Better late than never, I suppose.
For something that’s been around for literally thousands of years, it’s quite remarkable that it’s only really been in the past decade that content has, as the kids would say, become ‘a thing’. Our ever-fragmenting media landscape certainly means that there are now new ways to think about, create, deliver and measure the way that we tell stories – and that’s to say nothing of the positively delightful side effect for marketers of the audience having more agency than ever before. But content, in its most pure form, is at the very heart of what storytelling is. And – cue the Ol’ Blue Eyes – you can’t have one without the other.
As a creative form, there’s no exact science when it comes to creating content. But as a strategic marketing tool, there are a few points that need be remembered when ideating and executing a successful content marketing strategy.
Educate, don’t promote
A content marketing strategy can be a great way to connect with your existing audience, or even reach a new one. But remember to put the focus of your output on the “content” bit, rather than the “marketing”. Your brand should already have other avenues to lean into the hard sell (and, despite what far too many brands in Hong Kong still seem to think, Facebook and Instagram are not those platforms). Look at your content as a way to educate your audience on topics that they actually care about, even if they’re not directly related to your brand. The insight that you provide is key to keeping people coming back to your platform. Done well, the right content strategy can completely reposition a brand in the mind of a customer, existing or potential. Nobody wants to be sold to – even if they’re looking to buy.
Less is (usually) more
We already live in a world of too much noise. So why would you want to add to that? Never forget that blocking spam, or what people think is spam, is only ever a click away. Sometimes it’s better to hold off saying anything until you have something worth saying.
Be an authority
‘Brand equity’ is one of the many intangibles of the marketing game – but it’s also one of the most important. As the Bard once wrote, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Don’t underestimate the power that a brand can carry in the eyes of the customer – if you’re making a business out of something, anything, then it’s assumed you know what you’re talking about. A strategic and well executed content marketing programme can reinforce this authority.
Know your audience – really know them
This should probably go without saying, but if you don’t know who you’re talking to, you probably won’t be talking about the right things, or in the right way. If you look at content as part of your overall communications strategy – which is absolutely the way to be thinking about it – you’ll already know who your audience is. But the power of content marketing is that it can help you discover new audiences through timely and relevant content, especially when you anticipate needs that people don’t realise they have. Remember: it’s your audience’s world, and you’re just living in it.