Content Reigns Supreme
“Content is king” is a cliché, but phrases become clichés because at the core is a certain truth. As a former business journalist, I appreciate the value assigned to content. Now that I’m a marketer creating branded content for clients, content continues to reign, and marketers are hungry for it. The biggest challenge is creating products that are compelling, shareable, digestible and targeted, but there are some basic guidelines that can help.
It’s worth the effort. Content marketing’s growth in dollars and influence is well-documented. Content garnered 12% of marketers' budgets in 2012, and more than half of marketers plan to spend more this year, according to a recent Advertising Age survey.
B2B marketers allocate more: 30% of their budgets, according to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, in a benchmark study published this month. More than half of B2B marketers (58%) plan to increase their investment in content marketing next year.
The thing is, many of the rules that constitute great writing in the editorial department apply to the branded world. Creating branded content is not easy, but when done well, it shines. To create content that inspires customers to engage with marketers -- and ultimately purchase -- remember these guidelines:
What’s the Big Idea? Start with an idea. Think about the story you will tell that will engage customers. Without a central idea and a compelling story, the project will flounder. Once you determine the story, be sure to make it accessible. One example is to create “snackable” content online. A five-page e-book might work better than a 10-page white paper for a particular project, or you might decide to shoot long-form video, with shorter 6- and 15-second snippets for Vine and Instagram.
Play to your strengths. Being part of the CBS Corp. family naturally gives us a huge advantage for creating professional-quality video content, and the technology sites I work with become the means of distribution on behalf of clients. We make the most of those strengths. Whatever your strength, parlay that into a better experience for customers.
Tune in to your channel. Great content can only shine if people see it. Pay attention to client objectives, because they may inform which communication channel works best.
A technology provider asked us to create a high-level, ongoing conversation with C-suite executives. We created a themed video series featuring thought leaders interviewed by one of our editors. The visual channel worked best, and we were able to distribute it to our readers through several means, including banners driving them to view the videos.
Creating content is only the beginning. You need to market it so it gets seen, liked, shared and even syndicated.
Do it Wrong Quickly. Former IBM Distinguished Engineer Mike Moran wrote “Do It Wrong Quickly,” a book about how the Web changes old marketing rules.
I think about that phrase often. The idea is, experimentation and fast changes are the only ways to find out what’s right, and both are possible to do online, where adjustments can be made on a dime.
This principle applies to content marketing, too. Execute well, then refine through testing and measurement. Content marketing itself is evolving, and the rules and best practices for newer avenues like social and mobile are still being written, so there’s never been a better time to do it wrong quickly.
Go ahead. Be like Mike.