Business transformation, content marketing and strategy

How Content Marketing Drives Brand Engagement

The below is an extract from my new book, "The Future of Marketing"

“One must require more marketers to develop content capabilities so there’s a way to engage other than selling and pushing. Marketers must be looking to stay relevant when people aren’t in a place to buy.”

John Kennedy, Chief Marketing Officer, Xerox

“Content marketing” is an increasingly popular and important term in the world of marketing in 2016. Before going into detail on what is a broad and somewhat amorphous topic, it’s worth trying to define the term. Content marketing is simply about using engaging, relevant content to attract an audience.

It’s about finding valuable, shareable insights to engage – not sell to – an audience.

It’s a concession that customers have a choice and that you’ve got to offer more than a shiny sales message to get their buy-in. And it’s a critical pillar in a forward-looking marketing strategy based on authenticity, relevance, and transparency. Content marketing is remarkably powerful in a world in which customers are overwhelmed by sales messages, where social media has given relationship building the capacity to scale enormously, and where brands are starved of customer attention.

That’s why 64% of marketers say that content marketing is “definitely” important and “working really well” for them, with an additional 30% saying that’s “probably” the case, as you can see in Figure 9.1.

Given all that, it’s entirely unsurprising that a huge seventy-four percent of marketers will “definitely” do more content marketing over the next five years, and an additional 19% will “probably” do so, as you can see in Figure 9.2

The popularity of content as a marketing strategy is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of a broader shift in marketing to reflect customer power. Marketing is no longer about positioning your product and then pushing people down a funnel. It’s about attempting to engage a bored population that is skeptical of sales messages and almost omnipresent advertising.

In an age when customers hold the power, the marketer’s job is to position the brand as part of a conversation on increasingly powerful social networks. Content – stories, videos, audio, and more – is a powerful tool to do just that while also building a longer-lasting relationship at the same time. If we treat marketing over social media as similar to creating a good impression at a dinner party (for more on this, see Chapter 10 , “The Opportunity – and Imperative – of Conversation” in my new book on the future of marketing), then content is the stories you use to reel people in and entertain them around the canapés.

Fundamentally, content allows brands to be more worthy of a customer’s time than the competition. Of course, it’s rather difficult. As brands become authors and publishers, they effectively have to enter an entirely new industry. Consider the four key challenges in scaling a content strategy highlighted in Figure 9.3:

  1. Creating content of the requisite quality
  2. Ensuring produced content is relevant to your target audience
  3. Disseminating content in the right way
  4. Measuring the impact of content strategy

This article is an extract from my new book, “The Future of Marketing”, published by Pearson. You can purchase your copy at Amazon.

Nick Johnson