Most of us fight the daily whack-a-mole war on email and try to split our time judiciously between multiple devices and infinite amounts of digital content. There is no shortage of it. The result? Scarcity of attention.
Content Marketing as the Remedy to Too Much Content
Content marketing as the way to stand out in a digital world swimming in content reminds me of the common advice to “fight fire with fire.”
So how will “content” marketing be a salvation for marketers in a world bursting with too much content?
Quality, my dear Watson.
Content marketing is not a strategy and practice to pump out more content, but rather a way to be more thoughtful about the value of the content being created. Is it relevant, useful and delightful to people who are your customers or ones you want to recruit?
Rise of Both Medium and Message
1967. Herbert Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher of communication theory whose views are seen as pivotal to the study of media theory, co-authors the best-selling book, “The Medium is the Massage.” In it McLuhan demonstrates how the medium chosen to communicate a message is as important, if not more, than the message itself.
With the advent of new media through web, video, mobile and social, there have never been more ways for marketers to communicate and engage with audiences. However, the ease by which anyone can set up a Twitter account, Pinterest board or publish a mobile application means that in order to really connect with people as marketers, we need to focus on both medium and message.
The evolution of the video streaming industry is an example of this need to be strong in both medium and message.
Netflix accounts for a third of all Internet traffic in North America on a typical weeknight. In order to stay competitive it needed to create original programming such as "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black."
Google’s recent investment in a YouTube studio in Los Angeles to create more compelling content for its popular video-sharing website is another indication of the importance of original, quality content.
Content Strategy Must Include Message, Medium and Membership
Content marketing is a bold endeavor rooted in the belief that what a brand has to say is just as important as how it says it. Blasting Twitter messages and Facebook posts is not enough if there’s no substance behind it.
For content marketing to deliver on the end goals of attracting new customers, increasing brand loyalty and increasing engagement, it must be built on a strategy that incorporates each of these three elements:
The content must be valuable to your customers or the ones you want to attract. Every piece of content must help solve a problem and be important enough to induce action. Bonus points for delighting and entertaining. For example, MyMove.com is a resource that helps millions of Americans move each year by providing content on every step of a relocation from selecting the right neighborhood to planting daisies in the backyard. By focusing on the “moving” problem, it draws a large segment of folks who need services such as moving trucks, real estate agents and landscapers.
A content marketing strategy must tailor the message to be most conveniently consumed by the audience. Convenience factors in the effort to consume the content, as well as how easily accessible it is. It’s why mobile is such a powerful delivery medium, but even more powerful when judiciously interweaved with other channels. Mobile is an especially effective medium for the most personal aspects of our lives: friends and family, health and money. It’s why social networks, Fitbits and banking apps are so potent in the mobile form.
Content marketing is most powerful when it incites engagement and dialogue. Do not seek to be the last word on any topic, but rather start the conversation with valuable content and let others join in. Social communities require brands to seed with relevant content, but the medium invites and empowers others to contribute.
Brands such as Harley-Davidson have long understood the power of community engagement; Harley invites member participation in its Harley Owners Group. The brand identity is further reinforced by many independent forums created by Harley-Davidson enthusiasts.
Message, medium and membership are the trifecta of a competitive content marketing strategy. The right digital marketing technologies can enable an organization to accelerate and scale a content marketing effort, but it won’t help bail you out of a poor strategy.
Title image courtesy of Alphonse Leong (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Want to read more by Loni? See Content and Community as a Corporate Asset