In this time of constant change and economic downturn, the battle for share of wallet has never been more intense, and thanks to the digital revolution there have been several paradigm shifts in the last decade that have given rise to the empowered customer. Customers are now, more than ever, connected to businesses and what they offer, and their expectations from businesses and brands are high.
The rise of this new, connected customer is a golden opportunity to enhance that customer engagement. But it also brings with it a series of challenges, and the need for brands to be trustworthy, transparent, sustainable and useful to customers.
Content marketing (previously, and more aptly, called custom publishing) is currently enjoying its place in the sun. It’s become a bit of a buzzword, like ‘big data’ and ‘native advertising’. Everyone and their agencies seem to be claiming to be ‘content marketing experts’, and they may be right.
But John Brown’s point of difference – what we offer our clients – is an editorial sensibility, or what we like to call editorial intelligence. We employ the very best editors and journalists to craft branded – and sometimes only very subtly branded – content, because knowing what will capture, and hold, an audience’s attention is what great editors do. It’s part science, but mostly it’s an art.
In this new era of customer engagement, marketers risk becoming totally overwhelmed by the number of media platforms available and ways to engage. As marketers and publishers, we need to be careful we’re not just creating strategically sound wallpaper.
Good content marketing tells a great story about your brand. Global quantitative research done by CMA indicates that readers spend, on average, 28 minutes reading a customer magazine. What we say to clients and marketers is that if you had 28 minutes to sit in your customer’s living room to talk about your brand, what would you say?
You would want to tell a unique and compelling story, demonstrate your expertise, entertain and educate. Audiences are inundated with branded and unbranded messages 24/7. The digital space has afforded us all multiple touch-points to customers: every 60 seconds, 100 hours of video is uploaded on to YouTube; 48 000 apps are downloaded; and 347 000 tweets are posted on Twitter. No wonder we feel like we’re suffering from a digitally induced form of ADD.
To truly connect with customers, we need to be telling stories – offering an oasis of engagement in the attention economy. Remember that we are talking to humans, not technology, not data, and not faceless LSM’s.
Competition for attention is fierce, and content cannot be ‘good enough’, it needs to be awesome.
Lani Carstens is MD John Brown Media. This an edit of an address Carstens recently delivered at the IMC Conference in Cape Town. She will talk on the subject at the IMC Conference in Johannesburg in October.
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