Are you scared of content marketing?

While talk has been of moving to content marketing, it’s clear that many brands are having challenges in finding how to make it work for their brands.

A recent global study by Nielsen, Trust in Advertising, found that Singaporeans were one of the most cynical consumers when it comes to advertising on owned platforms such as brand websites or channels. Less than 69% of Singaporeans believed that brand websites are credible, which was the global average, according to the study. (For the full study, click here.)

A survey conducted by Outbrain also showed that while over 90% of marketers indicate that they will do more content marketing in the next 12 months, most are still taking baby steps.

However, there are brands that are making the leap into the space, and seeing results as well.

One example is insurance company Great Eastern. Last year it topped the Corporate Reputation Survey by Reputation Management Associates and was top insurer in the health and life insurance categories in the Customer Satisfaction Index Singapore 2012, done by the Institute of Service Excellence and Singapore Management University. And a big contributing factor to the success is its leap into content marketing, Christopher Wei, group CEO of Great Eastern, told Marketing, in an earlier interview.

So how did Great Eastern make insurance sexy enough to be the topic of conversation? Wei said the company was fast to realize that if information becomes too technical or medical consumers do not wish to digest it. It made its information as relatable as possible. For example, on its own app, rather then sell insurance, the brand went ahead to give tips on healthy living, inspirational messages and address concerns of their consumers.

But sustaining an actual conversation is not easy, especially with consumers who are quick to catch gimmicks brewed up by marketers.

According to Anthony Hearne, regional director, Southeast Asia & India, Outbrain, most marketers are simply too fearful of taking that step into content marketing.

What’s holding marketers back?

Peter Bakar, commercial director Asia, King Content said that while most marketers want and often say they have a content marketing strategy in place, this is not really the case. Often marketers are unsure of where and how to start, he said.

A constraint in budget or budget allocation for content marketing is a big area of struggle for many marketers. Because content marketing is a hybrid of editorial and marketing, marketers are unsure where the budget should come from.

“Marketers often question if this is part of advertising or PR,” he added.

Bakar advises that, depending on the industry, B2C marketers should spare 5% to 10% of their marketing spend for this medium while B2B marketers can go up to 20%.

Marketers are also impatient to see results. “It is important to note that content marketing is more drawn out and amplification occurs over time. Brands often struggle with a lack of direction and expect immediate results,” Bakar added.

While content marketing is easy to try, to see its full value for a brand takes commitment, said Hearne. “Results will not come immediately. Content marketing is a long drawn out strategy,” he said.

Time to unlearn old marketing disciplines

“The most common mistake made by brands is that they tend to be too brand overt”, Damien Bray, global development director of Brand New Media said.

Another brand that is a great case study for content marketing is Intel. Jayant Murty, Intel’s director of brand strategy and integrated marketing for the Asia Pacific told Marketing that when doing content marketing, what is critical to remember is that consumers are more interested in brands than advertising and more interested in their own lives than in the brands.

This can be a challenge for marketers who may be used to creating more traditional forms of advertising such as TV ads. “Marketers have to resist the urge to turn content into sales pitches, a habit learnt from years of creating TV commercials,” Murty said.

The key challenges to playing in this space is that brands need to see it as a two way street and not one way as they did with TV.  Brands and marketers also have to realise that content marketing is an interactive approach, not simply directive; hence marketers need to have the infrastructure to respond consistently for a period of time.

“Marketers also need to think of the entire process as story telling and not messages being sent across,” Murty added.

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