Where do we stand with content marketing? Are the predictions made at the beginning of this year somewhat true? I spoke to the experts in the field of content marketing about where we are now, and they do not mince words: there is still a lot of work to be done…
Content Marketing: Integrate with other marketing elements
Mrs. C. Postma is the founder of content marketing agency The Post, author of the book Bingemarketing and a popular speaker. She hoped content marketing would get even more professional this year.
Yet this is not possible at many companies and brands.
“Coronavirus is, therefore, working to deliver something good for content marketing. Companies are now really thinking about what they stand for, what their most important message is, and whether that actually fits with what they convey.”
Learn from the makers of films and series
Even though a shift is now taking place, there is still a lot to be gained in the field of content marketing. “Companies can learn a lot more from the makers of films and series and how they can engage audiences with stories. In this way, we can draw much more towards marketing the knowledge and creativity that the makers of series have been using for years.”
“The first step that you can take as a company is by appointing a showrunner, often the marketing director, someone who devises the brand story and manages the team of writers and agencies from one thought.”
Content campaigns with a creative and conceptual approach
Jonas Vandroemme is Chief Content Strategist at com & co, and he has high expectations of the content marketing profession this year.
“Content becomes more creative and is less focused on quantity, more on quality. This trend had been set in motion for a while, but we really noticed it with our customers at the beginning of this year: we were allowed to run more and more content campaigns, with a creative and conceptual approach taking precedence.”
Content marketing agencies provide added value to companies in crisis.
Vandroemme, like Postma, sees that Coronavirus has a positive influence on content marketing.
“You see in Belgium that it is the content marketing agencies that we’re able to keep their heads above water during the crisis. Some even fared better than usual. They could create the greatest added value for companies in the crisis. With good Content, you build a bond with your audience. And that audience is more important than ever before.”
In the aftermath of the first corona wave, we do see some slowing down when it comes to innovative Content.
“Content marketing has proven its worth, but extremely innovative campaigns are not yet available. Perhaps companies will be playing it safe in the coming months.”
Despite that, there is a good chance that the market will revive. “In Belgium, more agencies will undoubtedly focus on content marketing. It has turned out to be a stable market. On the other hand, hopefully, more companies will see the value of content marketing. So more providers and more demand. The market is really going to revive, which is, of course, very positive for the profession.”
Vandroemme also hopes that companies will collaborate more.
“Together, you reach a larger audience. We have seen it happening very slowly in Belgium: companies entering into content partnerships or setting up a content platform together. It is very wise to put your marketing budget into this because it will yield you much more than individual campaigns.”
(Hospes goes on like this, I can tell you!)
Content marketing: too often redeemable campaigns
Cor Hospes is a Dutch specialist in content marketing and storytelling. He thinks we are still going from one hype to the other and forgetting content marketing basics.
“Everyone shouts and roars, while the basis of content marketing is still not in order. Many companies define the term in their own way. Content marketing within companies is also all too often about exchangeable campaigns and other short-term promotions. It is aimed at the widest possible target group that only exists on Excel sheets. That’s why it often goes wrong. “
Meaningful and brand distinctive stories
Companies, large and small, know that they need good Content to survive but have no idea how to go about it. “Content and content marketing starts with the DNA of your company. When asked who am I and what do I want to mean for the world? Once you know that story, go to step two: who is your audience, and what does your audience really want?
How can you enrich and make their lives more pleasant? What are their wishes, dreams, fears, and secrets? Map that out. There is only one way to find out: talk to them. Many companies and brands still want to be there for everyone. Everyone is nobody. Make a choice.”
“That makes it difficult for marketing. There they are not trained to tell meaningful and brand-distinctive stories for a sharply defined audience, let alone properly assess them. They are familiar with campaigns for the masses, and they enjoy sending them via your socials, but that has nothing to do with content marketing. That does not require campaigns, but a culture.”
“If there is no love for storytelling within an organization, if a CMO or CEO does not want to commit to content marketing, then it will get stuck at the blotter level.”
Internal communication is about to take off.
Like Vandroemme and Postma, Hospes notes that Coronavirus ensures that companies really have to look for who they are.
“Suddenly, we no longer all work in the office, so internal communication is going to take off. As a company, you want to bind your people to you. What are we doing it for? Do we still share and feel the same? You need a good brand story for that. Otherwise, you will lose your employees.”
“During the lockdown, companies have noticed that what they say is often incorrect with who they are and what they stand for. Winning outside means starting inside.”
Digital clubhouse for fans
Marketing budgets will really take a hit in January. “That is why, as a company, you have to deploy your employees and your own fans. They will act as an extension of your marketing department.
Companies also see that the power of socials has worn off. They want to communicate directly with their fans again without the intervention of big tech companies. That is why they start their own platform. A digital clubhouse for their fans. A dedicated channel for consistently publishing stories with an editorial formula and brand distinctive face. It’s a way to build a loyal and trustworthy audience.”
So, according to the experts, there is still a lot of work to be done, but all three are already seeing a slight shift in the right direction, unfortunately, thanks to Coronavirus. More and more companies are working on their brand story and are now discovering that it is often not right with what they convey. Furthermore, according to Vandroemme and Hospes, content platforms will play a bigger role, and I think that is a positive development.
I am a little less skeptical, but I do recognize that companies can get a lot more out of content marketing. What is needed for that? A CMO or CEO who takes the content marketing profession seriously and ensures that the resources: professionals (story makers), budget, and time are released to tackle the most and integrate well in the organization, on the inside and outside.
And I am a huge fan of content partnerships, so I hope, just like Vandroemme, that we will see a lot more of that shortly. It only makes you more creative when you work together, reach a much larger and often new audience, and can share the costs so that you can tackle it much better.
Very curious about your opinion about where we are now with content marketing. Which development will be the most important in your eyes in the coming months?