. Like a decent human being, your product has to be about more than just itself.
Trust is earned by sharing stories and our job is to uphold that trust. Your story should hold a promise of something valuable, and you need to deliver on that value.
Along with the content – content marketing has also been there forever. The first ads really were the content offering value and solution. At some point we got sidetracked and started to talk about ourselves instead of connecting with customers.
If not the oldest, one of the best examples of content marketing is John Deere’s magazine The Furrow.
John Deere is an American manufacturer of agricultural equipment. Its magazine, The Furrow provides information to farmers on how to turn more profit.
Articles in The Furrow are neutral to the point where you may wonder whether this is really John Deere’s magazine. It recognized the need for customers to have an unbiased source of information. Anything that farmers can use to improve their operations makes it into The Furrow.
If you look at the entire history of the magazine, you’ll not find the words “John Deere” mentioned more than around 20 times and that’s going back about 120 years.
Procter & Gamble are yet another example of brilliant content marketing strategy. Imagine a soap company trying to sell more soap, how’re they going to do it?
They asked questions like ‘who are we targeting?’ Women! ‘What are their problems?’ They’re trying to build a household, their life is hectic and lacks entertainment.
So when they’re taking a break why not give them something they can relate to, narratives and characters that are meaningful to these individuals. It will be so immersive, they’re going to come back tomorrow.
This is how the “soap operas” came into existence. Procter & Gamble hired production houses to hire actors and writers, and then never interfered or put any directives. They let artists do their best to create something authentic.
They didn’t try and sell their story – they simply chose to tell their story.
And finally we’re returning to our roots. Marriot is an example of this change.
They’re openly saying that they’re a media company and their goal is to be the leading informational provider in the travel industry.
Marriot launched a global creative and content marketing studio solely for this purpose. Their focus is on developing content: digital projects, TV projects, film projects and even animation.
It becomes ugly when you put your logo on the screen and pause it for like 10 seconds. When you let creators do what they do best, things will start to look and sound real instead of being real-time.
Marriot is setting up an example, this shows when you can’t rely on media you’ve to become the media.
You naturally see it in the environment when it’s more like a culture than a program. Programs are boring and they die off after a certain time period. Whereas cultures thrive.
If you consider the case of all these successful content marketers, we can connect the dots on certain important points.
Being specific and relevant: find a niche or create a niche or find a niche within a niche but most importantly target your audience.
Deciding a content style: textual, visual or audio.
Sharing the content with consistency: weekly or daily.
And no matter what you sell, don’t be just B2B or B2C when you can always be P2P: connecting person to person and people to people.