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Sebastien Caudron, President, mContent APAC
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Post-event round-up: 4th Content 360 in Manila explores new horizons in content marketing

With content continuously building up on the net to the point of saturation, how can marketers make their brand stand out? What are the industry’s next phases and forms that they should master if they are to keep up with its lightning pace?

These were the groundbreaking topics discussed at Content 360 held last April 26 at the Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City. Produced by Marketing Magazine and Learning Curve, innovation and unexplored frontiers were the themes that underscored the event. This is the event’s fourth consecutive year in the Philippines.

More than 200 digital marketers and marketing professionals packed the ballroom to listen to industry leaders and known stalwarts in the industry open in-depth the various areas and expertise that they should immerse themselves in, in order to remain competitive.

The first keynote speaker, Dr. Donald Patrick Lim, Country CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines, redefined content marketing itself in his topic, “Building Brands and Businesses Through Engaging Content.”  He emphasized that marketers should be more holistic in their thinking and go beyond planning individual campaigns that confine themselves to platforms like video or social media.

He pointed out that today’s content is “the totality of the experience, and marketing has to be critical across the entire customer journey. Organizations have to change from silos to collaboration and integration. Marketing should look at the entire customer journey.”

Donald Patrick Lim

The second keynote speaker, Chay Mondejar-Saputil, client partner of Facebook Philippines, gave a greater dimension to content marketing in her talk, “People First:  Building Ideas that Thrive in a Connected World.” As social media has demonstrated, it is community-building that creates the avalanche of brand loyalty that in turn results in profitable e-commerce. She outlined the digital process that has made certain brands succeed while others have failed. She said, “Curation happens when people are now more empowered to choose what they want to see. Community is the power to bring the world closer together. Conversation is critical because people expect to be connected with the brands that they are connected with. All these build up to Commerce.”

The customer journey

Next, Aleine Lagasca, the marketing head of JLL Philippines, said that the “The Future of Content Marketing” lay in brands, especially those from brick-and-mortar legacy companies, embracing technology, instead of fearing it. She first cited statistics showing that 49% of current tasks can be automated using present-day tech, which will then grow to 88% in the future. Her advice regarding this inevitable evolution: “We need to have a digital mindset. Embrace tech and learn it by doing. If you will fail, fail fast and fail often. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know,’ but follow it up with ‘I will find out.’”

The next speaker, Sebastien Caudron, president of mContent APAC, followed up that exhortation with his own elaboration on “The Synergy Between Data and Content.” He said that marketing professionals should regard distribution as integral to content creation. Distribution in its many platforms can harvest a lot of data that marketers can use to understand their publics and refine their campaigns. He said, “Content has value more once it is distributed. It is important to note that the data processing funnel has four blocks. First there is data. Then there is audience data. The third is profile data which refers to who created the data. Finally, there is the brand data which covers marketing objective, brand positioning, and the digital persona of your brand.”

The lunch break following Mr. Caudron’s talk also became a time of networking for the participants to discuss the learnings in the presentations, and form partnerships and friendships that can help them in the future. Four more speakers presented after the lunch break.

Manny Gonzales, Strategy Director of Ogilvy Philippines, highlighted one important element in his talk on “Content Marketing and the Customer Journey.” The customer himself must become an active, enthusiastic part of this marketing voyage, and not a mere bystander. The conversations that follow will then make the marketing manager more equipped and informed as he builds on his campaign. He said, “Content can make people part of an experience. It can be experiential, not just visual or auditory. Create content experience, not just content buckets or content silos. Once the customer is engaged, content can become a strong business tool.”

Manny Gonzales

This point was reflected in the non-stop explosion of social media, as illustrated by the following speaker, Roland Ros, the CEO of Kumu, in his talk “Brand Collaboration and Collaborative Content.” He said that one reason that their livestream social media is a huge hit with Millennials and Gen-Z’ers is because of the authenticity of the content and the conversation that leaps from it. He described why this is one possible future of social media: “What drives home the engagement is everyday youth elevating brands with authenticity and engagement. You can’t fake livestream. The content creators are being real, and their viewers are engaging in a very transparent way. The viewer backs up his support of content with money.”

