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Content Marketing – Adopting the Right Voice for Your Audience

Content marketing is nothing new, right? Well, in a highly engaged digital arena it’s now more important than ever to be consistently producing and distributing material that is both useful and engaging to your target audience. Architectural Review Asia Pacific (AR), however, is in a unique position insofar as the in-print and digital content is directed at multiple audiences and across a diverse regional context simultaneously. It is vital, then, in my role as editor, to understand the right voice for the individual audiences.

The print magazine is split into categories – sectional areas aimed at attracting attention or providing information to different factions of the architectural audience – features (more academic), under construction (professional), and projects (architectural/student). Given the diversity of audiences at any one time, it’s about creating the right tone and selecting appropriate vocabulary or phrasing. We aim to provide expertise, to become the pinnacle of architectural education and professionalism across all levels of the discipline. To help streamline this and to tie in across all our platforms and branding, we’ve employed a mantra, which over time should provide the audience with a slogan they know as both an industry phrase and a descriptive tool as to what AR represents: ‘From Concept to Completion’

AR’s purpose is clear. We are not considering ‘how can we sell to them’, instead we are more concerned with ‘why will they buy from us’. It is a subtle yet necessary distinction. We have a clear sense of our target audience: AR aims to be the industry expert across the Asia Pacific region and to cater to students, academics, and practitioners. They should all see AR as the point of contact, the ‘go-to’ on all things theoretical, practical or architectural. However, while we are steadfast in our targeted audience, it doesn’t mean they’ll actually read what we put out there to the market. We have in place various social media, event/media partnerships, digital platforming and in-print expertise, but without encouraging a direct relationship with our consumers and listening to what they want, our content strategy will be null and void. Our response to this is clear too: develop a relationship by speaking their language.

Concurrently, in an age of media and sales communication, it’s extremely important to know that when our target audience is searching for information our content is meeting their aspirations, career status, and their beliefs. It’s increasingly notable that one message does not apply to all audiences; tailored content with appropriate language is key. An academic feature article may not be to the tastes or interests of a practitioner looking for how to detail a window flashing, for instance. So, it is really useful to contact some key clients and foster a relationship whereby they can offer advice and objective comment. It may also be useful to ask what areas would be more effectively focused on.

A great content marketer recognises that content is not great content until it speaks to a precise audience and, significantly, in the right tone. It’s also vital that the right imagery and right partner products or advertising are displayed alongside the great content. After all, segmentation was once about social categories, disposable incomes, educational histories and residential status. This is no longer the case. Instead, it’s now imperative to catch audiences through multi-channel marketing, blogs, news feeds, social media, and the emerging presence of brands-as-publishers. In basic terms, your content has to be freely shared by others across platforms. Successful marketers have to think, create, and share in the right places. AR wishes to do this by humanising the brand – it’s no longer about a critic taking a stab at a practitioner as the audience looks up at them from the foot of the critic’s ivory tower. AR has established a two-way conversation. We invite submissions and encourage participation; we’ve effectively broken down the barriers for content submissions and in doing so become a brand that’s more in tune with the audience. We want the audience to trust us as a voice for the market and not as a single-dimension service.

However, we have a fine line to tread in order to efficiently channel our content and to ultimately attract consumers. While we’re geared towards promoting and showcasing new ideas, innovative technologies, architectural offices, construction methods etc., we do often need to simplify our message so it’s easy to obtain information and for the audience to effectively understand our overarching message and identity. We want to foster debate and to encourage discussions across the discipline so that they in turn will provide us with personal information so to better understand our demographic. We need to provide content that is easily digestible and provoking.

AR strives to provide content that is ‘audience-centric’ not necessarily product-centric or sales-centric. We are, therefore, oriented towards the ‘not in the market to buy.’ The right tone and voice for this is tricky. It requires a deep understanding of how to meet the needs and goals of the audience as well as companies who fall into this area. We do this through an intelligent team of contributors who each have their own professional skills and effective communication tools. Such audience development messaging begins with understanding audience personas, and we believe that we’re the industry thought leaders in this respect.

It’s also necessary to use metrics from Twitter, Facebook and/or Google Analytics/Google+. Through qualitative research, appropriate language can be directed at different audiences, via various forms of testing. The visual imagery and layout composition of articles must be in-line with what the market demands and as such should also be experimented over the course of a number of weeks. Only when items and articles have been thoroughly tested can you begin to strengthen the content marketing strategy. It’s essential to consider, though, that creating content not only helps you reach the target audience but also encourages them to share how you are different with their like-minded colleagues and affiliates. As a result, the tone of voice is an integral component to a brand’s content marketing strategy as it enables a clear message to be spread among peers. In a digitalised world, brands can no longer rely on visual advertising alone to attract customers and consumers. Infographics and video content are great tools that create effective user engagement, but without a clear voice a brand’s identity is rudderless.

Taking note of the fact that content is what enables qualitative data research, as a result of its distribution and uniqueness, it’s crucial that marketers constantly provide solutions to problems – or as we term them ‘knowledge platforms’ – after all, search engines are now looking for more than just keywords on a static website. Rather, they afford top ranking to the platforms that offer constantly evaluated, created and distributed content that is of suitably high standard. It’s also vitally important to cross-pollinate the distribution angles with links to and from other sites and media. This multi-faceted strategy, however, requires a consistent voice to ensure the brand identity is not lost.

To be a successful content marketer and to assign the right tone to your strategies, it’s important to know your audience and what they would want from you; to know when to be conversational and when to be more professional/formal; you should always come at it from announcing or identifying your point of difference in the market – it is always on our mind to state why our publication does what it does beyond profitability; and, most of all, ensure all of the content is helpful and compelling.

Naturally a strategy is critical, but the main thing is to get started and do not be afraid to regenerate content. Basically, get going on telling your story, beginning to end. From Concept to Completion.

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