Brands need to use the right content on the right platform at the right time: IAG Head of Content, Zara Curtis

The next article in our Q&A content marketing series produced by SmartCompany’s Melbourne content agency, Bureau, features Zara Curtis, IAG Director of Content & Customer Engagement.

She shares advice on how to be relevant in your product category, what SMEs can do on a shoestring budget and how content has changed over the past five years.

Zara has worked across sales, media, marketing and content for more than 20 years. IAG includes NRMA, CGU, SGIO and SGIC. In her IAG role she is responsible for content, social, programmatic, search, digital media teams and the internal content production studio Co.Lab.

Prior to this, Curtis was General Manager: Branded Entertainment, Licencing and Digital at Fremantlemedia where she created some of the largest 360 brands including Grand Designs, Family Feud and Xfactor both in Australia and overseas. Curtis has won multiple awards for her work in content for brands including Qantas, Woolworths, The Australian Ballet & Disney.

Passionate about great content and never satisfied with it, Zara adores mentoring women in the industry and sharing some of the amazing work IAG brands are doing in this country via storytelling.

What’s your definition of content marketing?

Content that engages or entertains an audience. The customer should always be the first priority. I like this quote from guru Arjun Basu, “Content without strategy is just stuff. And the world has enough stuff.” It’s easy to get very excited about content but it should always ladder back to what your strategy is.

How does this method work without overtly promoting a brand’s product/service?

You need to communicate the brand essence and what your brand stands for. Content marketing is often at the top of the marketing funnel with engagement. That couldn’t be more true than in the insurance category and what we do at IAG. Most importantly, it needs to be the right content on the right platform at the right time. It’s the principle of knowing who you’re marketing to and what stage of the customer journey they’re at without ramming your products and services message at the wrong time or on the wrong platform.

How has content marketing changed over the past five years?

It’s constantly changing. Media and technology companies are constantly updating their platforms and changing algorithms, it’s a lot for the modern marketing team to stay across. One of the biggest changes we have seen in the past five years is that in addition to your content production budget you now have to have a significant media amplification budget to make sure it reaches the right audience in a paid, owned and earned model. It’s not an inexpensive undertaking.

How are audiences consuming content differently than previously?

At the end of the day, they’re people and they have a pretty good sense of trusted sources and quality information. Whether they’re B2B or consumers, we don’t really treat them differently. The content we serve will be different but there will be commonalities in their behaviours.

For SMEs with a limited budget, what are the best tactics to use?

Use content channels where your audiences are most likely to be in the future is my number one piece of advice. Don’t feel the need to be on all platforms at all times. Research as much as you can about your audience before you launch your content marketing strategy. What you might find is that running content on one channel that has great engagement is better than multiple channels, especially on a limited budget.

Content is more pervasive than ever. How do you ensure your content gets cut through?

If your strategy is right, you have a better opportunity to get cut through. Targeting your consumer needs is important and the budget for amplification but the simple rule is the quality of content. That hasn’t changed over the years. If it’s great content and it’s engaging or entertaining, then your audience/customer will love it.

Has content moved beyond awareness and vanity metrics to more lead generation and ROI attribution models?

The biggest challenge for all marketers is one valid measurement across all platforms. It’s the biggest frustration too when I speak with colleagues and peers in other categories. At the end of the day you do have to justify what you are spending and why. There are a lot of categories that are more refined with this than us and seeing content deliver further down the funnel. For us now we are focussed on engagement in a low engaged category and our share of voice against competitors and the category. We are only a year or so into our content journey.

What brands are doing it well and who isn’t doing it well?

The fashion industry is often doing a great job as well as the airlines. The thing to remember is that they have great products to sell as well. In terms of categories that are more challenging, I love the work the CSIRO is doing at the moment. The NSW Police Force have a great tone and they stay true to being neutral but interesting and engaging. One of my favourites is the Big Bang AR app and it’s narrated by Tilda Swinton. It really points to the future of content and the role it can play in entertaining, educating and interacting with audiences.

Can you quantify the importance of video and voice over the coming years? 

We’ve all seen a rise in video consumption by consumers but I have no crystal ball but where this lands in the next few years. It will really be where audiences are consuming most of their content. There’s only so many hours in the day. We’ve seen the rise of podcasts. Here at IAG for our brand CGU we’ve commissioned a podcast series with SBS called “The Few Who Do” to target SMEs and we’re seeing great numbers and results coming through for that. As marketers, voice and any new trends are just more things to assess in our communications toolbox and we’ll all have to get across the developments especially in voice over the next few years.

Read more from Bureau‘s content marketing series here.

Voice will be essential for brand relevancy as search rankings shift with voice queries

Yoghurt brand Chobani divulges marketing tactics on how they’ve grown their social followers

Audiences are tired of listicles and clickbait headlines – brands must educate, inform or entertain

Influencers are playing a greater role in marketing says international software brand

Brands need to earn the right to mention their products by creating valuable content says ME Bank content lead

Marketing trends shift as voice spearheads new content tactics



Bureau is SmartCompany’s content agency helping brands attract and connect with small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. Bureau creates articles, ebooks, videos, podcasts and infographics from data-led insights to achieve marketing ROI for businesses.

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