It is often the not so visible that makes an impact that is visible
Brand Marketing is often about making a direct impact, being measurable, being highly visible and exciting. Copy writing is usually about writing catchy phrases to get the short attention of the media fatigued customer. After all, being thrown one-way messages throughout the day may not be the interest of many. After a while it is media spends and multichannel reach that marketers use as major tools to get into the mind of the consumer. This approach is good to build brand recall and to get consumers to pick your products from a supermarket shelf where competitors are jostling for space and promoters and retailers are pushing their agenda.
Digital Marketing too has largely followed the same path – Banner Ads, Pop Ups, Paid Search Campaigns using competitor’s brands as key words. And not to forget, good old-fashioned SEO that also has been accused of practices like key word stuffing, fake id creation and posting on forums and generating traffic and keyword ranking at the cost of relevance.
SEO and Content Marketing
For most marketers (who I know), SEO is a blur. SEO is an activity that they would simply like to outsource. It is a task that they may not have many skills in or the bandwidth to handle.
SEO has traditionally been sold as a service that promises to get X number of key words ranked in the Top Y of the search engine. As part of SEO it is not uncommon to have short blogs that used to build traffic and back links. Not necessarily relevant traffic for ecommerce conversions, but traffic.
SEO has been more about traffic and page listing level and not so much about ecommerce conversions. And brands have not been much into ecommerce directly so this has not been a priority or measurable matrix in any case – Less than 1% of websites worldwide are ecommerce enabled.
In most cases, SEO is only accountable for traffic generation and not conversions and sales.
As any responsible marketer would want – spend money and get real results (sales)
Often results that are short term and can visibly get us end results almost instantaneously are the most preferred. Like instant noodles. Cooked in 2 minutes, are tasty and satisfy hunger. Not the same though as a well-made meal with good ingredients, cooked with care and that has longer-term benefits, which may not be visible today.
How healthy would our body be if our focus were to satisfy hunger and not be concerned about the health? Or to beautify the external part of the body while the inside suffers?
The need to focus on the consumer
In this whole race, there is one person whose interests seem to be forgotten – the customer. Who buys our products, pays our salaries and whose satisfaction should be our only mantra.
Content Marketing – an essential element of your marketing mix
This is where our attention needs to move – To a majorly overlook aspect and essential strategic initiative – that of Content Marketing.
Good content is like good blood. It circulates and feeds various parts of our marketing tentacles. Once we have a sound content strategy AND good content generation, it can feed various customer touch points
Content can flow to various parts of the marketing and media mix
How do we embark on a content marketing program?
- On your website
- On your ecommerce store
- On your ecommerce marketplace listings
- As a sales tool for you in-store promoters
- For the contact centre
- For social media
- On packaging
- For consumer outreach including email campaigns
- As part of online PR
- Have a vision at a company and brand level. Such vision creation must be the role of the CMO
- Create a strategy covering the target audience, the stage in the buying cycle and the brand positioning
- Make a plan based on the strategy. This would have a definite time period with a commitment of 1-2 years at the very minimum
The plan would cover
- The content to be generated
- The placement and marketing of such content
- Roles and responsibilities
With many agencies and sources serving the brand, it is important to clearly identify the roles and responsibilities and to allocate an appropriate budget for such a critical strategic initiative
Questions to be answered include
Content Costs Money
- Who is the brand guardian at the organisation and brand level
- What is the continuity plan for the guardian – given that everyone wants to move on and change roles over time, there has to be continuity of belief and effort
- Who will generate original content
- How will it be adapted and modified based on the channel of placement
- At which time and periods will the content be generated
- Where will it be placed
- Who will place it
- Who will track the content marketing effort and how
- Which technologies will be used
- Which mediums will be used
Given the nature of the work, content creation and marketing usually requires substantial time and money commitment. It is not an easy activity, specially if we are dependent on outside resources to assist with the content generation
Serious content requires serious intent!
Simple mathematics. If creating a 1000 word original and relevant piece of content costs say Rs. 5000, for us to have 500 such articles written over 2 years would cost Rs. 2,500,000. On top of that, the effort of editing, adapting, placing, managing, tracking can cost an equal amount if not more. And this does not include production costs of videos, audios and photos.
Marketers need to make a content marketing commitment and put it as part of their marketing plan.
And this is not part of the standard SEO activities. This is content marketing for the brand and it goes beyond SEO (though it will most certainly positively impact SEO rankings!)
Content Marketing and SEO is not one and the same thing. But can be termed as two sides of the same coin.
While selecting a partner for content marketing, look for the skills that are relevant.
- Ability to understand the Brand Vision, Values and Objectives
- Access to resources who can author genuine, authentic, original and relevant content for the appropriate target audience
- An understanding of how the content would be places across multiple channels in a meaningful manner. More so about its online placement.
- Willingness to work with results, not only action
In my mind, content is like blood
- Needs to be generated on an ongoing basis
- Existing needs to be refreshed over time
- Any transfusion (new content) needs to match the strategy and the existing plan
- It takes time and effort to generate good quality
- It is invisible but does its work!
For more insights into the topic please contact the author