Showing posts with label content marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label content marketing. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 27

Marketing Myths: Frequency Is Not Familiarity

The Nielsen Global Survey recently released a study that suggests 60 percent of global consumers would prefer to buy new products from a familiar brand rather than a new one. According to organizations like Brafton News, this means marketers with established brands need content to cultivate continued loyalty while emerging businesses need trust and awareness through lead generation efforts.

But do they really?

Marketers thought they learned something valuable during the last Super Bowl, with many of them dazzled by the perfectly-timed Oreo advertisement insertion during the event blackout. The impact of that one advertisement primed the creative pumps of many marketers who went on to help turn the Academy Awards into a real-time marketing fiasco.

They weren't the only ones who learned that over insertion can be a bad thing. Michelle Obama drew unexpected but fair criticism that the White House and the Academy Awards jumped the shark by having her read the best picture winner a few nights ago. It illustrates how everything has an ad maximum and then it becomes ad nauseum. The First Family doesn't need to insert itself into everything.

And this is where the Brafton assessment and the original Nielsen assessment of the same survey are so different. Nielsen didn't suggest that the answer was more content and communication. The company suggested that companies need to uncover unmet consumer needs and clearly communicate those distinct product innovations with an optimal marketing strategy.

In other words, frequency really can be wasted and many brands did that at the Academy Awards when they attempted to hijack social network conversations and make the message about them instead of, well, the movies. It's like most of them forgot, all at once, that overloading communication again and again and again can lead to negative impressions as much as positive ones.

So why do they forget? Because most marketers are stuck on studies that prove the opposite. And they are partly right to believe those studies because they are true. Repetition has an impact. Attracting attention counts. Frequency is important. But let's forget that familiarity can also breed contempt.

Brand familiarity works. Identity familiarity does not. 

Part of the problem is that marketers, social media marketers specifically but public relations and traditional marketers included, are confusing identity insertion with brand relevance and content marketing with trending topic chatter.

What's the difference? One focuses all communication on the relationship between the brand and the consumer, reinforcing the qualities that count and the emotions that shore up loyalty. The other attempts to insert the company name or logo or product into every conversation.

To put the difference into another perspective — identity insertion is like the kid who always raised his hand in class because he knew every answer, the little brother or sister who was always chased from the room, the stalker who would cast long and unwelcome glances at the back of your neck until every stray hair stood up on end. They are the attention hogs, interruptive pests, and creepy people.

Brand driven organizations are those that develop such a strong relationship with the consumer that when the generic term or experience has some relevance in their lives — e.g., cola, soup, tissues — the consumer immediately thinks Coke, Campbell's, and Kleenex. Or, in other words, Kleenex doesn't need you to have the brand on your mind every minute of every day. They only need you to think about them when you sneeze or, bonus, anytime you feel the need to prepare for seasonal colds.

They don't achieve this kind of top-of-mind awareness by hijacking current events. They achieve it by manufacturing a quality product that is a little softer on your nose but strong enough to get the job done. And then, once they've met this need, they communicate the distinction with advertising as an introduction. That is how powerful branding works. Familiarity through relevance over frequency.

Monday, January 14

Burping Content: It's Not A Social Media Strategy

As content marketing remains a priority for many marketing managers this year, more people have been keen to make the case that more posts means more traffic. Why not? Frequency is an easy argument to make.

More content means more leads. More content means a longer tail. More content means more to share on social networks. More site traffic means more sales. Even as HubSpot points out, businesses that post 20 times a month generate five times more traffic and four times more leads than those that only post a few times a month.

See that? Frequency is the easiest case to make about content marketing. Everybody ought to make more of whatever.

Except, burping out more content isn't a strategy. 

More doesn't always mean more. Sometimes more can help, but frequency is dependent on variables that are harder to pin down. It depends on who or whom is providing the more. It depends on what kind of more you want to provide. It depends on whether or not the content is sustainable or finite. It depends on your business objective beyond traffic and popularity.

Who will be providing more content? A single content creator ratcheting up from one post a week to five posts a week might pick up more traffic or, depending on the value of the content, could oversaturate the audience. For the creators specifically, it could also lead to burnout, writing posts with a diminishing value proposition as objectives shift from valuable to just getting something up.

The reality is that too much of one voice, especially if it wears a brand mask, can become a bit boorish. People appreciate diversity, which is how Facebook maintains a top traffic spot. Millions of people provide the content (with some content providers more appreciated than others). Imagine what it might be like if all the content was generated by Zuckerberg. Right. Crickets.

The takeaway? Every content creator has a unique carrying capacity, dependent on topic, content, ability, and presence. More content might mean more authors, but only if they can match the spirit of the niche publication. Too much deviation can carry consequences much like not enough diversity.

