Marketing content is not content marketing: 10 tips for turning audiences into customers

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Syrup through a Straw

Marketing Content Is NotContent MarketingPhoto credit: Rahel Anne BailieCopyright 2016 Scroll LLP


@ScrollUK @rahelab

RAHEL ANNE BAILIEChief Knowledge OfficerScroll (UK)

Im Rahel Bailie, and Im the Chief Knowledge Officer at Scroll, here in London, England. Im also the resident content strategy geek, and user experience and content marketing point person.2

Is it just semantics?Naming is claiming lets look at these termsMarketingMarketing contentContent marketingContent strategy

Because were going to be focusing on content marketing today, its important for us to clarify the terms involved and how we use them. It is a matter of semantics semantics means meaning and the semantics are important here.3

MarketingMarketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. It is implemented through a marketing strategy, which starts with the setting of objectives that will support the overall aims of the business. A company needs to decide on a strategy that will allow these objectives to be achieved, and attempts to define unique positioning for the product or business to differentiate it from its competitors.(from: Chartered Institute of Marketing)

First off, a definition of marketing. This is the definition from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which states that marketing has a few core elements: (a) a management process, (b) a way to satisfy customer requirements, (c) that defines unique positioning, and (d) differentiates the product or business. 4

Marketing content is communicating the right message through the right promotional channel

And to extend that definition to the content that is involved, marketing content means figuring out the right messages and then communicating them through the right promotional channels.5

Marketing content examples (thanks, Ramat)BriefsWebsite bannersPull up bannersPresentation decksPress kitsLetterheadsBusiness cardsStationary (branded)Fact sheetsExecutive biographiesAwardsPrizesAnnual reportsTestimonials Case studiesWhite papersCompany reportsE-booksEvent invitationsCompany brochuresVideosPhotosGraphicsIllustrationsWebsite contentBlog content

I asked Ramat Tejani, a London-based marketing manager for a service company, to give me an idea of all the types of marketing material she works on, and I got quite the list. Im sure youre all familiar with these examples.6

Marketing content examples (thanks, Royston)And a few others:Price booksProduct cataloguesCSR reportsProduct reviews

Another professional, this time from a manufacturing and distribution company, added to the list of marketing content he deals with. Every industry has its own particular variety of marketing content, though much of it overlaps.7

Content marketingContent marketing a strategic marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience, with the objective of driving profitable customer action. The purpose is to attract and retain customers by creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behaviour. It is an ongoing process best integrated into an overall marketing strategy, on focuses on owning media, not renting it.(from: Content Marketing Institute)

Lets contrast that with a definition of content marketing, which is a strategic marketing technique that is part of an overall marketing strategy. The end goal here is to change user behaviour. Its core elements are that it is meant to (a) drive customer action to (b) attract and retain customers through (c) the provision of content, and on (d) owned media. So that means rather than placing an ad in someone elses publication, you would control the publication, and thats an important distinction.8

Traditional marketing and advertising is telling the world youre a rock star.Content Marketing is showing the world that you are one.

This is one way of explaining the difference, according to Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute. Well look at how this plays out as we go.9

Content marketing (thanks, Robert & Joe)

In content marketing:Content is the productThat content that has separate and distinct value from the product or brandThe content enhances the current and future value of product or brandThe purpose of the content is to build subscribers and engagement

And here are Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, the most recognised faces of the Content Marketing Institute. Rather than look for examples (which well see in a few minutes), Ive listed the core elements of content marketing material.10

Content marketing spectrum

Content marketing isnt a single entity. You can think of it as a quadrant, where it goes from unbranded to branded, from owned to paid, and aimed at subscribers to customers. This infographic maps the landscape quite well, and Id recommend that you go to the URL, listen to the podcast, and watch the video to go deeper into this. It really is a valuable explanation of how these pieces all hang together.11


So the subtitle to this webinar is 10 tips for turning audiences into customers, and this is where we actually look at some of the techniques that you can use, depending on your individual situations.12

Resource-based messagingInfo-based messaging tells an audience:I have these things to say. Come listen to me.

Resource-based messaging appeals to an audience:We understand you have these issues; let us help you solve them.

- Joe Pullizzi, CEO, Content Marketing Institute

Messaging should focus on resources, not just information this is an important distinction, and one that we should focus on for a few minutes. Our audiences are getting more sophisticated. They dont necessarily believe a message because you have something to say. There are companies boasting about their greatness all day long, and its lost its effectiveness. So here are my ten tips for how to use content marketing effectively.

