Content Marketing Institute (CMI) held their Content Marketing Master Class conference at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco on December 4. Prestige’s resident Content Specialist, Echo Quan, was in attendance to hear speaker and Chief Strategy Officer Robert Rose talk about Content Marketing in the context of the evolution of marketing.
1) Value over Information A great question that Rose presented was about the value we offer, and the value our customers are looking for. When we look at our homepage content, is what we see informational content or content of value to the customer? Since our site’s homepage is often the target audience’s first interaction with our company, or is their first online reference to us, that we should use it to show that we are of value of them. It is your first and possibly only chance to deliver an excellent experience. You could have featured webinars, videos or educational content. Rather, company homepages often center on information about who, what and why about ourselves rather than the customer, leaving it up to the visitor to draw their own connections. Focus your content to send a message: target upper management, present thought leadership, and remember: “Differentiate means telling a different story, not the same one incrementally better.”
2) Your Real Competition Rose suggests that our real competition is not our direct competition. In fact, he claims that our target audience doesn’t even see our direct competitors as our competition. If what we are competing for is our existing and future customer’s attention, then Rose is arguing that the context of attention isn’t just confined to marketing needs. Whatever people are giving their time and energy to is your competition. Even deeper, what people care about is your competition. Sure, when it comes down to choosing marketing services, of course your customer has to pick between you and other marketing firms. But contemporary consumers have different standards of loyalty and relationship. If you are only a product or service, that in itself is not a hold on your customers because what they care about is not a product or service. The underlying motivation is that they care about the success of their role or company. For example, if your ideal customer is management of medium or larger sized firms, they are looking to get ahead of the competition and CIOs are en route to a career as a CFO. To give specific value, you could create content like an e-book or webinar series such as “The New Voice of the CIO.” This is content that makes you valuable to your target audience and sets you apart.
3.) The Preacher, the Professor, the Poet Hearing about these three levels of content marketing was a great way to understand one’s present point-of-view, as well as how to cast vision for the future.
The Preacher is the B2B firm whose goal is to “do some content” to be present and in the game. The approach would be to create catchy content such as FAQ blog articles, list-style articles featured on the homepage, making sure to post daily on Twitter and other social accounts.This will definitely bring improvement, and there should be increased site traffic, blog traffic, SEO results, and more Social Media engagement.
The Professor is the company that knows they can produce content, but is thinking about how to create content that sets them apart. The Professor isn’t looking for crowds but for an attentive audience, and questions whether more traffic is doing anything if it isn’t generating strong leads. Yes, the SEO results are climbing…but so what? This type of company prioritizes standout “tentpole” content (over daily content) that can be featured and re-used, finding that this actually increases sales. At this level, content is built on research studies and collected quarterly and annual client data. The result is that customers recognize this company to be an industry leader and influencer.
The Poet is the company, like Coca Cola or Lego, that creates its own demand and is able to make its brand story synonymous with a larger desire (happiness, fun, etc) that customers choose to buy into. Essentially, the Poet has created a content story that customers want to experience and be a part of. The mindset of the Poet is to “delight our customers with content.” Rose shared an example of this: a financial strategy firm started a book club where 300 client subscribers receive a monthly package with a book and two articles. While a book club has no obvious connection to a financial firm, continuing clients listed it as one of their top 5 reasons for renewal. It created an experience and a statement to customers that this company is an experience of becoming a better, more well-rounded person, together. That is the story that customers were passionate to be in. This same company started an annual conference where the attendees are intentionally limited to 150, and there is always a full waiting list for the next event. The Poet marketer creates its own message, story, experience, and world, and customers buy in with a level of loyalty that is deeper than what the Preacher and Professor is able to create. It was invigorating to see marketers from all over North America come to connect, learn, and ask questions about how to create relevant stories and valuable content. Rose and the other Content Marketing leaders fostered an approach of marketing that champions authentic value, strategic innovation, and creating content that doesn’t chase business, but draws it in. We highly recommend the Content Marketing Institute events!