We all know that content is more important than ever in marketing. Think about which ads or campaigns stick with you – and you’ll likely realize that it’s typically the content itself that resonates, rather than a smart placement or a unique product. As panelist Joe Rosenthal from Ogilvy noted, “You don’t want to be lectured to. You don’t want to be sold to.” Rather, marketers must develop interesting, relevant content that reconciles the consumer’s needs and wants with the product’s offering.
Three weeks after the annual Medill Talent Q Expo, here’s what’s still rattling around in my head. (Plus, as a result of my procrastination, you can access videos of the whole expo right here.)
What Makes Content Worthy
Tom Doctoroff’s keynote, “Content: The Universal Currency of Connection,” was excellent. He traced the evolution of content of all types, with plenty of examples – and challenged us to rethink how we approach brands.
As he explained, brands have moved from priest to publisher – but they must also retain some trappings of the priesthood by demonstrating expertise.
Worthy content has four key attributes:
Content must be born of a brand idea, which is a bilateral relationship between brand and consumers. This brand idea forges order in an increasingly chaotic landscape. Within that idea, you need content of all types, from lightweight, snack-size social content through journalistic content (thought leadership in the B2B world), to full-on, cinematographic heavyweights. They each have their purpose and place and audience.
Content is a gift, not an offer. Doctoroff mentioned the insert cards in magazines as an example of an “intrusion,” rather than a solution. (So why do we still do pop-up ads? I cringe when these come up in media plans.)
Content must be purposeful, thoughtfully designed to change behavior and move a buyer along the journey. But today, it must be quick. We’re trying to get consumers to notice, learn, buy, and advocate – MORE.
Content must be user-centric. Doctoroff advocates for “freedom in a framework” – giving users the tools they need to talk about their experience with the brand, in a way that harnesses their voices while protecting the brand. He mentioned the “More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, in which the Philippines Department of Tourism released a font and other parameters – and invited locals and tourists alike to share what they love most about the Philippines.
B2B from the Spiegel Research Center
Current IMC students talked about B2B content marketing, which gets so little attention in the larger marketing community, sharing results from their work with the Spiegel Research Center. While 88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, across an average of more than 13 channels, marketers must shift from content proliferation to optimization and personalization. The students used data analysis to play “matchmaker,” determining how best to map specific accounts to channels and topics. While high-touch, account-based marketing accomplishes the same thing, these students used segmentation to develop several industry-based groups across thousands of accounts. The result? A scorecard that indicated which types of content (webinar, email, etc) and topics drove the greatest engagement (and sales) for each segment – helping marketers invest their budgets in the most optimal channels.
As a B2B marketer, I would love to have access to the data needed to develop this type of scorecard in my work!
Change through Storytelling
But the example that’s really stuck with me after three weeks was a commercial for, of all things, Indian laundry detergent. Ariel is a Procter & Gamble company, rooted in an Indian society that’s changing rapidly. As women enter the workforce, they’re still usually tasked with the vast majority of housework. Ariel launched its #SharetheLoad campaign that touches on this history – and where India is going. The Ariel messaging is minimal, almost an afterthought. But the campaign sparked a ton of conversation that’s still continuing today, nearly two years after the ad was released — an example of worthy content that uses a brand idea to start a genuine dialogue.
What’s the most memorable example you’ve seen from a marketing (or other) event?