Daily, consumers are inundated with messages about latest beverage or the must have pair of shoes. From the magazine stand to the bus stop, there are messages telling people what to buy and how–and that’s just walking down the street. In their homes, watching television or perusing the net, people are likely to encounter more advertisements on a daily basis than at any time in history. Some of this is due to the reality that consuming media is easier and more ubiquitous than ever, the other part has to do with people having a lower tolerance for ads as a result. People know when they’re being sold to, and sometimes they don’t like it.
For marketers, this has a presented quite challenge, given the nature of the business. The options have come to doing less and risk not being a part of the conversation, or doing more and become a nuisance or being blocked entirely. Neither is the ideal position when you’re trying to build awareness, recognition and loyalty; honestly, even that has become elusive in a world of constant, immediate competition on all sides. Thus, many marketers and the companies and brands for which they work, have turned to content marketing.
The Content Marketing Institute defines the practice as “creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience…” The idea is rooted in the long held belief that people respond most to emotions and reaching them requires a human touch, not just signs of “new,” “fresh” or “sale.” Content Marketing is all about creating a strategy that connects to and resonates with people beyond your product. In other words, what value are you trying to bring me, how can you be of service to me versus me being of service to you. Businesses are realizing that the key to the consumers heart is a friendship–or something deeper, as suggested by Discover Card’s latest campaign, which claims “We treat you, like you treat you” in a recent commercial.
However, this type of strategy calls for more than a commercial. It requires, as the definition states, “consistent content” to be effective. Subsequently, brands have also turned to social media to carry out their efforts. From Facebook to Twitter, Instagram, and more recently, Snapchat, companies are focused on finding ways to befriend consumers, with meaningful messages that are not always directly about the brand but related. For example, a food delivery companies may post a GIF and a message about being full from lunch, or find a way to tie a trending topic to their messaging, as not to disrupt the conversation as usual, but to join in. Likewise, with blogs and magazines, now popular by companies from Marriott to Uber, brands will focus on highlighting things like travel destinations and road trips, respectively. Understanding that one’s needs and interests exist beyond the scope of a single moment.
This transition to content marketing has resulted in highly creative and exceptionally relevant strategies, to which consumers have responded positively. It has created a culture where, online, consumers seek out and follow such brands, because they want to see what they have to say, instead of brands hoping that consumers won’t ignore their messages or block them altogether. It’s a powerful place to be in, for both, and one has to wonder why it’s just recently becoming a trend. Either way, every brand and company should get onboard.