In troubling economic times, instead of making themselves look good, businesses have to make themselves look useful. Jon Mowat, Managing Director at Hurricane Media, offers tips on getting the most out of content marketing as we look forward to 2017.
These are the times that try men’s souls, not to mention marketers’. Markets are unstable, economies are volatile, and it’s more or less universally agreed that the up-and-coming generation are less well off than their parents were at the same age. When money is tight, buying things is less attractive, and sales messaging is resented rather than embraced. People don’t buy things for the sake of buying them; they buy things when it can’t be avoided.
In conditions like these, marketing messages have to change tack. Talking up the offering, product and company in an effort to claim the high ground of desirable status isn’t going to impress the consumer. Instead of making themselves look good, businesses have to make themselves look useful. They have to show their value to the consumer, by showing how their offering is a must-buy. Good content marketing directly addresses the consumer’s ‘pain points’ – the problems, real or perceived, to which consumers are looking for a solution.
Content marketing done right
Calor Gas’ how-to video is an example of content marketing done right. It answers a specific question – a specific search term which might lead potential consumers to the content. It’s succinct, it’s helpful, and it remains neutral right up until the end. It’s not full of Calor product placement, it doesn’t start with “here at Calor” in an attempt to big up the company. The ‘advertising’ component is limited to a modest clickable brand icon which appears at the beginning and end of the video, in the bottom right where the eye will naturally land on it after taking in the rest of the content.
Rand Fishkin’s video here proves that the same approach works for B2B marketing. Once again, the offering is aimed squarely toward a pain point, and titled in a way that answers a question and a search term – we know that our content has to provide value, but how do we actually do it? While Fishkin’s personal brand is more apparent – he refers to his prior content – he’s still making himself useful, not selling a service. The goal is to present him as a thought leader – an expert marketer who offers salient advice. That makes him memorable, and that draws business his way.
Content marketing done wrong
Good content is succinct, useful and evergreen – it stays relevant in the long term, drawing attention long after publication. Bad content is rambling and irrelevant. The worst content of all, though, is the content that’s generic, vague, and only put out “because it’s content day.”
If you’re in the habit of sending out a newsletter every Friday, you’d better make sure you have three useful things to say every Friday. If you have a blog, one good post a fortnight is better than a vacuous blow-by-blow account of your everyday.
The important thing here is strategy. Before starting a marketing campaign, do the legwork: understand your client or customer base, know their pain points and their search preferences. Prepare content in advance of the launch, so that you’re never left running to keep up.
Multimedia is key
We’re video marketers. That doesn’t mean we only make videos. We recognise that written content does things that a video can’t. For linking out, citing sources and showing research, you can’t beat the written word: that’s why we explain what we do in blog posts.
Articles like how to use video on social media allow us to fluidly discuss our perspective on things relevant to our audience, because links and examples can be embedded directly into the content rather than intruding on it.
We try to ensure that our content is a useful resource, something that people will engage with and learn from, rather than forcing sales messaging upon them. Traditional ‘buy this now’ advertising is dead in the water and, much like the successful Calor and Moz campaigns mentioned above, ‘show and tell’ is fast becoming the best way to sell, earning respect and helping people connect.
By Jon Mowat