So what is content, anyway?
And I’m not talking about the state of peaceful happiness and satisfaction. Though, I suppose good content should support that.
Content has been the buzzword of the marketing world lately, as the businesses and brands work to better engage with their audience.
Recently I spent the better part of a week with about 2,600 marketers from around the country who are all working to get better at content marketing. Content Marketing World, a conference developed by the Content Marketing Institute, is the largest event of its kind and seeks to educate marketers and continue to advance the industry.
I could have asked each person at the conference to define content and received a different answer. In my eyes, therein lies the key to developing great content.
It comes in many different forms and is consumed in many different forms. And there isn’t one right answer in how to do it well.
Among several quotes that stuck with me from CMWorld came from Scott Stratten, the president of UnMarketing, in his keynote talk: “Sometimes content is just giving a damn.”
Well, duh, right?
As easy as it sounds, it’s really a fundamental switch from brands just talking at their audience. Or toward their audience. Or kindof near their audience. Or, let’s face it, throwing something out there and hoping it sticks with their audience.
Stratten’s keynote drove home the message that good content needs to be a dialogue between a brand and a consumer. It needs to connect with your audience on a personal level and start a meaningful dialogue that isn’t necessarily about selling your product. It comes down to understanding your customer’s needs – and remembering that your product isn’t the solution – what your product does is the solution.
Gone are the days of traditional marketing, where strategies focused on print or broadcast media. Effective marketing now needs to occur across multiple platforms, be customized to your audience and delivered fast. And, above all, it needs to be accurate.
Audiences are looking for a relevant conversation (umm, content!) about your product that means something to them. Great content can allow you to connect with your audience in a way that is practical and engaging without needing to sell them. “Every occasion isn’t a selling occasion,” Stratten said.
With my journalism background, his message particularly resonated with me because it isn’t far from that world. Marketing shouldn’t be about spin and PR. Much like journalists report the most important elements of a news story, as marketers we should report the most important elements of our brand and get that information out in a manner that is timely, effective, honest and real.
It’s as easy (and as difficult) as that.