First off, content marketing, branded content, brand newsrooms - whatever term you're comfortable with - is definitely something you should be investing in this year.
Content is a brand's currency. It's what we give in exchange for loyalty, social engagement and dollars spent. It's how we build relationships with our customers. It's how we communicate and win attention in the endless ocean of the Internet.
Content is more than just articles or web copy. It's everything from tweets to apps to magazines. It's any medium of information, entertainment or subject matter expertise between brands and their customers.
So who's doing Content Marketing well? Lot's of brands.
Take Dove's Real Beauty Sketches. You know, that time a soap brand launched a video that made women around the world cry as they realized “We're more beautiful than we think!" Dove gets it. They launched a video, it went viral, and is now the most-viewed brand video of all-time.
Dove wanted to connect with their audience in a real and personal way. They wanted to tell their audience "We understand your struggles with beauty, we care, we want to show you how beautiful you really are". And what does Dove get in return? (Besides over 3 million video views and user-generated video responses on YouTube.) The women their products serve now know that Dove cares about their struggles with beauty. They trust the Dove brand.
Red Bull is another brand I've been particularly interested in because they offer a great “whole package" approach to content marketing. Their YouTube channel has launched over 100 videos that have amassed at least one million views, they've launched a popular magazine with 5 million subscribers, a record label and 2 film studios underneath Red Bull Media House.
Let's take a look at what Red Bull's approach to content marketing can tell us:
Take Credit for Your Content
Just take a minute to think about what Red Bull has done. Do you remember the original “Red Bull Gives You Wings" ads and commercials? And now, they have a “multi-platform media company with a focus on sports, culture, and lifestyle" with a “mission to fascinate" that strives to create and distribute top-quality media assets that leverage not only their own media brands, but also those of their third-party media partners.
What's the number one takeaway from Red Bull's approach to content marketing?
They take all the credit they can get from the content they produce.
They have a focus - to fascinate. So they did what no else has done before. They organized and hosted a free-fall from 128,100 feet above the earth's surface.
Red Bull, the energy drink, did that. Red Bull let a man jump from space to the earth, and everyone joined in to watch.
What good is your content if no one knows you did it? How can your customers connect with your brand if they don't know you're behind the things they love?
Be bold. Be smart. Launch branded content.
Give Them What They Want
Red Bull doesn't sponsor events, they create, organize and support new, innovative, brand-building events. They are literally giving their audience what they want - sports coverage, events coverage and unique content.
A breakdancing championship. Yah, they did that.
Want to Connect with the Pros. Sure, they gave us that.
A movie on extreme skiing. That's coming this Fall.
Red Bull doesn't try to force its product. Instead, they've aligned their brand with extreme sports and action, and produced content so engaging and never before seen that it must be seen, explored, shared and freaked out about.
Don't push your products and you'll sell your products - this is a scary transition for brands and agencies. But content marketing goes a little deeper.
It's been said a million times: Today's consumer is more educated than ever. They won't be fooled by marketing jargon and salesy tactics. They can research and compare products. They can find out that at the core, most products are essentially the same, unless you, the brand, show them how you're different and why they should care.
The idea central to content marketing is that brands must give something valuable to get something valuable in return. Instead of the commercial, be the show. Instead of the banner ad, be the feature story. The value returned is often that people associate good things with - and return to engage with - the brand. - James O'Brien, Contently
Be liked and respected for the contribution you're making to the world.
If you don't care about anything but selling, you've missed it. Consumers want more out of their brands, so find out how to give them what they want.
Invest in Your Content
There's no way around it. Investing in your content marketing strategy is a must. Red Bull's print magazine, The Red Bulletin, definitely costs money to produce. Red Bull's feature film The Art of Flight, cost a reported $2 million to make. Plus, they've got a team of 135 people running their Red Bull Media House.
You don't have to start out in a full sprint, but the thing to note from Red Bull's success is that they seek for high quality in subject matter, innovation and execution, and they put in the time, money and resources required. Red Bull has invested in their content from the inside out. They have made content marketing the main avenue for connection and communication with their brand.
Your initial investment may just be time. The time it takes to really understand where you want to go as a brand and what you want to say. The "thinking time" required to better understand content marketing and how it could be adopted by your brand. The time it takes to create good content.
Resources don't have to be just new hires. You can also look out for other brands to partner with in your content efforts if hiring content writers and journalists isn't something you can tackle at the moment.
Content marketing is quite often a long game. You can't launch one effort and expect immediate results. You can't do a little bit here and a little bit there and expect results either. It takes a time investment, a resource investment and a financial investment.
But it's worth it. This is the new marketing game. As the landscape changes, be educated and be prepared to adapt. Invest in the change.