There was a time long ago when the job of a marketer was simpler. Skills were learned and honed on the path to marketing mastery. Your media choices could be counted on one hand, customer feedback was in a timely and controlled fashion and your working day ended generally at the end of the day.
As we now know all too well our customers now live and interact in this constant, "always on" world. It is normal for them to engage with our brands and with each other on their own terms, in their own time – and as marketers and brands, we must ensure that we listen, interact and engage with them in real-time too.
Social Media has been the fuel to turbo charge this behaviour change but brands now understand that a planned content strategy needs to sit behind it to ensure that that your content conversations stand out from the pack.
Having a content strategy is not a new idea. But in the most part investment has previously been focused against paid for media.
The behaviour shift, driven by new technology and media platforms, has now put the spotlight on owned and earned channels. And that makes total logical sense. If I am a customer buying a car, I don't wait for the TV ad to appear in X Factor and then pop into a car dealership for a brochure.
I will check out the reviews online, I will visit the website to see the spec in more detail and use the online videos to see the interior of the vehicle – I may even download the ap that enables me to design my own spec to fast track my purchase. Once I've bought my new car I will upload pictures and comments about it on my social media sites.
The TV ad might well be part of this eco-system, but increasingly customers will seek out and mould a personal experience that mixes traditional campaign elements with continuous elements. So in the world of an "always on" marketing having a content strategy that flexes to communicate in both campaign and continuous mode is critical – and requires us to consider new processes, new skills and news models.
This can feel overwhelming, but it needn't be – the same skills of understanding and listening to your customer and then executing brilliantly still apply. The way we need to do it however has changed:
- Be clear on your content objective; don't just re-purpose your content. Think about the role of each channel within the content strategy and what the content needs to do.
- Set high standards. Marketers and agencies spend huge amounts of time finessing and debating the frames of a TV ad, the same due diligence needs to apply to our owned and earned channels.
- Make space for interaction. Customers expect it. How are you ensuring they can comment, co-create and share your content?
- Facilitate experts. Make room for different types of partners in the creative process – UX designers and developers for example will need to be much closer to process if our content strategies are to succeed.
- Listen, learn, and be agile. Learn to love your data – personally monitor your likes, shares, hits on a daily basis – be alert to what your competitors are doing and how you could do it better adapt quickly.
The reality is that our brands need to be "always on"- and now as marketers we must be "always on" too. Our customers are telling us exactly what we need to know and need to do and we must rise to the challenge to provide them with the content, communications and products that meet their ever increasing expectations.
This post is by Jo Davey, Marketing Capability Director at Brand Learning.