A few things have occurred in recent weeks that are clear and tangible indicators the concept of content marketing is well and truly alive in Australian business circles – if not growing in popularity and influence.
Firstly, one of the world’s pre-eminent content marketing conference showcases, Content Marketing World (CMW), was held in Sydney. Led by renowned US-based content marketing guru, Joe Pulizzi, CMW played to a packed house and was enthusiastically received. (Salesforce has written an excellent summary on its blog).
Secondly, in the lead-up to CMW, Pulizzi’s Content Marketing Institute joined forces with the Association for Data-Driven Marketing & Advertising (ADMA) to produce a report titled: Content Marketing in Australia: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends (access the full report here).
A couple of key takeaways from the report:
• Spending on content marketing in Australia is set to increase by 61%, with 12% of respondents saying they will be “significantly increasing” their budget this year.
• 96% of respondents use content marketing. Broken down, this is 98% for business-to-business marketers, and 89% for business-to-consumer (by comparison, this is greater than their B2B counterparts in North America, at 91% and the UK, at 95%).
It’s not surprising the use of content by companies is widespread, with Australian marketers using an average of 12 content marketing tactics, the most popular tools being:
• Articles on company website (88%);
• Social media other than blogs (83%);
• E-newsletters (82%);
• In-person events (74%;
• Case studies (71%);
• Video (69%).
However, while there is some definite movement on the content marketing front in Australia, we also need to differentiate between those companies that create content with little in the way of substance or purpose, and those that are producing content not only with strategic intent but also verve and passion (and believe me, you can tell).
The latter companies are, as a rule, led by progressive thinkers and doers – early adopters who have realised the power of infusing their social media efforts with compelling content relevant to the needs of their audience.
They are the ones that are building their platform and their brand, attracting new customers and cementing relationships with existing ones. Importantly, they have a head-start on their competitors, and good luck to them.
The issue with trends such as this one – the explosive growth of using content as a marketing strategy – means there will be companies that jump onto the bandwagon because, well, everyone else is doing it. But it’s not a good idea if your corporate heart isn’t fully into the concept.
Just because you can create your own content for distribution online doesn’t mean you should. Here are seven reasons that might be the case with your brand.
1. You can’t commit for the long term
Like all good relationship-marketing initiatives, content-based activity is most effective when implemented with purpose over the long haul. If you can’t see further than your next quarter’s sales results, it’s probably not worth the effort.
2. You are not prepared to devote the necessary resources
Undertaking a long-term, strategic content marketing program takes time, effort and resources, both financial and in terms of staff commitment. Sure, the budget will probably be dwarfed by any mainstream media advertising program you’ve got going, but you will still want to allocate a realistic budget if you’re serious. And yes, you will require assistance from employees plus you might also need to bring in extra bodies with specialist skills.
3. You won’t open up the organisation
Done well, content marketing will require you to open up your company and be a lot more transparent than you perhaps have been in the past. The fact it forces you to do this (as is the case with social media marketing) is a good thing. But if you’re uncomfortable in welcoming people from “the outside world” (ie your customers) behind the velvet rope of your business operation, then save yourself some angst and remained closed off and disconnected.
4. You won’t give out any information
Further to point three, if you’re hesitant about sharing your expertise and knowledge, or about “giving away” too much of your company’s IP, then content marketing is not for you. Why? Because best practice content marketing is about being useful and helpful as a means of demonstrating your expertise in a particular area. It’s out there for all to see, and thus is effective in attracting customers who are interested in what you have to say.
5. You refuse to experiment
While the concept of content marketing is not new – indeed Joe Pulizzi traces its origins back to the late 1880s when agricultural company John Deere started printing The Furrow magazine for farmers – the way in which we create and deliver content today is largely new and different. To find out what works best for your company, you have to take some chances and experiment a little.
6. You want instant results
Much of what content marketing (and attendant social media participation) is about is building relationships with existing and potential customers and influencers over time. If you go for the “kill” straight away – asking for the sale without building a relationship first with your audience – in all likelihood you will fail with your content marketing efforts.
7. You can’t ditch the corporate ego
To be effective, a company’s content needs to add value by helping people through the provision of easy-to-understand information. It needs to cut through and get noticed, and/or be shared around people’s personal online networks. It should inform, empower, inspire and/or entertain.
If you make it all about you – about how awesome your brand is, how great your products and services are – people will simply ignore you. And being ignored is death as far as content marketing (indeed, any marketing) is concerned.
Bottom line: the world does not need more information. If you can create and share content on an ongoing basis that adds value, provides utility, is helpful and gets people thinking – content that informs or empowers – then yes, welcome to the brave new cost-effective world of content marketing.