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Do we need content marketing anymore?

Tom Lenham, Head of Content Marketing at The Maverick Group on why a successful content marketing strategy is about creating content for your customer, not your brand.

Tom Lenham, The Maverick Group

Head of Content Marketing

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With a forest of content competing for attention in the marketing landscape, you may well be thinking; ‘do we even need content for our brand?  What’s it actually going to do for us?”

To answer this question, let’s first agree on what content marketing is. On a practical level, it could be described as one of the processes and means by which we find potential customers, build a relationship with them and communicate why a product or service will help them.

That relationship is more important now than ever. Why? GDPR, CPRA, Apple’s ATT and the impending demise of 3rd party cookies.

The seismic shift in privacy protection has been a long time coming – and not a moment too soon.  For the marketing industry it’s a necessary change, but it brings an avalanche of challenges. If you’re starting to see big drop-offs in your analytics, it’s because of these changes – they’re huge: Apple’s introduction of App Tracking Transparency (ATT) alone brought tracking of its users down to just 12% globally, and a shocking 4% in the USA.  Understanding customer behaviour just got a whole lot harder – which is why good content marketing (with the emphasis on good) is the answer to building and maintaining a customer relationship.

Does content marketing work?

Content marketing is still a proven technique – typically, content marketing delivers three times as many leads as traditional marketing for 62% less spend1. Meanwhile, 82% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content. At The Maverick Group, the content marketing platform we designed and built for DHL Express, Discover DHL, is the most successful lead generation campaign in the history of the company.

So, content marketing still works and is only going to become more important.  The next question you’ll be asking yourself is ‘does my company even have a story to tell?’ The answer, no matter what your brand, product or sector, is always, absolutely, definitely and without fail, ‘yes’. 

The challenge is in telling that story effectively, to the right people.

We can tell that story in many ways, using many different tools. The content marketing unit at The Maverick Group is involved in strategy, advertising, site design and development, UX, SEO, social media, design & copy, film production, media, sales, internal training and analytics – it can cover pretty much the whole breadth of marketing as a function.

The medium is not the message, though. The message is the important part of the equation and should be all about reflecting the brand values you want to portray; aligning with your customer’s shared values. A focus which is not just about focusing on the obvious things like fairness, sustainability and equality, but more importantly about meeting demands effectively, providing service quality and delivering value for money.

So, think about the story your brand can tell – it could be related to a product (like Dollar Shave Club or Hello Fresh), it could be about your market (like Shopify or American Express). Or  it could be about the values you want to uphold (like Gloop or the Body Shop), or a story about the brand’s history.

But, to really score big with content marketing, you need to put the needs of the customer above the needs of the brand. When you do that, you create an understanding of what makes your customer tick and a sympathetic approach to their needs.

Tom Lenham, Head of Content Marketing at The Maverick Group

Give a little to get a little

A successful content marketing strategy is about creating content for your customer, not your brand. It’s always a sticking point. You want to shout about your product or service. That’s OK. That’s what advertising is for and you should do that, too.

But, to really score big with content marketing, you need to put the needs of the customer above the needs of the brand. When you do that, you create an understanding of what makes your customer tick and a sympathetic approach to their needs. When you create content with that as your guiding principle, a natural and authentic conversation begins.

Your goal is to create a series of value exchanges – we give you something (an e-book) and you give us something in return (your email address and permission to add you to our mailing list). You’re creating a natural marketing funnel. After that, sales messages can be introduced – and your customers will listen to those messages precisely because you listened to their needs. It’s a reciprocal agreement based on the trust you have established by not trying to sell to them at the first meeting.

If there’s one thing to remember when it comes to content marketing, it’s this: the content you provide has to be authentic, of genuine interest, and illustrate your authority as a leader in your field. Get those three vital elements right and engagement, trust and (eventually) conversion will follow. Privacy is going to remain a challenge that the industry will need to adapt to in the coming years – but content marketing remains one of the most powerful ways to connect and understand your customer.

Guest Author

Tom Lenham, The Maverick Group

Head of Content Marketing,

About

From West End theatre through broadcast television, and on to advertising and marketing, Tom Lenham has been telling stories for the last 30 years. Some of those stories have been cinematic, some theatrical, one or two musical, many visual, others literary and, for the last 10 years, all of them digital. Some have even won awards. He has led and delivered advertising campaigns, branded television and content marketing for DHL, Thomas Cook, Visit London, Sony, Samsung, PepsiCo and a host of other brands. He is now Head of Content Marketing at The Maverick Group.

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