Postma, C. (2014). Content marketing. Uitgeverij Haystack, Zaltbommel.
The book ‘Content marketing in 60 minuten’ is a very efficient and pleasant read. Author Carlijn Postma is up-to-date on the latest trends concerning marketing and explains content marketing very clear and concise. The booklet first introduces the phenomenon of content marketing to its reader and then provides tools to start working on skills. My interest for content marketing has been sparked – I will definitely use this book for insights during my thesis research.
It’s all about audience development.
– Robert Rose
Forget about specific social media strategies, focus on overall content marketing instead. Media’s core business is content. Businesses want their audience to read, listen and watch, and thus should the interest of and relevance to this audience be key.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing instrument used to create and distribute valuable and meaningful content to attract, recruit, and build relationships with a clearly defined target group with the purpose to initiate desired action.
Mass communication as we know it is done. Consumers have gained increasing knowledge about advertising and learned how to ignore it. Consumers have countless options to avoid your communication. They can unsubscribe to your newsletter, unlike you on Facebook, and unfollow you on Twitter. Your target group is taking charge!
Businesses should not focus on whether their audience spends time online or not. News will reach the audience either directly through Internet or indirectly through a neighbour who has read it online, because news starts online.
We all have our own virtual bubble that contains and receives information that we want to listen to, read, or watch. Consumers decide for themselves what they will and will not receive. Information that does not meet their expectations or wishes will not enter their bubble. Remember purchasing a product and receiving an email with products that might also like to buy? Or Netflix proposing several shows and movies based on what you have watched before? Some find it scary – I think it’s very useful.
The ultimate goal for marketers and communications professionals is to gain access to the virtual bubble of their target audience – by using content marketing as strategy.
Two worlds collide: advertising and journalism.
Newspapers are companies that create and distribute content in order to recruit an audience and build a relationship with them; it is their corebusiness. Companies with other corebusinesses were used to reaching the audience of a media company through advertising in the pre-digital age. Interruption marketing can be seen as a one-way B2C conversation where the company screams and demands attention while the consumer is silent. This kind of marketing is in decline. However, marketers and media are still great partners in the digital age – they just need to re-evaluate their business model in order to stay afloat.
One of the hardest things for marketers is conveying the benefit of using their product or service, especially if they are using traditional advertising.
Content marketing focuses on the long-term strategy of storytelling to engage an audience in your story. The creation of long form stories is the best way of building a relationship with an audience. It’s like a TV show, one episode could never convey the message of an entire season.
The possibilities of content marketing
Marketers might question why they should bet on content marketing. The answer to that question is that it is all about audience development. Invest in getting an audience now, in order to have direct access to these listeners, readers and watchers in the future. Don’t piggyback on other companies’ audiences; don’t build your house on rented land.
Companies need to determine what they want to measure in order to figure out what content marketing can do for them. The traditional approach measures visitors, page views, shares and likes, and GRPs (Gross Rating Points; 1 GRP = 1 percent viewers density in a certain target group). Forget about GRPs: we don’t choose the target audience, the target audience chooses us. We want to know if our content moves people or makes them feel involved. Where do we lose them and when do they stay?
Postma states that a pre-determined customer journey does not exist because we cannot fix our (potential) customers’ route into becoming loyal customers. What we can do is entice and help them by adding relevance and make their journey an experience worth remembering. Postma mentions building relationships with an audience, generating leads, converting from leads to sales and increasing customer loyalty as goals for content marketing.
Companies that use Facebook as a tool to reach their audience have noticed the importance of having the right strategy. Facebook adjusted its policy, which placed a gate between organizations and their audience. For example, Facebook has decided that friends’ updates are more important than the content on followed pages. Four ways to open the gates between your organization and your audience:
- Be good at Facebook by creating content that draws attention.
- Pay to play: advertise to get your content noticed.
- Ask (loyal) customers and colleagues to share messages.
- Build a community on another platform.
Content marketing, the corebusiness of your marketing and communications team
Marketing and communications departments often state that they are too busy to take on content marketing. The general perception on content marketing needs to change: it’s not an extra job, it’s a different way of approaching the same job. If we start building bridges between different projects, such as creating a new website or introducing a product, we can link them all to one channel. Introducing a product would then happen through a pre-existing channel by adding new valuable and relevant content about the product. There is no need for new websites or Facebook pages if you already own a space that distributes consistent content to an audience of (loyal) customers. This space can be used to create an involved audience. For instance, a company that offers products from different categories uses one Facebook page for their entire assortment to engage with its audience. It only needs to provide content adjusted to the eventual goal.
If you think about it, there is a media tycoon in all of us. We have many different channels at our disposal that enable us to create and distribute content to all kinds of target groups. This also makes us a producer, an editor in chief, and an advertiser.
Integration of paid, owned and earned media
Many marketers have shifted a large portion of their budget to online activities, averagely spending 90 percent on time and space and 10 percent on content. Marketers have also chosen the path of branded content, which can be a relevant story that is written by a brand and contaminated by namedropping. Branded content must not be confused with content brands. Disney, for example, is a content brand. Not every brand needs to be or become a content brand, but it is important to start seeing content as a product.
Lessons can be learned from content marketing successes. Advertising without context is like throwing money down the drain. Consumers have become blind to advertising Messages without context or relevance will be rejected by the audience’s virtual bubble. If content marketing is next on your agenda, make sure you have an integrated approach for paid, owned and earned media. Earned media can also be activated by influencers, who generally take up 1 percent of an audience. 6 to 8 percent of an audience is prosumer: they share and like the influencers’ content. These two groups are an effective way to reach the ‘passive’ consumer.
The 6 steps of a content marketing strategy
Something needs to change – your brand wants to become a media brand. How do you make sure that your company is ready for this transformation?
First, thoroughly inform everyone who has anything to do with marketing about content marketing. Second, assemble a team of experts, enthusiasts and (marketing)communications professionals. Postma describes six steps to develop a content marketing plan.
- Content formula;
- Sections and formats;
- Content planning;
- The editorial staff/office; and
- Content mapping.
My next blogpost will clearly outline every step of developing a content marketing plan. I will also provide you with some assignments to help you along the way.
The creation of content
Creating qualitatively good content takes time. Make sure you are well-prepared!
According to Rock The Deadline, adding your own context to curated content is creating new content. Always keep the relevance to your audience in mind. Twitter hashtags and keyword streams can help you out. Monitoring programs such as Hootsuite or Falcon Social allow you to track these hashtags and streams. Also, if you set the right limits Google Alerts can do most of the searching for you.
A few do’s and don’ts for curating content:
Provide credits and links to your sources.
Never copy paste without authorization; this is considered theft.
Make sure you follow guidelines for using content provided by the source.
Add your own vision. Clearly discuss why you think this article is interesting and/or important.
Do it yourself
Communications professionals spend too little time on creating visual content themselves. The increasing importance of visual content can be seen in the growing success of Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. The following tools can help you create your own content:
- A Beautifull Mess
- iMotion HD
Content marketing tools
Creating content, using social media, measuring activity, and involving your audience is time-consuming. Postma mentions six tools that can help every marketer in the process.
- Falcon Social
- Google Analytics
Sophie is an International Communication and Media student at the University of Applied Science of Utrecht. Her combined interest of the three w’s and marketing every now & then result in a piece of text. These words happen to show up on this blog. Read it or weep!