For many years, creating content meant making a TV spot
These days anyone can create content, but not all content is worth creating.
As the cloud gets cloudier, companies are challenged to rise above the turbulence of advertising and online chatter to reach the sunny calm where brands, media, influencers, and consumers work together to create meaning, value, and connection.
I’ll be interested, if you’ll be interesting
As brands such as Red Bull, Levis, Absolut, Coca Cola, Harley Davidson, etc. have successfully shown, the best way to market any good, service, brand or place is by providing experiences and content that is so engaging, consumers and the media can’t help but pay attention.
Move successfully past the content marketing mainstream and combine the three hottest marketing trends:
According to a 2011 study by the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is one of the top-growing fields with an increasing number of marketers relying on content strategy for overall success.
The objectives of content strategy are:
Brand awareness – 69%
Customer acquisition – 68%
Lead generation – 67%
Customer retention/loyalty – 62%
Content Marketing Institute, 2011
Asked “How important is a previous unique experience when deciding what specific brands you use in the future?”, over 62% said a unique brand experience was very important; only 1% disagreed.
“Best Experience Brands”, global study by Jack Morton Worldwide, 2011
In a study, 85% of respondents said that participating in experiential marketing would cause them to talk about a product or brand and 1 in 4 marketing executives believe that event marketing provides the best return on investment EventView, 2006
Sponsorship is the fastest growing form of marketing according to the International Events Group (IEG), which is projecting a significant sponsorship spending growth (4.8%) for 2013, even in the face of overall economic volatility.
“International event Partnerships, Sponsorship and Fundraising”, by Nadia Laice,
And it pays off for the brands. Corporations that consistently invested in sponsorship outperformed market averages and those who spent at an above average level outperformed those who spent at a below average level.
“Does sponsorship pay off? An examination of the relationship between investment in sponsorship and business performance” International Journal of Sport Marketing & Sponsorship
69% of Canadians said they would prefer to do business with a brand that supports their favorite causes Today’s consumers are interested in a brand’s values. They’re looking for brands with a conscience, brands that are good citizens who support the community in a fun and engaging way. 69% of Canadians said they would prefer to do business with a brand that supports their favorite causes, 53% said the same for arts / cultural events. Interestingly, Canada is the only nation in the world where sports do not account for the greatest number of proposal requests or allocations. The number one sector in Canada is fairs, festivals and exhibitions, followed by the arts at number two “Consumer Sponsorship Rankings”, Partnership Group, 2012
What to do?
Brands have to create emotional content that tells a story to impact consumers’ behaviors, attitudes, or perceptions of their brand in a positive way – content that is not about the product and not a sales pitch.
Content that is driven by shared values and a vision to make the world a better place. Content that engages all five senses. Content that asks questions instead of promoting products. Content that enables communication, stimulates discussion and brings people together. Content the consumer identifies with and wants to share with friends.
Cultural content – value promotion at its best All this can be achieved in one fell sweep: Developing custom-made, brand-owned, cultural content and cultural events. Putting the logo of your brand on the catalogue of an exhibition or show is a step in the right direction but doesn’t compare to the impact of developing and owning content or an event.
In this context “culture” is defined as an inclusive concept, encompassing not just fine arts, but design, crafts, sports, leisure, community-oriented projects and even cause-driven events. In short: content and experiences that elevate the human spirit and bring people together.
The content matrix
The content you develop engages your audience in various dimensions. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on only two.
The first (horizontal) dimension has product/service related content—that is to say the informative, instructional rational kind—on one side of the equation; and value driven—speaking to our emotions and triggering the hedonistic tendencies of the audience—on the other.
The second (vertical) dimension describes the level of engagement, necessary to experience the content. Absorption, on one end of the spectrum, describes the passive consumption of content, with a low level of engagement, addressing only 1 or 2 senses. Immersive content on the other side of the spectrum requires active participation, engages all five senses and takes the audience to a different world.
Content in the bottom left corner has the least potential to generate an emotional connection with your brand; e.g. product manual.
Content in the top right corner is the most interesting for your audience.
It immerses the participant, is not a sales pitch, and ideally engages all
5 senses. This kind of content has the most potential to create an emotional bond with your brand; e.g. Red Bull Music Academy
6 simple steps
Let’s look at the necessary steps to develop engaging cultural content for your brand
Branding 101 – What are your values? Who are your customers?
Anything you do should be based on, and guided by, your vision and values and an in-depth knowledge of your customers. If you’re an urban brand that promises adventure and excitement, and your customers are outgoing and fun loving, the content you develop is of course different from that developed by a luxury brand that promises its affluent clientele exclusivity.
Do your homework and get your story straight. You might also want to find out what your competitors are doing to avoid replicating their strategy.
Think like a content developing agency
In the new market with a much more demanding and powerful consumer, you have to think like a content development agency to stay competitive. No matter if your revenue comes from selling a product or offering a service.
“Compelling content is the currency that buys your customer’s attention and affection long before they reach the stage of comparing features and benefits.”
Define objectives and success metrics
Assess your situation, define objectives and develop success metrics. You want to be able to measure the level of success for your project. At the end of the project you want to be able to evaluate how successful it was and learn from the experience to keep improving your strategy.
Keep in mind that measuring outcome parameters and success metrics involves research, which requires resources – financial, human and otherwise. The costs attached to those resources should be included in the budget to avoid surprises and enable a sound post-event evaluation process.
Develop ideas, based on your vision and values.
Now that you are aware of the content matrix, ask yourself what kind of content or event will be the most interesting for your audience. What will create the most opportunity to generate event-based secondary level content (photos, videos, catalogs, interviews, etc.) and will have the biggest potential to be shared, spread, talked about.
Keep a long-term strategy in mind. You want to be able to renew the experience and update the event/content over time to remain interesting and relevant in the eyes of your audience.
Post event evaluation and measuring ROI
If you have done your homework and defined objectives and success metrics as outlined in step 3, you are now ready to reap the fruits of your labor.
A post-event evaluation tells you how good you were and will help you to do a better job next time.
You will know how successful the project was and if you achieved your objectives.
You might get new insights from your audience, potentially impacting other areas of your marketing and communication efforts.
You will be able improve the project to increase reach and impact for the next one.
You will have the tools to convince key stakeholders to continue and expand your cultural content developments efforts.
By: Erik Hauser
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