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Like It Or Not, You're In The Content Business

This may come as a bit of shock, but you’re not in the business you think you’re in. It doesn’t matter if your company sells hammers or complex investment products -- that’s not where the rubber hits the road today.
 
Consider the guy who owned a pool company that a story in Entrepreneur magazine recently highlighted. Marcus Sheridan has been doing quite well installing pools around Virginia and Maryland since 2002. And he knows why.

"I see my business as a content marketing company,” he told the magazine earlier this year. “My entire goal is to give more valuable, helpful and remarkable content to consumers than anyone else in my field, which will in turn lead to more sales."

That's your marketing strategy right there. Engagement. Got it?

Of course, just how we define “engaging content” has changed dramatically, and even more so since social media barged its way into the party. Today, compelling content is the currency that buys your customer’s attention and affection long before they reach the stage of comparing features and benefits. And if it's good enough, they will not only have a predisposition for your brand, but also share that enthusiasm with their friends.

All of that leads marketers to a frantic search for content that will lock consumer’s attention in on their brand. What can we say? Where do we say it? And how can we make sure our consumers will take the time to listen?

For many years, creating content meant making a TV spot, which according to surveys costs on average $324,000 today just for the commercial. It's a formula, a little humor or maybe a tug at the heartstrings and tag line that plants the brand firmly in your mind. Unfortunately, for marketers looking for that easy way out, many consumers are tuning out traditional advertising.
 
“As consumers become immune to traditional advertising and ad clutter and fragmentation limits ad effectiveness, content will become a powerful way to connect to consumers,” said Mary Beth Kemp, a principal analyst at Forrester Research in an August report about branded content development. While there's not one single right answer for renewing how brands make content, all CMOs need a content strategy they can depend on for engagement.”
 
That's why the big players, like Coke, have created entire divisions that are tasked with making compelling content in all forms. Coke's Content Factory works directly with artists, writers, directors, game makers and just about any other discipline you can imagine to produce a steady stream of content that will connect the brand to consumers.
 
At Allstate they saw the opportunity to provide a free solution to a problem we’ve all had at one time or another, and in the process make a lot of friends. What if they could give people an easy way to make a home inventory, complete with pictures, in case if they ever had to make a claim.
 
The Allstate Digital Locker guides you through the process of cataloguing your home using your phone. It’s easy, fast and when you’re done it stores everything safely in the cloud.  Allstate gives its app away for free, regardless of what insurance company you use.
 
A successful content program comes from figuring out the right content to make and then making it really well. To start with, listen to your consumers. There are clues and insights all around you. Where are consumers going on your Web site? Do they hit FAQs? If so, which ones get the most traffic? Then move on to social media monitoring. What are the topics they’re discussing on blogs, message boards and elsewhere online?
 
Of course, often the biggest problem is getting your company to make an ongoing commitment to content. For many it’s just too big a cultural shift from “we make lawnmowers” to “we’re the knowledge source for beautiful yards.”

The prize, however, for those that make the leap is huge. Imagine being the company in your industry that becomes the knowledge source; that builds consumer relationships based on the understanding and engagement you bring them. Then imagine that content defining and differentiating your brand. If your company hasn’t imagined it yet, one of your competitors has. And that means that like it not, pretty soon you’re going to be in the content business.

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