By Mark Inskip
This means that marketers need to look far beyond the next three or four campaign cycles and instead look to create a solid foundation of customer communication on which future activities can be built. This can be a difficult scenario for many brands to contemplate, given that the average marketing director or brand manager is only likely to see five or six of these cycles in their tenure.
Today, what brands need to do more than anything is build their personality online. And so far, few have really achieved that. This is the reason why content marketing is such a hot topic right now. A content driven marketing strategy allows a brand to effectively engage with their consumers in a non-interruptive way and to build an ongoing relationship with them, rather than periodically jumping up and down and ‘pitching’ a product at them in a quick burst of activity and then going away again.
A lot has been written about how storytelling is becoming a hugely important marketing art now, and we are at last starting to see brands move away from the concept of catchy one-liners toward the production of long-form and compelling content that gives brands substance. A content driven marketing strategy that uses this approach allows a brand to feed a constant stream of valuable and relevant information to customers.
This isn’t to say that campaign marketing is dead, it will forever have a crucial role in helping to open up channels and spark customer interest – but its thanks to content marketing that brands are now able to create a deep and lasting relationship with their customers.
In spite of this, too many brands still don’t ‘get’ the value of content creation. Marketing culture in general remains geared toward the short term, and around acquisition numbers. Retention remains a hard sell.
The tools to create compelling content are right there in front of us – but too many marketers still don’t embrace them to their full potential. It’s great to have a Facebook page, and to drive people to it when you have something you want to push, but the real skill is in keeping them coming back in between campaign cycles. Ten years ago we didn’t have many ways to engage with consumers unless they contacted us first. Now that this is no longer the case we have the perfect opportunity to drip feed content – good, relevant and engaging content – and place it in the hands of potentially eager brand advocates.
What seems to put a lot of brands off is that they don’t understand how to measure the value of content in the same way they can campaign bursts. To create a long-term, content driven strategy and invest time into it without being able to absolutely measure the results from it, is a brave move. But the brave are the ones that ultimately succeed. Coca-Cola seems to have got it – pretty much everything they do is geared around content creation now.
Red Bull too is a great example of a brand that embraces a long-term marketing strategy. Rather than see them talk about their products or campaigns, Red Bull focuses most of its marketing efforts on leveraging long-term sponsorship deals, then monetising the value of that sponsorship through the creation of compelling content.
Campaign driven marketing activity will continue to have its place and agencies will still win awards for their part in this. But my prediction is that as time rolls on, so will the emphasis by marketers on longer-term, strategic engagement – and this shift will be born out of a content driven strategy.
About the author
Mark Inskip is UK managing director, Group FMG.