By Avi Dan
Marketing is increasingly more complex, what with disruptive technologies in mobile, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and automation. Consumers are now more empowered and more skeptical than ever about businesses. The media is fragmenting in today’s “always-on” world.
This feeds an insatiable appetite for diversified branded content. It challenges marketers to act more like newspaper or magazine editors, and mix long-form “features” with by bite size lifestyle morsels. This supplants the traditional campaign-based model of digital as extension to the TV buy.
In the hyper-complex, chaotic ecosystem, no single ad could tell the whole multi-dimensional story of a brand to a diverse audiences. “Positioning”, the celebrated interruptive model of message-pushing, owning a distinctive real-estate of the customer’s mind, is out of date. In this age of dialogue marketing, content management is the new strategic imperative for brands.
However, as brands embrace content marketing, marketers don’t just want content — they want a lot of it. Demand for branded content is driving staggering growth and investment. A survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that 73% of marketers say that creating more engaging content is a top priority of their organization. In 2016, marketers spent more than $10 billion on branded content, according to Forrester Research. The Boston Consulting Group expects spending on branded content to rise to $25 billion by 2019.
Brands could once produce just 2 or 3 TV commercials a year, and spend about eight-to-nine-months developing one piece of content and, then, half-a-million-dollars on producing each piece of film. Now, those 2 or 3 pieces have turned into hundreds and thousands of pieces of content,; eight months has changed to eight days and eight hours, while budgets have become smaller. Many brands are paying a high price for this proliferation by producing a large volume of low quality content, simply because they feel like they need to be on social media.
Because of sub-par quality, most content goes unseen. Marketing analytics firm Beckon found that that just 5% of content generated 90% of total consumer engagements. The rest is noise. In fact, branded content as a marketing approach is failing, and consumers are rebelling, with one in five smartphone users, or almost 420 million people worldwide, blocking advertising when browsing the web on cellphones. That represents a 90% annual increase. Consumers don’t reject the clutter – they reject the crappy content which does not inspire, enlighten, educate and entertain consumers.
Content marketing requires scale, and a different set of management skills. It requires planning and resource allocation, and the understanding that content is not a tactical tool. Here are a few things that can help manage scaling the content demands of a brand:
1. Set an editorial calendar. It will ensure adequate time to prepare content in a timely manner without feeling rushed
2. Think “repurposing.” Core pieces that can be adapted help create a wide variety of content on the same or similar subjects, that will be quicker to apply at various channels
3. Queuing. Do have an inventory of finished content “in waiting”, ready to publish if current content is pulled or suddenly becomes irrelevant.
4. Create content in batches. Produce multiple pieces concurrently in order to lower cost and to increase efficiencies.
5. Outsourcing. When you don’t have the resources to produce high quality content that you need have, an external network that can be quickly activated, comes in very handy.
Content should not be about impressions. With content, you don’t really get credit just because you’ve put a lot of it out there or because a lot of people saw that it existed. You get credit when you engage people, and entertain and inspire them with what you publish. To avoid a quality trap, you need to approach it strategically and understand how each piece contributes to brand equity.
By Avi Dan
Avi Dan is CEO of Avidan Strategies. It improves agency partnerships, and manage agency search and compensation