Are you wavering over whether or not content is a worthwhile investment for your brand or business? Not quite ready to put your money where y(our) mouth is? We’ve gathered some key talking points from the experts at Publish Or Perish: The Content Conference to put paid to those niggling doubts.
1. Content marketing drives ROI
Hands down, the biggest question on every marketing manager’s lips is: ‘can content deliver a return for my business?’ While content may look good, add value and tickle your audience pink, the end goal is moving that bottom line.
The answer is yes, dramatically so, in some cases, as our keynote speaker John Collins of Intercom attested during his talk ‘how content grew an Irish start-up from a $1m to $50m tech company’.
Under his stewardship as director of content, the integrated customer communications platform Intercom has used rich, valuable content to establish itself as a respected authority in the technology, sales and marketing fields, building a loyal audience and ultimately converting leads into customers.
Lessons from John Collins and Intercom? A decision to use content to drive business growth has to come from the very top of a business, and be correctly implemented – that means investing in planning, production and workflow systems, upholding editorial quality and devising a sustainable strategy that will allow you to optimise and scale your content output; in short, content marketing is a long-ball game, not a quick-fix. If taken seriously and done well, it’s also a potentially lucrative marketing strategy.
2. Publishing content creates an engaged community of prospects
“Publishing content over time that consistently addresses your audience’s interests will build respect and confidence with users”, said 7 Stage speaker Gillian Fitzpatrick, who oversees an always-on stream of content for 3 million monthly users as editor of Her.ie and HerFamily.ie.
Once you’ve effectively initiated that all-important relationship, your brand will have essentially created a community of potential customers, in a high-receptive phase, at its fingertips. This in turn builds loyalty, which as we all know, leads to more readily converted prospects and repeat customers.
3. Content is not a fad set to fizzle out; it will soon be the norm
Maybe you see content marketing, and native advertising in particular, as a fad that you’re just going to sit out. Or perhaps you belong to the school of thought that views content as ‘added value’, a ‘nice to have’ tagged on to marketing campaigns, as many in the industry do.
Audience trends would suggest otherwise, according to Michael Freeman, creative commercial director of Journal Media. During his main-stage talk (‘Where’s the line between brand and editorial? And why this is the wrong question’) Michael claimed that, not only has content had an easy ride so far, but that “branded content is going to become the norm, and audiences will come to expect it…content will soon stop being a ‘nice to have’ and ‘something cool’ and be seen a ‘must have’.”
The question is, will you wait for everyone else in the industry to start following this line of thought, or will you acknowledge the audience trends and lead the way?
4. Creating meaningful content is a more honest, effective way of selling
Creating good content is an authentic route to engaging your customers, as opposed to the hackneyed, age-old, sales pitch. Publishing something worth reading, watching or listening to is the key to creatively cutting through the noise.
“Find out what the audience’s interests are! People aren’t stupid, we know when brands are trying to sell to us” warned Fiona Cunniffe of Havas during her 7 Stage talk ‘7 values that create meaningful content’ with colleague Fiona Geoghegan. If you’re going to sell to an audience, why not answer some of their questions, needs, desires around your product or service?
Or, as Michael Freeman put it during his talk: “this way, you’re not tricking (your audience) into something they don’t want to be a part of, you’re inviting them in to be a part of something cool.”
5. Acting like a publisher is a game-changer
Jobbio, the online employment ‘marketplace’, is a stellar example of a business that adopted the publisher mentality in its marketing strategy to drive growth. Speaking on the main stage, director of content Cassie Delaney asserted that “effective content moves people, bringing them from a place of ignorance to a place of understanding”.
Using the customer data the site collects as a jumping-off point, Jobbio’s content and employer branding team takes an editorial approach, i.e by starting with the person and finishing with the brand. This strategy has effectively driven growth for the Irish company, which launched a new content channel #Shattertheglass in September to promote jobs available to women in tech.
6. Your business already has access to free tools to create content
“Content is only free if you put zero value on your time”, according to Publish Or Perish keynote speaker John Collins. This is true of course – unless you expect writers, digital managers, videographers, photographers and all involved to work for free.
That said, as any simple Google search will show, there’s no end to free content marketing tools for your content team to use in the planning, production or publication phases.
In fact, there are some tools your company already has access to, that you’re just not utilising. Take Twitter and Facebook for instance, said Olytico MD Stephen O’Leary during his 7 Stage talk (‘7 steps to learning about your audience using social listening’). Regardless of whether your company is new to content or publishing with some frequency, there are some very straightforward ways to tap these social media platforms for content material – such as by monitoring trending topics, monitoring direct and indirect mentions of your brand and competitors, or keeping tabs on your wider industry and its thought leaders.
“The most basic content you can create is by responding to someone who is talking about your company” – i.e. there are no excuses for brands not to be creating content on even a very simple level. And, explained Stephen, once a brand covers off the basics, these platforms can be used to mine for a deeper level of social listening – at no additional cost.
7. The modern marketing manager needs to adapt and evolve
92% of marketers in the US polled by the Content Marketing Institute recently view content as a business asset. The Irish market has a way to go to close that gap, but the need to upskill in terms of content skills is undeniable, “the marketing manager today is the conductor of the orchestra, content is part of that orchestra; it’s called boundary spanning,” said Dr. Mairead Brady, Assistant Professor in Marketing at the Trinity College School of Business, during our panel discussion on the make up of the modern marketer. Either you adapt and evolve with the times, bringing your team along with you, or you run the risk of being left behind.