What kind of content will it be? One of the most written about YouTube success stories is Will It Blend? by Blendtec. It is referenced so often that doing so nowadays has almost become cliche.

However, Will It Blend? by Blendtec is worth mentioning here because more content wouldn't have helped. If it had became a daily episode, two things might have happened. The best of its content would have been buried before it had a chance to spread. And second, it could have potentially destroyed any anticipation people felt for the next installment. So, for the most part, once a month seems about right for Blendtec, even if some months never cross the million mark.

The takeaway? Some companies undo their own their impact by swinging wildly between market saturation and market starvation. But content marketing isn't suited to sprints. It's more like a marathon, with content being delivered consistently with purpose.

How consistently sustainable is the topic? When you look at website like TripAdvisor, which has become a top destination research site, content sustainability might be defined as the number of destinations that exist in the world, continually refreshed by the diverse perspectives from authors who visit and report on these destinations based on their popularity. Ergo, a hotdog stand in Nebraska is likely to receive fewer updates than a hotel in San Francisco.

So why would it be any different for the respective companies? If a hotdog stand in Nebraska and a hotel in San Francisco both had blogs, chances are that the hotel will generate more content than the hotdog stand. Sure, there are some exceptions. If the hotdog stand was managed by the Dalai Lama, it could sustain considerably more content. But then again, I doubt the content would be about hotdogs.

The takeaway? Consider sustainability based on how often there will be new content to share, which will usually be driven by how often there is something new to report within the context of the site. The concept harkens back to days when public relations firms used to promise a certain number of releases every month without ever asking the company if it could sustain that many newsworthy prospects per month. Many cannot, unless they happen to have a public relations pro digging for it.

What is the business objective beyond sales? As content marketing becomes important to marketers, marketers have to remember that content marketing is the means to an end and not an end to the means. The goal of content marketing isn't to make a website the most visited space on the Internet unless the business is a website (and even that might depend on what kind of business it is and what industry it operates in). So what is the end?

It really depends on the organization's objectives and communication plan, especially long term. While Apple always makes for an interesting example around innovation, an even better fit here would be the rock band Rush. It sounds silly, but the band isn't very different from a business.

Specifically, had Rush employed the same tactics that many social media experts do today, it would have debuted with a disco album in 1974 and not the blues-infused heavy metal that eventually evolved into progressive rock (with lyrics that draw heavily upon science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy). Of course, if they had done disco, it seems wildly unlikely that these invulnerable outsiders would have eventually sold the third-most number of albums in history, third behind The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The takeaway? Rush stuck to its objective to make a certain kind of music while the rest of the world thrived and died by whatever trends seemed successful for the moment. The same thing happens within the rapidly evolving space of social media. Many people and companies thrive and die with whatever seems popular at the moment, only to be forgotten about the following year. Never change your strategy for something as fickle as popularity.

Friday, December 7

Marketing Content: Small Business Tips

Pamela Muldoon at Next Stage Media has put together a decent list of four simple questions to ask for small businesses that want to explore content marketing. By using a jewelry store as an example, Muldoon was able to flesh up a content marketing primer that every business ought to think about.

The first four questions proposed by Next Stage Media.

1. What are the seasonal conversations and events for your business or industry? 

Muldoon suggests that first step of any content marketing begins with the easiest step first. Know when your customers think about your products. In this case, a jeweler ought to be planning for content on or around Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day.

Advice enhancement: While the advice is spot on, there are plenty of other prompts content marketers ought to consider. St. Patrick's Day, for example, screams emeralds. Many other gems have seasonal appeal too. And any jewelry can create dates by advocating community service and nonprofit connections.

2. What does your target audience need to know about your product(s) based on time of year?

It's ideal that Muldoon offers up some in-depth understanding about the customer's purchasing experience. In this example, she suggests knowing the purchasing cycle of the customer — knowing when they are about to propose and how far out they need to plan for the engagement ring.

Advice enhancement: This is all smart stuff. If you can raise the right questions and answers at the right time, people will be more likely to turn to you for advice. While that may seem hard to map out, many jewelers can look for proposal trends and then calculate how many months in advance people start thinking about it and shopping for rings.

3. What questions do the customers of your industry have that will improve their current situation?

One of the best prospects of social media is to move beyond the product. The point here is simple enough. For the most part, people can buy a 'diamond' anywhere. In order to be more successful, small businesses need to differentiate themselves in different ways. It could be the cuts, stones, designers, personal touch, customer service, or any number of differences.

