The Definitive Guide to Strategic Content Marketing
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The Definitive Guide to Strategic Content Marketing

Perspectives, Issues, Challenges and Solutions

Lazar Dzamic, Justin Kirby

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eBook - ePub

The Definitive Guide to Strategic Content Marketing

Perspectives, Issues, Challenges and Solutions

Lazar Dzamic, Justin Kirby

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About This Book

Understand content marketing best practice from a new perspective with exclusive insight and contributions from leading academics, experts, global thought leaders and influencers in the industry on key topics, to create a truly unique resource - including a foreword by Tom Goodwin and bonus online chapters. Marketers everywhere are talking about content, but not everyone is saying the same thing. Some professionals love content and believe it has revolutionized the practice of marketing. To others, it is mere hype: a new name for what marketers have always done. The Definitive Guide to Strategic Content Marketing brings together all these diverse perspectives, structuring them around useful key topics that provide insight into the multi-faceted nature of content marketing, weaving together different voices to present a balanced view of the subject. Grouping the discussion around relevant subjects such as content monetization, native advertising, visuals vs video, and the challenge of measuring results, this book allows readers to cherry-pick the most useful aspects of each discussion according to their interests and apply it to their own marketing initiatives. With a foreword written by Tom Goodwin (author of Digital Darwinism and EVP, Head of Innovation at Zenith USA) and containing contributions from brands such as GE, General Motors, HSBC, Football Association, Diageo and Pernod Ricard, plus agencies including Oglivy Group UK, Havas, Zenith, Vizeum, Accenture, this book is a truly unique resource. Insight and contributions from A-list industry professionals and influencers, include: Tim Lindsay, Bob Garfield, Bob Hoffman, Faris Yakob, Thomas Kolster, Rebecca Lieb, Tia Castagno, Scott Donaton, Rober Rose, David Berkowitz, Professors Mara Einstein, Mark Ritson and Douglas Rushkoff.

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Content marketing: a new and better promise?


Why Content is seen as the solution to current marketing challenges

Technological change is not additive; it is ecological, which means, it changes everything.
In the Introduction we mentioned the idea that Content could be seen as a symptom of marketing’s evolution rather than just a solution. We also introduced the VUCA conditions that are enveloping the modern marketing business (and overall). The above quote from 1998, by media theorist and cultural critic Neil Postman, helps explain the desperate need to adapt, to survive and, if possible, to thrive in such an environment. We also showed that instead of trying to define Content on a meta-level, a better approach would be to take advice from visual thinker and author Dan Roam (2009) and start asking better questions about its role:
Whoever best describes the problem is the most likely to solve it.
The beginning of that answer is summed up in expert feedback highlighted in the second phase of the Defining Branded Content for the Digital Age research commissioned by the Branded Content Marketing Association mentioned in the previous chapter (BCMA, 2016):
So, a lot of the reasons for the increase in this [non-interruptive] approach is because there have been fundamental changes in the way that people consume and use media and digital technologies.
We will be looking here at these changing ecological conditions in detail. This chapter explores why Content is seen as a better promise than the (more interruptive) advertising model it challenges. Later, in Chapter 10, we will be hearing from Content’s naysayers. Hopefully, presenting the for and against like this will help you judge where you stand in this heated debate.

Reasons to see Content as a potential solution

Brands losing control: no more faking it?

There is a recurring theme among some marketing academics and practitioners about how companies have lost control of their brands to their consumers thanks to the democratization of media and, specifically, the proliferation of social platforms (McAfee, 2009). It is one that lies behind the attempt to develop a more ‘holistic conceptualization’ of the term branded content in the first phase of the BCMA’s research mentioned above (Asmussen et al, 2014):
This loss of control over branded content is an aspect of social media that organizations have to learn to live with. It supports the need for organizations to instil good practices, good customer service and communications across their entire business.
The point being made is that now both its cheerleading customers and critics can create and distribute content connected with a brand. It is one thing to understand this in principle, but a much bolder step to let go and suddenly embrace the kind of open-source branding being advocated by Professor Susan Fournier and Dr Jill Avery (2011). They present an upside to consumer empowerment where brands can not only have their customers discuss their content, but also have their fans actually create it for them. Yet, even when sold as a virtue of necessity, any rewards are always going to have to be weighed against the potential risks. These include having your brand hijacked (Wipperfurth, 2005) or reputation wrecked by #brandvandals (Waddington and Earl, 2013), not to mention the own goals.
‘Thriving on chaos’, along the lines that business guru Tom Peters encourages from the sidelines (1989), is all very well if you are not likely to be caught in the crossfire. This is critical because it is both a real and a perceived risk in a new world where marketing directors now fret about how that new idea they present to their C-suite colleagues could be a career-ending move.

