Remember the days when television networks signed off at midnight? That changed when TV executives decided to fill the air waves 24/7, from then on. But these same execs also realized they couldn’t just spew random content; to they adopted a programming cycle starting with morning news, weather and sports – moving to daytime, prime time and late night.
Today’s content marketers have a similar cycle; many map content to the buyer’s path to purchase. For example, content applied to awareness marketing might include stories that defend a point-of-view or scenarios that convincingly describe how an emerging trend might play out. If buyers find the story relevant and useful – they advance to interest and desire, where content gets even more relevant, more personal. Creative content not only captivates customers; it helps drive them to purchase.
But first, the vision thing…
Gartner sees a lot of well-intended marketers dive straight into content marketing’s creative process at the expense of crafting vision and goals (it’s understandable; the creative side of content marketing is more fun; see also, https://blogs.gartner.com/jake-sorofman/building-a-content-supply-chain/)
If this describes you, in full or in part, take a step back and formulate your vision for content marketing. How can your leading business priorities, your burning marketing objectives become more wildly successful with skillful application of relevant content? Now set some goals. State the business metrics you’re trying to impact (by how much and by when) by applying content to your marketing initiatives.
Now the creative…
Armed with vision and goals, you can now get as creative as you want, by exploring the many ways you can strategically execute your vision. GE for example, in its campaign to sustain its image as an innovator, hired documentary filmmakers to trace the personal and financial investment (and inevitable setbacks) of innovators that changed the world.
They end with well placed calls-to-action, inviting a closer look at the setbacks and victories that come from GE’s own innovation labs. The message couldn’t be more clear: GE gets what it takes to traverse the financial rigor and emotional demands of innovation.
Others make content marketing interactive. Audi for example, skillfully uses its content to move buyers from interest to action with its showroom of the future, letting buyers explore the Audi fleet in detail. Buyers are then offered tools to design and select their own Audi, guided by their lifestyle preferences. Next, they’re shown content that details pricing, cost-of-ownership analyses – and finance and leasing options. Audi uses its content to drive buyers to an outcome. Delta Airlines provides another example. Like Audi, it lets travelers envision a personal outcome, by describing a dream vacation at its many travel kiosks in airports.
Making this happen is not unlike the editorial process you see at any publisher, whether print, broadcast or multimedia. CSC for example, has done a wonderful job installing a newsroom-style organization, complete with producers, managing editors, writers, and artists (view their organizational strategy in our note on marketing organization design, here). Also, if you’re a Gartner for Marketing Leaders subscriber, read why “Content Marketing Pushes Digital Marketing to Adopt Newsroom Habits.”
Content marketing provides a powerful fuel for your all your initiatives. But it happens best when based on a vision and a strategy for what my Gartner colleague recently described as continuous storytelling. Like television broadcasters, content marketers need to plan their line up with the goal of drawing in, engaging—and delighting—their audiences.
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