My working definition of content marketing/branded content is anything that, with the brand removed entirely, still retains value to the audience.
‘Value’ is another moveable concept, but in content marketing it’s found at the overlap of what’s important to both the brand and the audience. It plays out as either utility or entertainment. Education, inspiration, tools, apps, events, insight, foresight, videos, collaborations, instructional manuals, books, blogs… all fall under those two things and can all be part of a content marketing plan.
For example, one project I’ve worked on, for Bank of Melbourne, focused on the success of Victorian businesses.
It’s something that’s important to the businesses, and it’s important to Bank of Melbourne because their success enables the Bank’s success, so it celebrates that success in its content platform Business State.
If you’re not sure what content you should create right now, that’s good. Because that’s not the best question to start with.
The only thought process to go through to arrive at an effective content marketing plan is the same as with any form of marketing: start from the top. Marketing is simply a suite of tools to help you reach your business objectives, and the starting point of creating content is the same as any other marketing activity: how do I reach the people I want to reach (targeting) and how do I get them to think what I want them to think about me (positioning)?
If the answer to that question is ‘content’, keep reading. Although, I should point out, a single string to a marketing bow is rarely successful. The marketing mix is different for every business, but is incredibly important to get right and optimise regularly.
Advertising shapes perceptions and informs. Events shape perceptions, inspire, inform and set up direct conversations. Thought leadership articles shape perceptions and, on a website, optimise your website for search engines making it easier for people to find you even if they don’t know you specifically yet. And so on.
In the Business State example, content reaches the audience through a variety of channels, and every detail reinforces what the brand wants readers to think. The stories reinforce the perception that the Bank is a partner of successful businesses and that it cares about Victoria. The beautiful photography and the fact its primary distribution channel is a print magazine associate the brand with quality.
In businesses like architecture practices, where the sales process can be months or years, content is incredibly powerful because its effect burns slowly. Unless you get into the breaking news game, which you shouldn’t, good content can work its magic for months and years. ‘Evergreen’ content as it’s called in the biz. It’s the type of content that, on a website, works for a brand in several ways.
Even short-lived activities like events should be milked and leveraged for a long time through written content, photos, video… whatever.
Here are three starter ideas for content that can work well for architecture firms.
1. THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
It’s important not to just write and talk about issues that are important to you. Think about what’s important to your current and prospective high-value clients. Think about the critical issues and topics in your industry. Think about what keeps your clients awake at night. You can’t solve them with a blog post, but that’s not the point.
Even if you produce a white paper or report, the idea is to shape the perception of yourself as an expert in the right areas. Be thought-provoking – controversial, if you can – because creating content that doesn’t catch the target audience’s eye isn’t worth the time or money.
If having a point of view isn’t your thing, play the part of connector. Identify influencers and interesting people in the kind of organisation you want to target and then the principal or CEO should invite them to be interviewed. These can be a written interview or a video.
Or even a Twitter chat. The reason this works so well is that, besides giving you content to fill your calendar, it creates or reinforces a relationship by positioning the interviewee as a thought leader and person of importance.
Content doesn’t have to be entirely created by your business to be effective. Consider partnering on projects with clients, suppliers or publishers. Anywhere there are overlapping but non-competing objectives is open for brainstorming. Ask: can this party bring (a) skills or access needed to create great content, or (b) a distribution list we can leverage to get the content distributed?
A final word on distribution that applies to content marketing in general: invest in it. Great content is half the job. It’s a waste if the content doesn’t go where it needs to go to do its job. Think about advertising. Ninety percent of ad spend is buying the media. So don’t think that content – even amazing content – will distribute itself. Most so-called ‘viral’ videos online have been helped along the way by media spend.
As a rule of thumb, you don’t need to spend 1:9 on creation:distribution, but if you’ve got 10 grand to spend on a video series, reserve half for distribution. But, the better the content, the cheaper it will be to get it where it needs to go.
This article was written by Peter Roper from Niche Media, and has been re-published with permission from AustralianDesignReview.com.au.
Copyright: dedivan1923 / 123RF Stock Photo