Have you got your head around the buzz about content marketing yet?
It took me a while. The urgent calls for social media marketing, repurposed content, online, below the line, SEO content, block-buster blogging and so forth can be bewildering.
My aha! moment came from Doug Leather, Jo’burg-based international consultant on customer-centric business models. The primary route to customer loyalty and sales, says Leather, is to provide customers with a relevant and positive experience that will have them coming back for more. Apply this principle to what you communicate to your customers and how you do it and, ergo, you have content marketing.
Actually, it’s not quite so simple, as integration with marketing and sales strategy is also part of the package. But it’s the customer-centric content that is the differentiator.
This means providing information to your customers that is relevant for them, that is useful and that interests them, and that targets both their needs and desires. The Content Marketing Institute says that instead of pitching your products and services, content marketing involves delivering information that makes your readers and viewers more intelligent (or better informed, I would say). By publishing content that repeatedly and regularly engages their attention you can convert your customers into followers, thereby creating a channel for driving sales.
So how does this work in practice? Every free e-book publisher and blogger is practising content marketing by delivering useful and relevant information at no charge. Those consumers who subscribe, sign up or download become the strong prospects whom they can target with sales information.
Many South African companies are taking the lead with great content marketing strategies. Some have been around for a while already, such as brand publications like Edgars Club Magazine and Woolworths Taste, which have become powerful marketing tools, supplying aspirational lifestyle information to their customers.
More recent examples include Capitec Bank’s phenomenally successful #AskWhy Twitter campaign that engaged with consumers about their banking experiences, and responded to conversations with relevant facts and content. Twitter content marketing has also worked extremely well for Henley Business School which increased its Twitter followers from around 600 to over 6 000 in nine months by engaging an expert business writer to drive its Twitter conversations. Another innovation is the brand platform for television created by communications agency Kaelo Engage, which gives companies the opportunity to tell their CSI brand stories in the documentary show Kaelo-Stories of Hope.
Whatever the strategy, the crux of content marketing is top quality writing that addresses the issues your audiences care about and tells your brand story subliminally at every content touch point. It’s a marketing medium that calls for writers who are also marketing strategists, researchers, data analysts, brand-smiths and investigative journalists, just for starters.
We copywriters will attest that this is exactly what we have always been doing and that it’s long overdue that businesses recognise the value we have to offer. For us the comeback of content is good news and we anticipate a surge in demand for quality writing services. But perhaps we should ditch the term ‘writer’ and position ourselves as content marketing professionals. Hmmmm, this calls for a new content marketing strategy.
Colleen Lewis is the founder and director of 10 Plus Media, a virtual copywriting and marketing agency.