Content marketing is nothing new. It’s actually been around for over a century. In fact, brands like John Deere have been attempting to land their product stories in more natural and digestible environments since the late 1800s. What is new, however, is the expanding set of delivery vehicles and methods that allow content to be more engaging and entertaining than ever. But before you go signing up your brand, you should consider the following.
What’s Your Story?
A company’s brand story is sacred. It can differentiate a brand from its competition, inspire employees to provide outstanding customer service, and even create a meaningful connection between a person and his/her employer. To date, content marketing provides some of the best ways to tell your brand story. The surrounding context is rich, the quality is often times exceptional and if done right, there is an obvious yet natural feeling people walk away with that brings them closer to an affinity toward your brand. In recent months, we’ve seen Johnnie Walker continue their “Gentleman’s Wager” series and Lagavulin respond with an impressive “Yule Log” activation. Both of the brands’ films do an amazing job of placing the viewer in the state of mind best suited for their brand and do so without hitting you over the head with their products. It’s this ability to create an incredible experience – drawing fans closer to what my agency likes to call “brand love” – that makes content marketing the perfect place to tell your story.
Great Content Can Reach Huge Audiences
If done consistently, content marketing has the potential to garner tremendous reach and awareness for your brand. Unlike most of your traditional marketing materials, content marketing will be something fans eventually seek out, proactively. If your narrative and execution are consistently exceptional, you’ll start to grow a substantial fanbase of subscribers that return to see the most recent stories you’ve shared. Red Bull, the gold standard for content marketing, has not only attached its name to a lifestyle and audience perfectly in line with its brand, but has done such a good job that an entire channel was created based on their content – Hello, Red Bull TV! The fact that audiences are willing to subscribe to their channel online or frequent the Apple TV app is proof that great content has a tendency to reach considerably broader audiences.
Content Is A Serious Investment
Everything comes at a cost, and content marketing is the embodiment of this phrase. Unless your brand has an established tone of voice that aligns with rough and intentionally imperfect content, odds are you’ll need to invest some decent coin to create the quality and quantity to make a sufficient impact. Whether it’s photo shoots, film projects, or site experiences, each requires significant investment, often cutting into other areas of your marketing budget. Some larger brands, like Coca-Cola for instance, have the budgets to allow for experimental and innovative experiences, but the majority of brands will have to find funding with existing scopes of work (or in place of them).
Commit To A Direction
While every brand will tell you a significant amount of time goes into editorial planning, the reality is that business priorities change, new products emerge, and a number of other factors make things more fluid. Due to the level of effort and cost needed to create this content, it’s imperative that you align on the direction early and stick with it. While throwing away work is never ideal, it’s a lot easier to scrap a banner ad than a fully-produced film. Sticking with the approved direction for this content also helps avoid the Frankenstein effect, which becomes obvious to a fan if there are too many directional changes throughout the creation of the content.
What About ROI?
Tracking ROI is one of the most important aspects of any advertising campaign. It’s also something that can prove difficult when creating this content, since any blatant attempt is usually detrimental to the original work. Because tracking ROI in the digital space is a considerable step up from more traditional media, such as billboards and radio spots, not all digital experiences have a direct click to purchase path, making it more difficult to prove value. In this case, most of your return comes in the form of digital interactions, such as shares and views. Yes, the functionality exists to add CTAs in videos or surround your content with requests for engagements, so be careful you don’t go overboard and ruin your chance at creating a meaningful moment and a lasting relationship.