Ros’ prediction of the next phase of social media: “The social TV network will have content talking back to you.”

Roland Ros

Storytelling, not selling

The next speaker, Via Villafuerte, the managing director of Oddefy Philippines, likewise said that trust and transparency are key for content to reach out to the younger demographics. During her talk on “Disruptive Content: What It Takes to Create Thumb-Stopping Material,” she named both elements as non-negotiable in order for a brand to win that audience. She said, “Gen Z trust brand more than politicians. They trust those who are more authentic. They trust brands that reflect their values. They celebrate radical transparency – and they demand real representation.”

The next speaker, Christian Domingo, the e-commerce manager of Abbott Philippines, gave tips on how content marketers can make authenticity powerful in their campaigns. It can start with the following questions: “Is the message relevant to your consumer? What is your end goal with your content marketing strategies:  awareness, education, buzz impact? Can you track the effectiveness of your content marketing?”

Ultimately, the success of a campaign or the promotion of a brand can be traced to one principle: “Don’t sell a product. Sell a story, and the product will itself.”

The afternoon break was a welcome respite for the participants to share notes and absorb all the information given before the remaining four speakers could plunge into their respective topics.

In her topic “Content Marketing in an Age of Mobility and Transport,” Lalamove Philippines marketing manager Marla Buencamino, showed how content can make the so-called ‘serious’ brands more attractive and enhance its appeal. She said, “Humanize your brand and you will stand out among your competitors. Spell out the situation where your brand can be relevant and the customer will have an ‘aha!’ moment.”

Once that epiphany has set in, Buencamino advises using a more collaborative approach instead of restricting the campaign to one mode. “The different platforms can work hand-in-hand in an omni-channel.”

The business plan

Then, Chad Sotelo, the General Manager of Electrolux Philippines, dug deep into one of marketing’s toughest challenges which he summarized as follows: “How can content work hard for the business?”

In his topic, “Content to Commerce:  Demonstrating ROI,” Sotelo advises marketers to shift from focusing on the short-term hits and clicks to long-term engagement by becoming always relevant to the client. He gave them five principles to consider: “Number one, be clear on your objective. Next, fix a problem or address a need. Third, consistency pays off. Fourth, seek to engage your customers, and not just make them participate.” Finally, he warns them about being enamored of one popular trend: “There is no such thing as viral.”

Chad Sotelo

Carlo Ople, the vice president of digital strategy and consumer disruptive business for PLDT, tackled “The Video Revolution: The New Wave in Content Marketing.” He first laid out the history of the evolution of digital marketing in the country, and the many popular forms that rose and fell as one trend replaced another. After blogging and social media, video is the next disruptive kid on the block, and YouTube stands as the giant of the next wave.

Filipino marketers have an advantage today because not many of their colleagues are still maximizing their use of the platform. Still, Ople urges his colleagues to continually study the digital space, as opposed to believing that all a campaign needs is one viral video to succeed. He explained how non-stop learning is vital to making it big in the content marketing sphere: “The best thing about digital is that you will never master it. Those who put in the work to make a change in their careers and the businesses that they own will get ahead. That’s the most beautiful thing about digital and content marketing.”

Carlo Ople

The last speaker, Erwin Razon, director of business development and product strategy at Innity Philippines, gave an answer to achallenge common to Filipino marketers. His topic was about cultivating “Brand Loyalty in an Age of Disloyalty.” He recommended laying out the vital foundation first before trying to capture the consumer with the proverbial bells and whistles. He said, “Brand loyalty appeals to the senses and the human values of the consumer. In order to develop brand loyalty and obtain it, we have to ask ourselves as marketers: ‘What do we stand for?’”

At the end of the conference, the speakers and audiences alike enthused that the transformative landscape of content marketing remains an exciting, dynamic one that powerfully serves the needs of their brands and customers.