Everyone in the digital marketing world knows that content is king, right? After all, we are deep into the information age. Right? Does anyone really know?
Maybe it’s time to stop and ask ourselves whether we are just parroting phrases published relentlessly by self-appointed subject matter experts.
Here are a few questions marketers should be asking as we move into 2015, which could very well be a milestone year for content marketing:
- Content comes in so many forms today. How can all of content be king?
- Doesn’t it make sense that some of it will be better and some of it will be worse?
- Isn’t context just as important as content? How can content be king without a strategy?
- What can we do to make our content work harder and smarter?
There are a lot of contradictions that pass for marketing wisdom these days. Rather than latching onto the latest buzzword and catch phrase, maybe it’s time for marketers to experiment with some contrarian approaches. Here are some thoughts to help stimulate your thinking.
Long Live Long-Form
If we’re living in an age of continually decreasing attention spans, why is long-form content so effective for creating audience engagement? For a great example of this, let’s take a look at how the folks at Marvel Entertainment, LLC approach long-form marketing and how effective it has proven to be for them.
The Marvel team found some investors, hired some writers and a director, and made a movie about one of their comic book characters. Not only was the movie a hit that made a boatload of money, but you and your kids paid money to be entertained by what is essentially a two-hour advertisement for a comic book character. And, it was effective advertising. Comic book sales continue to boom after every movie.
Who says people have short attention spans? You just paid to watch a two-hour commercial for a comic book. Now that’s great marketing! But, it’s only possible because it breaks the mold. Since it is longer than 30 seconds and has a storyline with heroes and villains, it doesn’t seem like a commercial.
How can you do something like this with your business? Every marketer should be interested in long-form marketing. It will not be right for every instance, but it should be part of the marketer’s repertoire.
Create It, Then Tear It Down
Taking the long-form content, after it is created and then breaking it down, and marketing the pieces and parts makes a lot of sense as well. Let’s say you take the time to create a compelling series of stories about the successes your customers experience with your product or service. If you put your long-form content together knowing that you’re going to be breaking this content up at a later date to fuel multi-channel campaigns targeted at specific customer segments, you have the beginnings of a content marketing strategy.
Let’s Get Serious
All of this points to the fact that content marketing is more than just publishing content. Content marketing requires a strategy, and a strategy requires context. Without these two essential elements, content is nothing more than disorganized noise.
The simplest framework for defining context is a specific goal with a specific target audience. Once you’ve established a goal, it is relatively easy to establish your metrics for success, and this, in turn, will help you measure ROI on your content marketing efforts. With only 21% of marketers successful at measuring and tracking ROI for their content marketing efforts, this is an area that could definitely benefit from more rigorous attention.
As marketers gather more and more personal information about their target markets and customers, audiences will seem more fragmented than ever before. As the market data matures, more and more specialized niches will emerge. This is a good thing in that it will enable brands to tailor personalized experiences for customers more specifically and meaningfully than ever before. It will also mean more attention must be paid to managing and analyzing data. Marketers must be prepared to revise their assumptions about their audiences as they learn more about them.
It’s All About the Stories
Long-form marketing works because of the story it tells. Tearing down long-form content works because different aspects of the story apply to different segments of the audience. Every segment or niche has it’s own story that marketers must understand in order to deliver meaningful content to that niche. More than ever before, effective marketing will be about telling great stories.
This is a guest post written by Ivan Serrano. Ivan is a web journalist living in the Bay Area of California. His content covers topics such as social media, marketing and small business, and when he's not writing, he'll probably be off practicing photography around the city or watching sports with friends.