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Just when you think you’ve gotten to grips with every new phrase or buzzword in the world of digital marketing, another comes along to make you go “uhhhhhh...?”
During my first year at Econsultancy I’ve been making a point of writing beginner’s guides to any new terms or phrases I find particularly baffling, or that I might suspect other people may find baffling too.
Today I’ll be looking at experiential marketing. A phrase I have repeatedly spell-checked more than any other. But first, some clarification is needed…
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, right? But in the world of content, there is.
In this world, gone is the thinking from consumers that if something is free, it’s not going to be worth the paper it’s written on.
In the UK, British Airways, M&S and Sports Direct are some of the brands that are surprising and delighting consumers by using good content to tap into their love of TV, fashion and adventure.
Sage has been quietly improving its content and SEO for a while now and its website gives a good indication of how the industry of accounting software has changed online.
Here's a roundup of what Sage's website does right when it comes to content. If you're a B2B company, it's all the inspiration you need to get on your own content marketing trip.
The days are long gone when companies can shy away from educating the market. It's all about search, transparency and added value.
A few months ago I created the Periodic Table of Content Marketing, to provide a handy – and hopefully helpful - cut-out-and-keep guide for content professionals.
The table was both practical and tactical, which resulted in more than tens of thousands of shares, and hundreds of thousands of views. I remain humbled by its popularity, and the feedback I’ve had since I published it.
Since then I’ve been asked many questions, of which two stand out:
- Why does ‘content strategy’ only have one element dedicated to it?
- What kind of skills does a content team need?
To answer the first question, it’s simply that content strategy is such a big subject that it merits a table of its own, or something similar. There is much to be said about audiences, legacy content, global vs local approaches to management, team workflow, brand guidelines, and countless other important things. Watch this space.
The second question is one close to my heart.
Since 2006 I’ve had the pleasure of assembling a marvellous team here at Econsultancy. We box well above our weight – there are only six of us on ‘Team Content’ yet we’re averaging more than a million stories read a month. Not bad, for a niche blog.
But what would a content team look like if I were to assemble one from scratch today? What skills are required in 2014, in the post-social, content marketing, mobile age? What is the perfect recipe for success?
Despite creating fantastic products and winning several Red Dot design awards in the process, BOSE isn’t often seen as a cool company.
Rarely are its designs mentioned in the same breath as Apple, or its headphones alongside young upstarts like beats.
Despite this slight lack of street cred, Bose remains one of the strongest brands in audio, so I thought I’d check out its content to see how it fares against the competition...
Monsoon has launched Swoon, a shoppable monthly magazine for tablets (but also working well on desktop). It's full of products and rich content and was built by Rockabox Studios on the Ceros design platform.
With the prices of Monsoon apparel comparable with Cos – middle to upper high street pricing - and the more artisan pieces pricier still, at more than £300, this feels like a good move.
The image of Monsoon has perhaps slipped in recent years and lost some of its chic or urbanity. I can see this campaign of shoppable magazines as a step towards bringing this firmly back to the brand, which needs to highlight the quality of its clothing, including its hand-embellished pieces.
The launch of a shoppable magazine is in line with many other brands seeking to bring more editorial and clustering to their offerings. Net-A-Porter has launched a mag, M&S has mixed up its website with plenty of content and trailblazers ASOS and TopShop have been doing this for a while.
Let’s take a more detailed look at Swoon.
Farming machinery isn’t necessarily the coolest product on the planet, so it’s good to see a B2B like Massey Ferguson doing interesting things with content, especially when compared to rivals like John Deere, which arguably has wider recognition.
I’ve been taking a look at the tractor company’s website and social feeds to get a feel for how it uses content to engage with a particularly niche market.
Incidentally, you wouldn’t believe how hard I’ve struggled to avoid using the phrase ‘content farm' in this article...
And for more on this topic, download Econsultancy's B2B Content Marketing Trends Briefing 2014.
In early 2011 I put together a simple video for a friend's band for a song they made referencing a certain (lonely) dictator.
It was uploaded to YouTube and had been seen by a handful of people; however on December 17 that year the viewing figures suddenly skyrocketed.
The despot in question had died, and I was the unexpected beneficiary of some web traffic.
Something I had long forgotten about was suddenly being watched by thousands of people!
The top 10 list of storytelling brands in the UK usually includes Apple, Cadbury, IKEA and Walkers.
But looking at the annual list from AESOP, it's Virgin Media that jumps out at me as a storytelling brand that breaks the mould.
Here I round up some of its activity that falls into my nebulous understanding of storytelling.
Let me know if you agree.
Five years ago if you were a brand and you wanted to make a video, you went to a video agency, begged them to make it more viral than h5n1 and paid through the nose for the privilege.
If you wanted an infographic you went to a design agency, if you wanted to write editorial you went to a PR agency etc…
Your content creation was almost completely outsourced and, unless you had a reasonably serious budget, a great content marketing campaign was probably beyond you.
That couldn’t be further from the truth today, brands have a wealth of tools that allow them to create highly professional content without the traditional agency brief.
The following are just five examples of the kinds of companies that are driving this change.
Shipping and engineering are inherently cool.
I thought I'd take a quick scoot through the websites of General Electric, Siemens and Maersk and check out what sorts of content they provide to market.
It's by no means an exhaustive journey, but hopefully it will give you some links to check out and some inspiration for your own B2B content.
These behemoth sized B2B companies, in the case of Maersk, make great use of their heritage. For GE and Siemens, the task is more about appearing imaginative and innovative and almost appearing as synecdoche or at least flag bearer for particular industries, i.e. an indisputable authority.
Let's take a look.
Forget the hard sell and the dry press release. Audiences have wised up, so give them high-quality content that they can really engage with.
For anyone who’s experienced the following phrase bellowed at them across the boardroom by a senior executive “we should get into content marketing, everyone’s doing it, Coca-Cola’s doing it, BMW is doing it, Red Bull is doing it, we should be doing it too” then this is for you...
Content marketing is everyone’s favourite hot new digital marketing phrase right now, yet the truth is that while the label has grown in popularity, the notion that content marketing is anything new isn’t quite correct.
What the imaginary senior executive above doesn’t realise is that his company has actually been making content for years. It just hasn’t been called as such until recently.
The company has been creating blog posts, surveys, whitepapers and reports for the entire length of its existence. In many cases, it understands the power of content and how it can keep its existing audience happy and engaged.
However the new era of content marketing brings with it more of a tactical focus: in seeking to help audience growth, generate new leads, spread brand awareness and improve brand perception on a much larger scale.
In line with this, content marketing roles are being created and teams are being restructured across an incredibly diverse range of industries. Content marketing has become an umbrella term, one that bonds together five different disciplines – editorial, marketing, PR, SEO and social media – in order to focus on one long-term marketing strategy.