‘Content marketing’ is a game changer

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‘Content marketing’ is a game changer


Robert Rose, chief strategist at Content Marketing Institute (CMI) [ROBERT ROSE]

In a Red Bull video on the company’s YouTube channel, you don’t often see the drink itself. In a video entitled “Shaun White’s Private Pipe - Red Bull Project X,” American snowboarder Shaun White is transported to a half-pipe on snowy mountain via a helicopter. The helicopter has the Red Bull logo on its side, and as White does tricks on the half-pipe, a Red Bull flag waves in the background.

The video, targeting extreme sports enthusiasts, promotes the Red Bull brand without actually showing a person sip out of a can.

In marketing, that’s called content marketing. An advertiser must offer an advertisement that is essentially content attractive to a target audience. The brand gets its message across by offering something valuable - not just promoting itself.

This has become a powerful type of marketing with the spread of smartphones and the rise of social media.

According to a case study by Weidert Group, a marketing agency, Fisher Tank Company, which produces storage tanks, was able to expand its sales through what it described as an “inbound marketing” strategy: getting more people to visit its website by offering different types of content related to the company’s business.

Robert Rose, chief strategist at Content Marketing Institute (CMI), whose list of consulting clients includes big names such as Dell, Microsoft and NASA, says that such a “disruptive” form of marketing is shifting the way companies around the globe do business, providing customers with new value and experiences - while also promoting a brand.

Korean companies are not strangers to this model, Rose says.

Viva Republica, developer of a P2P mobile payment platform Toss, is an example of a local company shaking up its industries, according to Ross, by providing experiences that customers have not seen before.

Rose is visiting Korea to attend the Content Marketing Asia Forum, the first content marketing forum in the region, as the keynote speaker. The event, organized by CMI, will take place from June 27 to 29 under theme “Content Marking, the Game Changer of Business.”

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo and the Korea JoongAng Daily, Rose talked about how content marketing is reshaping the identities of certain companies.

Following are excerpts of the interview with Rose.

Q. There seems to be a number of ways to define “content marketing.” What is the most notable difference between content marketing and other marketing strategies?

. Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action. But that is simply a fancy and formal way of saying that it is a strategy where we utilize owned media to deliver value to existing and prospective customers through content.

Many companies operate their own media platform, their own digital channel. What are some of the factors that differentiate those who succeed in content marketing from those who fail?

Operating your own media platform or digital channel does not guarantee success. You have to consistently deliver value through the content you create on the media platform or digital channel. The main factors that differentiate the companies who succeed are those who focus on three things. The first is that they look their content platform as a product, not simply a marketing tactic.

The second priority is that they look at the main goal as building an audience that will provide multiple lines of value to the business. Content must do more than simply provide for a new lead. Because it is harder, more expensive, and takes longer to deliver results, content must provide for exponential value over time.

This value is not in the content - it is in what the content produces; the audience. And, the third focus that successful companies have is in consistent delivery. We have to build something that more and more people will value over time. So, for example, it doesn’t matter if you blog once a day or once a week, or once a month. The key to success is that you commit to your schedule, and keep to it.

Many companies are producing solid content these days and helpful information to the consumers. But there are also concerns of “excessiveness” or “overload.”

It is incredibly hard to get and hold the consumer’s attention. And many, many companies, as well as people, are producing more and more content. The “overload” you describe is sometimes called content shock. And this is unfortunate, but it is a reality. But to anyone who would say that this is like crying into the ocean, you have to ask them, “What is the alternative?” Do we, as marketers, really expect that content “storm” to subside and become less noisy? Do we really believe that direct advertising, social media or other mechanisms for talking with our customers are going to become easier? Do we think that it is going to become easier to get data from interactions with our customers?

So, yes, I agree that it is harder than ever. And that is why I’m so passionate about creating great content. The noise doesn’t mean we should give up. It just means we have to invest the time, talent and effort to become great at it.

You’ve consulted for non-profit or government organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and NASA. Are there any differences in their content marketing strategies?

Yes, there are some differences. The biggest one is that they are not selling anything. But the only thing this changes is the measurement goal, not the approach. The approach of content marketing is as valuable, maybe even more so, in non-profit and government organizations as it is in the private sector. For instance, in the United States, colleges are really beginning to suffer in enrollment rates. These schools, more than ever, have to establish value with young people.

In the U.S. especially - the costs of university and the importance of a university degree have never been more at odds with one another. So, we are seeing colleges really turn to content and engagement strategies in order to lure students. Also, we are seeing competition from the private sector in online education companies, and that gives more incentives to universities to expand their product offerings - and in many ways these online offerings are promoted through the use of content marketing approaches.

Large conglomerates like Coca-Cola as well as newly launched start-ups are all interested in content marketing. Should strategies differ depending on the size of the companies and their development stage? How would you advise start-ups in forming their own content marketing strategy?

Yes, just as their marketing strategies differ, the content marketing approach will differ as well. We find that smaller companies and start-ups actually have an easier time getting into content marketing because they can move faster and they have less corporate politics to work through. On the other hand, larger companies typically have faster success with content marketing because they can devote more resources to it and even make acquisitions.

In either case, the key is to first figure out how big a part content marketing will have in the overall integrated marketing strategy. Then, the critical factor is to invest appropriately. The biggest failure we see in larger businesses is that they invest too little, thinking they need to move quickly. And, the biggest mistake in small businesses is that they believe that they can “build it and they will come.” They hope that they can rely on search engine optimization or word of mouth to build traffic to their new platform. They need to think about promoting themselves more.

With companies making investments in content marketing, traditional marketing channels such as television, newspapers and magazines - the so-called old media - are facing challenges. The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have thrown their hats into the native advertising market. How would you evaluate such a response?

They are facing the same thing that all marketing leaders are facing, which is a disrupted media space. For some companies like The New York Times and the Washington Post, it has been a new renaissance of value. And, for others they have really struggled. Traditional media has an amazing opportunity to align around the value of brand trust. They have to create platforms that engage, retain and grow their most prized asset ? the trust of their audience. So, those traditional media companies that can innovate in that space, like the New York Times, will see entirely new business models such as native advertising, and consulting and agency services through their T-Brand Studio. Others, like Dennis Publishing - a media company focused on the automotive space in the United Kingdom - are actually getting into selling products. Dennis Publishing has acquired automotive dealerships and is now selling cars.

So, interestingly these media companies are in a period of transformation just like product companies. There is no difference any longer between media companies and product companies - we are all audience companies.

Marketing is very sensitive to change. What will be the next big thing, the next theme or agenda, that will take over the marketing industry after content marketing?

It is very hard to predict the future. But I believe if we look at the trends of marketing, we are looking to a practice where creating valuable experiences across all areas of business is the future. I see many innovative businesses - many of them coming from Korea and other parts of Asia - that are creating multiple platforms of value through content, digital and offline experiences.

Companies like Viva Republica, KSV and ZigZag are disrupting traditional spaces of finance, entertainment and ecommerce. These are companies that will increasingly compete by creating integrated experiences that look more like products than they do traditional advertising. So, it may be the case that marketing transforms to a much more experience-focused department and is measured more like new products are measured.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO, PARK SU-RYON [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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