Using content to promote products or services isn’t something new. We’ve been doing it for a while now.
So although the terms “content strategy and content marketing” have become somewhat synonymous with being a new way of promoting a brand, marketing through content is not something businesses have just caught onto.
A lot of what has changed however is the content itself. It’s evolved - and the value attributed to it has increased exponentially.
More than this, the channels through which the content is distributed have massively advanced through incredible technological and social innovation.
So what’s different between now and then?
For a start, push marketing in its conventional form is pretty much being left for the sales displays in supermarkets or company showrooms. This is because unlike classic old school marketing, intelligent brands are no longer pushing products and services on to people.
Instead, pull marketing is what brands today are using in order to entice a customer in – and content marketing is adopting the same approach.
Marketing through content now is all about a brand using a media mix that is useful and captivating enough to engage a very targeted consumer base.
Targeted because consumers have changed so much that the way in which we market to them has had to adapt.
Where does engagement take place – and how?
Billions of people are online so it stands to reason that this is where a brand needs to be.
Further, you need to take into consideration that the conventional sales cycle has changed. Consumers are no longer walking in through a business’ door in order to gain information about a product or service they are interested in.
Rather, their purchase cycle begins online, searching for answers to questions they are asking about what it is they want to buy – and only once they’ve found what they’re looking for will they consider knocking on your door.
All the more reason for a brand to be online – so as to anticipate the questions consumers are asking and to have the necessary know-how to be able to provide the answers in order to increase their chances of being found in search.
It’s only then that brands will stand half a chance to convert consumer behaviour from information gathering to actual buying action.
Online searches are also heavily influenced by what’s being shared on social media channels. Peer reviews are playing an increasingly stronger role in impacting purchasing behaviour.
People like people so we are more likely to listen to what our friends or family are saying about a brand on social media as opposed to what the brand is pitching to us.
What does this mean for brands and the content they’re producing?
It’s quite simple really. Brands need to become innovative publishers of content that doesn’t just educate but that also entertains, so that it is both useful and likeable enough to also be shareable.
Brands need to create content that is easily searchable so that it actually reaches - and is seen - by its intended audience.
Brands need content that is less about them and more about telling a story so as to drive brand awareness not through direct selling but rather through emotive experience.
Essentially, brands need to switch to consumer-oriented content that,
as Seth Godin reportedly puts it, “is actually worth looking at on its own merit”.
More than increased brand awareness though; cost is also an incentive for brands to become publishers.
According to Catherine Toole of Sticky Content, the economic and commercial benefits of editorial-led marketing (listed below) pretty much speak for themselves:
Kapost adds clout to these advantages by relaying the following statistics:
It’s clear that brands need to become publishers.
More than this though, they need to publish niche content that is marketable in itself, that is properly strategized and planned, that is high quality and that can be adapted to the particular channels through which it will be distributed, searched for and shared.