The next article in our Q&A content marketing series produced by SmartCompany’s content marketing agency, Bureau, features Jody Hart, Director Marketing and Digital at TAFE Queensland.
Jody has more than a decade of experience in marketing, advertising, communication, and organisational culture and change across health and education. She caught up with SmartCompany’s content agency, Bureau, to share her thoughts on content marketing.
What’s your definition of content marketing?
Content marketing is really about empathising with your customers so they feel heard and seen. Delivering the right piece of content to the right person at the right time through the right channel is fundamental to how we position ourselves as a valued partner and supporter of our customers.
Putting the focus on being helpful lets us build a relationship and show value before we ask our customer to purchase from us. It builds trust and credibility which is essential to our broader marketing strategy and at the core of our brand.
How does this method work without overtly promoting a brand’s product/service?
First, we build trust by communicating our credibility, authenticity and reliability and by showing we are willing to put the customer’s best interests first. We want our content to reflect that we are humans having a conversation with another human.
That may mean they ultimately make a decision to go with another provider because they are a better fit, but even that has the two-fold benefit of improving customer retention and enabling us to establish a relationship of trust for a future opportunity that is a good fit.
How has content marketing changed over the past five years?
The expectations have skyrocketed. Five years ago if you had good content on one channel but weren’t quite there in others, I think consumers were more forgiving.
Now the expectations have grown and customers are looking for consistency in quality content, agnostic of channel or stage of the customer journey. This means we have to be strategic about which channels we use and disciplined in our execution. Measure twice cut once because we can’t afford to waste the time re-working content after the fact.
Content has become all pervasive, which is why we make it the engine room of our strategy. It feeds all of our channels. Each piece of content we create should be driving to the next action, so we need to always be two steps ahead and constantly refreshing and expanding the content we serve to customers.
How are audiences consuming content differently than previously?
B2B audiences are no longer satisfied with being the poor cousin when it comes to meeting their content needs. They want to be treated like unique humans as well.
We see the customer identifying the quality of the content they receive in the early stages of brand engagement directly impacts their view of the brand and the services they are considering. There is a huge opportunity for thought leaders to build personal brand clout based on their ability to deliver content that speaks to this audience.
For SMEs with a limited budget, what are the best tactics to use?
Focus on doing a few things really well. Find a customer problem that you can help with, and provide an authentic engaging experience on a channel you know your customers use. Fifteen second videos that communicate actionable advice are great. Show people unique content that no one else could give them.
Content is more pervasive than ever. How do you ensure your content gets cut through?
Firstly, by being clear about what job any piece of content is trying to achieve so we can get as close as possible to delivering the right message at the right time to the right person. Secondly, by being ruthless about ensuring that anything we produce directly inspires, informs or activates the brand.
Content should always be the answer to a customer question. If someone engages with your content and doesn’t recognise it as being authentic to you, hasn’t learnt something new, or knows what to do next, you are not ready to share it.
Has content moved beyond awareness and vanity metrics to more lead generation and ROI attribution models?
Yes, but there is always more work to do. We have simple tools that were built from content years ago that still generate us 200 new leads a week. However, understanding how it all fits together and which pieces are most valuable in driving the customer through our funnel remains a challenge.
There are pieces of content that work really hard for us at the bottom of the funnel that potentially never get the same credit.
What brands are doing it well and who isn’t doing it well?
I bought a toothbrush from Quip this year as a direct result of their content – I never thought I would be that passionate about a toothbrush. I think that locally MECCA does a great job engaging their customers and on a B2B front I think Marketo are doing good work to tailor messaging and content to range of decision markers across a business.
The truth about content marketing is that everyone needs to be thinking about doing things better. I think about where we were five years ago and think we are doing an incredible job now but we are still incredibly motivated to keep doing more and better for our customers.
Can you quantify the importance of video and voice over the coming years?
The expectations on video are huge. We have all stopped reading long format written content and we have started to see drop off in videos longer than 90 seconds. Voice is still emerging but I think we will see a generation coming through who just come to expect and assume that voice queries are a source of truth.
I have pre-school aged children and they can already navigate video and use voice assistance but look at a mouse and ask ‘what is this?’ That creates real challenges and opportunities and reinforces how critical content that addresses and responds to customer challenges and questions is.
Investing in building quality video and voice content is going to become essential for brands wanting to stay relevant and top of mind regardless of industry or audience, because that is what is going to be rewarded with search rankings.
Read more from Bureau‘s eight-part content marketing series here.
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.