Advice enhancement: Demonstrating a clear contrast between one business and another is critical regardless of the industry. This almost always goes beyond a unique selling proposition (USP) because most USPs are created based on what clients think is the best in their field as opposed to the differences that exist between them and another.

4. What else does your target audience spend money on throughout the year?

By far, this was one of my favorite bits of advice. Muldoon correctly establishes that people are 3-dimensional and cannot be afraid to provide content beyond their product offerings.

Advice enhancement: While Muldoon suggests offering a larger product portfolio to prospects, companies don't always have to move beyond their product or service offerings. Sometimes advice is enough, especially as it relates directly or indirectly back to the product. Ergo, depending on the jeweler, people (especially existing customers) might like to learn a few fashion tips or closely related topical advice, ranging from etiquette to experiences.

The best content marketing strategies consider marketing, public relations and editorial. 

While I'm not a fan of the pressures to increase the quantity of content marketing, I am very much in favor of improving content quality. All four questions are a solid first step for small businesses to appreciate that they might have something to contribute. Consider it a starter set because once a base is established there are dozens of unique aspects to every business, ranging from new products being introduced to caring for products long after the customer purchases them.

It's also a good idea to remember that text isn't the only form of content available. Video, images and interactive experiences can all play a role in developing context. And, above all, never forget to listen to walk-in customers, the questions they ask, and the stories about designers that they want to hear.

If you consider all the possibilities after launching base content, new paths will present themselves — areas that are underserved or co-op opportunities that never existed before. As they do, it will also become more clear that content marketing is shaping up to be one of the better integrated communication concepts that any company can effectively deploy next year as long as they think it through first.

Monday, November 26

Chasing Content: B2B Doubles Down On Ineffective

According to the Content Marketing Institute, B2B marketers are bullish on content marketing. Almost 90 percent of B2B businesses (88 percent) will retain or increase (54 percent) their content marketing budgets in 2013. Ten percent aren't sure if their budgets will be increased/decreased, leaving only 2 percent expecting to cut their content marketing budgets.

While all this data suggests that content marketing — articles, blogs, infographics, email newsletters, and social networks — works, it's not working for most. Only one-third of these marketers believes their content marketing is effective. So why invest more?

B2B doubles down on quantity, not quality. 

With the majority of B2B marketers developing large in-house teams to manage all their content marketing efforts, many think that their greatest challenge will be producing enough content. That means more posts, more email, more social network updates, and more [fill in the blank] will be the new measure of success.

What many don't realize, however, is that they are contributing to the largest marketing arms race in history. It's the outcome of a strategy, if we can call it a strategy, that suggests whoever produces more content wins. Yes. Over saturation alone, literally drowning the audience in communication, will somehow lead to greater market share.

When some marketers ask why they don't believe their content marketing is effective, few think it is quality, purpose, or value of the content. Most seem to think they either need more content or bigger advertising budgets for their tactical campaigns. (Tactical is an important word here, given that the majority of companies employ 18 content tactics on average.)

It makes sense that they think this way. Seventy-nine percent consider brand awareness the number one priority for their content marketing efforts. Almost half believe that sharing content is an important measurement. More than half believe that website traffic is a leading measurement criteria for success.

It's also unfortunate that they are mostly wrong. Sound strategies that produce tangible outcomes produce success. The rest of it is magic, with maybe a little smoke and mirrors.

On any given day, I can increase my site traffic by several thousand percent. It doesn't take much effort. A few ad buys here and there can make the least valuable content ever published look popular. The real question is whether or not the content is effective, which is directly dependent on strategic goals and not shares or likes or the usual measures.

Setting goals to sales isn't a suitable measure either. All marketing efforts directly or indirectly support sales. If they didn't, why would a company chose to do them? It doesn't really make sense.

Setting the right objective is a simple concept that eludes many marketers. 

There are dozens of ways to slice strategic communication, but let's start with one — the most obvious. Marketers ought to be less concerned with brand awareness and more concerned with brand integrity.

Brand integrity means that not only do people know who you are, but also what you do and, ideally, that you do it well. Awareness alone is futile. Ergo, Gen. Pertraeus has more brand awareness now than at any time in his career. The scandal ought to be a footnote in his career and not the other way around. It might have been a footnote too, but awareness has eclipsed any previous integrity that reached a smaller audience.

The point is what we communicate is ten times as important as how much we communicate. And what we communicate ought to be based solely on the objectives of the company.

Sure, there are a few baselines that ought to be considered minimums for certain media (e.g., writing a blog post once a month is not necessarily better than none), but marketers might start thinking smarter than simply trying to outproduce and outspend their competitors. If you don't think your content marketing is effective, it probably isn't. And if it isn't, it ought to be fixed before you toss in more dollars.

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