In the past few years, “content marketing” has gone from buzzword to sophisticated marketing practice, and the NewsCred #ThinkContent Summit has grown along with it – from 150 attendees three years ago to more than 2,000 registrants for this week’s event in New York City.
At the summit, we heard insights and best practices from content experts ranging from Chobani and MasterCard to Droga5 and BuzzFeed. We also learned what not to do. Read on, so you can avoid these seven mistakes yourself.
1. Making “Branded Content” Instead of “Content”
“Create ads that work as content” has been a mantra for years, but with increased media fragmentation and growing consumer choice, it’s never rung truer. To be successful, content marketers must stop interrupting what people want to watch, and start creating content people want to watch, implores NewsCred’s Head of Strategy Michael Brenner.
YouTube’s Cenk Bulbul shared research that took this truth one step further: consumers only want to watch ads they can skip! GEICO accepted the challenge, and delivered a great piece of video content that dares you to click “skip,” but proves irresistible. (I watched for the full minute.)
Expert tip: Create content people actually want to watch.
2. Confusing Your Product with Your Purpose
As marketers, we often research who our customers are, but we also need to remind ourselves what business we’re in. After all, Kodak wasn’t in the business of selling film; it was in the business of capturing memories. As NewsCred CEO and co-founder Shafqat Islam points out, GoPro only mentions the word “camera” a handful of times on its homepage – GoPro is in the business of sharing experiences.
Expert tip: Stay true to the “why” of your brand.
3. Building Your House on Rented Land
“Content is King, but Distribution is Queen” has become such a maxim among marketers that the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. In our attempt to be on every platform, we’ve neglected our owned channels, warns NewsCred’s Brenner. On-site visits enable the greatest control of the consumer experience and provide the most granular data to help brands build successful relationships with consumers.
But hubs on owned channels alone aren’t enough. “Everybody can be a publisher, but few publishers have readers,” reminds Tomas Kellner of GE. Case in point: 21.4 percent of visits to GE Reports come in through referral sites. This piece from GE Reports racked up loads of media pickups – and 3,000 shares from the Independent alone.
Expert tip: Don’t forget to invest in your owned channels.
4. Creating Content in Just One Format
One-size-fits-all messaging doesn’t work, and neither does one-format-fits-all. Create content in multiple formats so it’s easy for others to share on your behalf. That means turning long-form blog posts into tweets, slideshows, GIFs, Vines, and infographics. One of IntelIQ’s most successful stories (with more than 300K views) was about a Spider Dress, which crawled all over the web in various formats, building awareness and driving traffic back to IntelIQ.
Expert tip: Take a “package” approach to your content. Slice and dice it so it’s easy for others to distribute.
5. Measuring Weekly
The next stage in the evolution of content marketing will be demonstrating ROI. But content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, Intel’s Luke Kintigh says. Long-term success will require an “always on” approach, building presence and engagement over time. GE has been at it for 8 years, and it wasn’t hockey stick growth, GE’s Kellner confesses. As you build long-term presence, measure everything, and mine successes for insights to inform future campaigns. As Pixibility’s recent report shows, the most successful creators publish much more frequently and consistently.
Expert tip: Measure everything – but not in isolation.
6. Thinking Marketing Is Only Responsible for Brand Building
Seventy percent of the sales process occurs before a prospect ever meets a salesperson, Ben Edward of IBM explains. Marketing’s job is “creating opportunity,” which means taking responsibility for a greater portion of the path to purchase.
Expert tip: Invest in nurture funnel management software and have a frank conversation about Marketing’s role as a revenue-driver, not a cost-center.
7. Thinking Too Small
“There are no low-interest categories, only low-interest ideas,” says Droga5 Vice Chairman Andrew Essex. And he’s got the portfolio to prove it, including a heartwarming and much-lauded campaign for Honey Maid, showing today’s “wholesome” families.
Tomas Kellner of GE agreed. “If you can produce content that people want to talk about and share, then you win,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s ‘brand content’ or ‘sponsored content’ or ‘native advertising’ or ‘journalism.’” It’s just great work.
Expert tip: Assume you have permission to make great work.
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