Customers are the heroes of your story, not your brand (Content 360: Part 1)

Content marketing has become a staple in the marketing diet, but seems to be awash with jargon and misconceptions. Some of the best minds, savviest brands and top marketing experts came together at Marketing's Content 360 conference to challenge these conceptions, and take a good hard look at what good content is, and how it should be used in marketing. See here part 1 of our two-part post-event coverage.

“Content marketing is not new,” said Eric Leong, vice-president of brand marketing and communications at Dream Cruises, at the head start of this year’s Content 360 Conference Hong Kong. “It is as old as advertising itself.”

As Leong further explained, brands have been studying the art of storytelling ever since the advertising era began. In this sense, content marketing is a return to the basic emphasis on storytelling; it arises from the need to engage consumers with the brand’s own voice.

“It is not a strategy, programme, execution, et cetera,” he said. "Content marketing is a mindset."

In a world filled with distractions, basic 'golden' rules that have applied to storytelling since the beginning of time need to be reapplied to the content we create, Leong explained.

To test your relevance, he advised, is to look at the content and ask,

Is it interesting, beautiful or funny?

What interests people is what counts - so listen to them

While telecom might not be the most fascinating topic to non-techies, HKT's strategy is to stay connected with its end-users by highlighting its relevance to various aspects of daily life.

One of their ways to accomplish this, HKT’s strategic partnership and business development vice-president, Michelle Chan said, is to partner with exciting events. A recent event it participated in was the FIA Formula E Championship in Hong Kong in October 2016, for which the telecommunications company was named title sponsor.

“We can showcase the beauty and relevance of telecommunication by letting people know that HKT is providing an advanced telecommunications network, technology and services during this exciting event,” said Chan.

Jetour takes a slightly different approach, its marketing director Jenny Leung explained. The travel agency focuses on the solution of several travelling pain-points, one of which is the travelers’ increasing desire to take professional picture on their journeys.

“We get an understanding of their pain points through our front-line staff, who speak directly to our customers,” Leung said. “We invite professional photographers to give classes, for example.”

Similarly, Michael McComb, brand director of brand and corporate affairs at Prudential Corporation Asia, found the company’s front-line sales agents to be its greatest social-listening asset in recognising the consumers’ pain points.

“Sales agents are the ones who communicate with the customers, many even have personal connections with the customers,” McComb explained. “They are important channels to collect customer needs as well as sharing our content.”

But if you are still unable to identify the points to be highlighted in your content, there is one question you could ask to your brand, suggested Tin-tin Siapno, head of marketing communications at Nestle Hong Kong:

“Imagine the world without your brand. Will the world still exist, and can your consumers survive without it?”

The tactic is to always give your brand a purpose through your content. In Nestle’s case, said Siapno, consumers are always looking for new ways to consume its product.

“What they really want from me is recipes, and we spoon feed our consumers recipes at every touch point. It may be the QR code they see on our packages, at the supermarket, or on the digital media popping up when they go home.”

In an example of beautiful content, Pandora Asia took an emotional approach to mother’s day, to give screen-time to the touching relationship between mother and child.

In the advertisement, children were blindfolded and asked to identify their own mothers from a line of women by touch alone, to convey the message that each woman is special in their own way. Each child successfully recognised their own mother without taking the blindfold off.

Isabella Mann, vice-president of marketing at Pandora Asia, said jewelry wasn’t attempting to play the hero in the advert, but instead the spotlight was on the customers’ own bond with their mothers or children. “Let the customers be the hero, and get them to create and share content for you.”

One thing to add in the content -besides being interesting, beautiful, or hilarious- Nestle's Siapno reminded the audience, is a call to action at the end.

“Now that they are engaged, what are they supposed to do with the content? As simple as ‘Like, share and purchase’, the word has its power,” she said.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2.