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Content360 convos: Tackling ad dollar wastage in content marketing

Content360 convos: Tackling ad dollar wastage in content marketing

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 If you work in advertising, you’ve heard the famous quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

In today’s world where budgets and purse strings are being tightened, marketers can no longer waste their marketing budgets. Yet, in the world of content, this often happens when clients commission work without truly understanding how it can go the distance for them.

So how exactly should we curb this waste? In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, media veteran Phin Wong, who currently heads content marketing and lifestyle media at SPH, debunks some of the myths around content marketing.

Wong first started his journey editorially, and now walks the fine line between content and commerce with Content Lab, SPH Media's content marketing unit. He shares that one mindset we need to shift is in regards to the idea of “newness”, and instead, make existing content go the distance. Marketers must embrace existing pieces of content to make it work harder and go further.

If you want to find out how you can make the most out of your content marketing spend, listen to our podcast here.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE:  They say 50% of your money is wasted in advertising, but you don’t know which half. Is that the same in content marketing? What does wastage mean in content marketing?

Wong: I think for me, the wastage is when people start creating content, or commissioning content, without actually knowing why they are doing it.

Many people are not spending enough time figuring out why they’re creating a certain type of content or what they want to achieve with that content. And to me, that is the beginning of wastage.

Budgets are not infinite and we all have a fixed budget to work with. But it’s not just wastage of actual money itself, but also a waste of man hours and good ideas. We’re wasting the blood, sweat and tears that goes into content creation, and good content creation takes work. It’s a lot of effort and time spent in creating the right content for the right audience on the right platform.

Wastage in content for me starts from the very beginning, when we’re not clear what the mission is.

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MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: Can you share some examples of how we can stop wasting money in content marketing?

Wong: It starts with this myth that content marketing is advertising, and advertising is content marketing. And that is wrong.

You cannot treat content marketing like you would any form of advertising because it’s kind of like saying bourbon is a whiskey, but whiskey is not a bourbon. Just like, a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. Yes, they’re related and they’re in the same category, but they’re not exactly the same thing.

Content marketing is different from you know, a handful of banner ads. Content marketing is different from a radio spot. Content marketing is different from a print ad campaign. It’s different from an IG carousel.

All these [forms of advertising] have a specific use, they’re all tools in your arsenal and you need to know what you’re doing in order to know what the right tool is to use. If you don’t know these things, how will you know what success looks like?

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE: As they say, once a journalist always a journalist. Can I find out how do you deal with bad content?

Wong: The truth is, I’m not sure if other people do this. But here at Content Lab, we understand that content marketing and content creation isn’t cheap.

Once in a while you hear people saying, “Why is it so expensive? You can just go take your phone and shoot something, right?”

But, it’s not about equipment. There’s the entire process to content creation, and you’re paying for good ideas, and you’re paying for strategy and you’re paying for someone to solve your problems for you. That is what content marketing is, that’s where your money is going. It is not going into the cost of a camera.

I tell my clients that the more money you pay us for a project, the more you can expect me to argue with you. It’s the responsible thing to do. It’s my responsibility, and my team’s responsibility to make sure that it works for you.

I do not hire people for content marketing, if they’ve never worked editorially before. To be a content creator, you need to know what works editorially. So, if we’re going down a path where it’s never going to work, it would be highly irresponsible for me to shut up and take your money, and just do it and watch it fail.

So, I do argue with clients, and I do push back. We do have these conversation with clients most of the time, and you’d be surprised that really most clients are reasonable.

Any content creator that takes money from a client needs to be responsible for what they’re taking the money for.

Content 360 is back on 10-11 May 2023 in Singapore. A hugely popular event over the years, Content 360 brings the most influential content creators to inspire you. Across two days, you can connect with 300+ brightest minds in the industry and learn how to overcome challenges to make your content stand out among the crowd. Tickets are on sale now, register today:

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