CASE STUDY Coca-Cola #MakeItHappy
Coca-Cola’s ‘Make it happy!’ campaign is a good example of the risk posed by trying to engage consumers and activate them in the co-creation of your branded content. Promoted as part of their 2015 Super Bowl commercial, Twitter users were prompted to reply to negative tweets they found with the hashtag #MakeItHappy. Coca-Cola then transformed the tweets into ‘cute ASCII art’ along with a message telling the world how they were helping turn the hate that had been found into something happy. According to The Guardian, the stunt was subsequently suspended after they were tricked by the Gawker Media team into tweeting Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf line by line from the @MeinCoke Twitter account they had set up (Woolf, 2015).

Of course, the least risky move for organizations is to avoid doing anything that will get their consumers, or society, up in arms. That way, there would be no loss of control. The best that many can currently do is try to engineer their reputation through various image-building projections such as advertising, PR and similar – but by the standards of the web reputation-building norms, this is close to ‘faking it’. Plugging the gap between those brand promises and customers’ actual experiences is a starting point, given how easily dissatisfaction can get amplified online. These and other effects of digital disruption have been a catalyst for organizations to think more deeply about two key areas:
  1. The customer experience ‘gestalt’ across all touchpoints, so that brand experience as a whole is perceived as more than the sum of its parts.
  2. The ontology of the organization (the worthy nature of its existence), so it becomes clearer about who it is, what it does and why it matters – or why anyone should care.
The answers to those questions can be seen to form part of a bigger promise that brands can play in our lives and society as a whole. We will be looking at this more in the following chapters dedicated to the ‘Experience Economy’ (Chapter 2) and ‘purpose’ (Chapter 3). The role Content plays here is key to understanding its potential and expectation as marketing’s better promise, too.

The social media engagement delusion

Where the consumers go, brands follow, particularly when trying to connect with that elusive ‘millennial’ generation in social media. Suddenly, everything has become the matter of ‘conversation’, causing a lot of despair in the brand community because of the massive ineffectiveness issues. The argument here that works in Content’s favour is that much of social media activity is irrelevant because it is done just for the sake of it. It is the question of quality more than anything else. The notion of failed ‘engagement’ is palpable. The Pepsi Refresh Project is often mentioned as an example.

CASE STUDY Pepsi Refresh Project
Pepsi have been having their own trials and tribulations when it comes to social media, namely with their Refresh Project exploration of ‘how a brand could be integrated into the digital space’ (Leslie, 2015). Led by their former Chief Engagement Officer Frank Cooper back in 2010, Pepsi allocated an initial $20 million for this social media marketing campaign as part of a trailblazing shift of one-third of its ad spend to digital and social media (Zmuda, 2010). The cause-orientated campaign offered grants in various categories for worthy projects chosen by online audiences. Many pundits lauded it at the time as being a means to ‘deepen the relationship with consumers’. The premise was that they were engaging with ‘the crowd’ in something more meaningful and positive than simply interrupting them with ads. Despite the social media success that included the gaining of millions of likes and followers, Pepsi made a hasty retreat back to TV after a 5 per cent drop in market share that year, along with suffering the ignominy of getting knocked off the number two spot by Coke Zero.

Ad veteran Bob Hoffman, of Ad Contrarian fame, points the finger for Pepsi’s ‘massive failure’ squarely at what he sees as the ‘infantile delusion that social media marketing is based on’ (2017a):
The silly idea that consumers want to have conversations with and about brands and share their brand enthusiasms with the world.
Hoffman has much more to say on the topic of Content as well (see Chapter 10). For him, the delusion is wider and deeper than just social media.
Smart Insights founder Dr Dave Chaffey offers a different take on the efficacy of social media marketing, seeing the problem instead as one where more ...

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