Clients need trusted partners to help navigate content marketing

Where's the value in content marketing? Sandra Peat, strategy director at One Two Four analyses the debate at the 2014 Content Marketing Association Summit.

Sandra Peat: strategy director at One Two Four
Sandra Peat: strategy director at One Two Four

It was a fascinating day at the CMA Summit. For me it really showed how the world of content is growing and developing at a rate of knots.

The constantly moving sands of media consumption make our sector one of the most dynamic industries in the world.

It's an incredibly exciting time for the Content Marketing industry, and with so many shifting parameters there's lots of opportunity to be innovative, create new ways to achieve success and set the agenda across the industry.

Yet there's an old struggle that continues to play out between clients and content marketers.

This is the disconnect between a client's desire for the storytelling that great content uses to connect with consumers, and content agencies' ability to demonstrate how their content helps a brand to reach its ultimate business objective.

In a world where measurement and evaluation isn't set in stone and is different for each content piece, let alone each project, clients naturally fall back on the safety of what they know, usually relying on the notion that what consumers need is more information about the brand, from the brand, with a direct awareness or sales objective attached, measured in a direct, linear way.

It makes it hard to prove the case for content, especially when you are measuring against a criteria that has no context within the business issue.

So what do brands do? As we saw at the CMA summit, the ever-changing digital landscape and resulting evolution in media habits mean that brands ignore this at their peril.

Both StyleHaul and Maker Studios brought home just how much decision-making and content viewership happens away from both traditional media channels and from brand-led content.

As James Stafford from StyleHaul pointed out, conversations about your industry are happening, they'll continue to happen and they can't be ignored.

Of the 14.9 billion conversations that happen in the beauty and fashion industry, only 3% are created by brands.

So how do brands play credibly in decision making through content? John Lombardo from LinkedIn provided an interesting perspective on the power of using content for thought leadership to illustrate expertise.

He said 74% of buyers choose the company that is first to add value as they are defining their buying vision (SAVI techniques of social selling - Just do it! 2014).

His point is that audiences don't buy your products and services, they buy into your perspective and approach to solving their problems or needs.

Content in all its guises has the potential to deliver thought leadership, setting up the brand as the expert in their category, sector or area, rather than just their specific brand or product.

It can take a leap of faith for marketers to spend their limited budgets on activity that doesn't speak directly to their product.

Especially if it's not clear how this thought leadership and expertise moves consumers to the profitable interaction that a brand needs them to have (and let's face it, that's why they are undertaking the project in the first place).

The challenge is to keep an eye on the prize by making sure you have a clear understanding of your consumer's journey, and how and where content plays a role in moving them through this.

This context makes it really clear how successful (or not) any content is in moving consumers towards your ultimate value led success factor.

We saw some exciting examples of clients who had cracked this nut and had a real understanding of the role that their content plays in this journey, most notably The Prince's Trust.

This was combined with a strong content voice, in the language of their consumer, on topics that informed and engaged them. It puts them ahead of the game.

Charlotte Ridley, head of marketing partnerships at The Prince's Trust, showed an impressive overview of how being useful and listening while leveraging storytelling through content allowed The Prince's Trust to connect with its audience in a way that was real, honest and ground breaking for the charity sector.

What was clear throughout all of the speakers at the CMA Summit was the client's need for a trusted partner to help navigate content marketing's choppy waters to achieve success.

At One Two Four we're passionate about the importance of understanding how each client's audience makes their decisions – the journey they go on – married with the ability to tell rich, engaging stories that are compelling and informative.

 Sandra Peat is strategy director at One Two Four


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