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Despite not being a new approach, there are still some companies who canât tell the difference between content marketing and advertising, or who create limited, ad-hoc content with petty cash, hoping to turn their target audience into loyalists. But thatâs not going to work.
If youâre thinking about viral content, then yes, you might become a brand starÂ overnight. Youâd probably remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which became a viral success in 2014 and helped advance research for the disease with its US$220 million raised.
However, viral content is not content marketing, and just creating content to âgo viralâ is definitely not a sound content strategy.Â Content marketing is not necessarily about immediate sales, but building lasting relationships with customers using valuable content, said marketers from Marriott and Audi atÂ Marketingâs Content 360 conference.
If you want customers to commit to you, then you first need to show your commitment to them by creating content that will deliver long-term benefits.
Itâs about your audience
A common refrain among marketers is: âI donât know what kind of content will make our audience love us.â The problem with this statement is that itâs not about you, but what your audience cares about.
Hereâs where a solid content strategy can come to your rescue. Through research and analysis, it is possible to discover what kind of stories appeal to your audience, and where and how they consume such content.
Where do I get my content from?
It is understandable that many companies, especially SMEs who donât have big bucks to spend, hesitate to create original content from scratch. However, brands might not realise they already have a lot of usable content sitting in their backyard.
Materials such as white papers, employee manuals and marketing brochures are not usually top of your mind because they are boring. But visualising some of these key statistics or nuggets of information through the use of vivid colours, cute icons and interactive designs can actually make a difference. (Here are some tips on making infographics shine.)
Canât be bothered to dig into your dusty archive? Then start with content curation. This is exactly what one of our insurance clients decided to do when they developed their content hub. Instead of talking about insurance, they shared stories that focused on what families, young couples and professionals were concerned about, e.g family planning, childrenâs education, career advice and healthy lifestyles.
How often should I post?
Whichever you choose, just remember that this should not be a one-off project. As you monitor the changing behaviour of your customers, aim to create original content that becomes more targeted as you go along to maintain a long-lasting relationship.
A few blog articles or a short film cannot buy you loyalty. It takes continuous investment to keep the commitment alive, just like in a love relationship. As good content will always make people come back for more, this means youâll need to create different types of content at every stage of the customer journey, gradually and strategically.
Just as the old Chinese saying “to catch a big fish, one must cast a long line” suggests, great results can only come if you have a long-term plan, so make sure youâre ready to commit before following what the crowd is doing. And if youâre thinking about getting immediate returns from content marketing, think again.
The writer isÂ Sophie Chen, senior content editor at King Content.