Were into a new era, and people arent looking to companies to persuade them to engage. Theyre looking to their friends (on social media), to trusted advisors (hence the rise of influence marketing), and even to strangers (think TripAdvisor reviews) for information. Its the ultimate whats in it for me they want to solve a problem or address an issue, and theyre going to go where they can find the content to do that.13


Educate. This is about just-in-time learning. I need to learn about something because its important to me, so I am going to go to a source that I trust for that information. 14

This is a long-established site that is all things about children. Who is it run by? No branding. Its an education site. The home page tells you the audience segments it can educate: before pregnancy all the way up to information about big kids. Its a site that supports mothers and mothers-to-be over the course of a couple of decades. Decades thats building audience and user retention.15

It starts with pregnant women, who can go there every week to learn about whats happening in their bodies. The site is not tainted by brand, and I use that word deliberately. In fact, its lack of brand gives it a neutrality factor that lets readers focus on the content theyre reading. But look at the advertisements. Now do you know who runs this resource? The Johnsons products that are advertised are contextually relevant, but theyre not the focus of the site at all. The site is focused around a public service, which is education and support.16


Inform. People like to stay on top of information, but the amount of content out there is overwhelming. Solid updates from a reliable source is a sure source of ongoing readers.17

Sophos is a company that makes anti-virus and security software. I get their updates daily, and read everything they put out. Im not their target market at least, not at the moment but when I move into their target, they will be top of mind. Their content is not sales-y at all. They just give me valuable information to keep myself secure online.18


Content may work better when its not blatantly pushing product at its audience. I notice this in UK television ads I find myself watching more closely to figure out the brand. So the entertainment value is what keeps people engaged.19

If youre a Game of Thrones fan, then, what would be more entertaining than finding out about the places where the show was filmed? The Northern Irish tourism board ran with this, and turned a visit us campaign that could have gotten lost amongst all the other visit us campaigns into something memorable and profitable.20


Help people differentiate. There is so much information out there that getting consistent, accurate information from a reliable source is a godsend.21

In this case, the Content Marketing Institute itself takes on clarification between several practices that confuse people. This may seem counterintuitive why would you potentially send away two third of your audience if theyre not content marketers but its not. CMI is clarifying, and differentiation is hard in this market, where content people publish swaths of material every day. This is the moment of finding the needle in the haystack, and it builds a loyal following. It also leads to business, as hiring the company that gets it is a follow-on benefit.22


People are searching for solutions all the time. Life hacks. Technology hacks. Fashion hacks. They dont want your product. They want a solution to their problem. If you can set up a way to help them do that on an ongoing basis, you have a long-term subscriber.23

This company sells electronic components. A couple of billion GBP a year of them. They set up a community with a tool that helps their audience (customer or not) design their stuff (circuit boards and so on) much faster. What is really smart is that they dont dictate what can be in that design. It could be their products, or some of their products and products they dont carry, or potentially none of their products. It doesnt matter because the designer needs to create the best design for their application. The vendor assumes that because of their product line, the designers will be more apt to choose something from the range of products on offer, and only supplement with external bits as needed.24


You may not be in a position to solve a problem as we saw in the previous example, but you can answer questions that position you as the expert in logical areas. 25

The Mayo Clinic has an outstanding reputation as a facility. They could market themselves to you, but realistically, that would be impractical. If successful, the demand would outstrip capacity. The alternative would be that the brand would be perceived as pushy, and turn patients off. This middle ground is, in my mind, content marketing. Their conditions-finder answers a huge number of questions, from this reputable source of information, and by doing so, establishes their reputation as a facility youd want to use if and when you need medical attention. The one thing they dont do (and there may be legal or other reasons for not doing so) is collect email addresses to build a subscriber list, which would technically exclude this from being content marketing. But I stand by my assertion, as they are providing good content to a massive audience, and then collect subscribers in more focused areas, where its logical for audience to become customers.26


Its easy to find editorial opinions online, but where do you get facts? If your audience needs data to back up their decisions, you can become the go-to place for that.27

In my industry, everyone uses the graphic on this site and each year, we are sure to get the newest one that lays out the new landscape. When thinking of marketing technologies, this firm is definitely top-of-mind.28


Become known for your good works in a particular area. Just as Red Bull attached itself to extreme sports, and Dove made natural beauty its cause, find a niche that makes sense for your brand. But youre not selling. Youre providing a service that the audience can benefit from.29

In this case, Barclays bank started a Digital Eagles campaign that helps people learn to code. They have classes aimed at multiple age ranges, to help people become digitally literate. What is the benefit to a bank to run a program like this? If the future of banking is digital, then it makes sense to have a digitally-savvy customer base.30


Publishing is one of the most understood ways of content marketing. You can tell a story on a blog or in a magazine. Good journalism is an excellent way of gaining readership.31

American Airlines treats their Business Life magazine like a the journalism-worthy publication that it is. Business people can read the articles on the site, or they can get a subscription to the paper version. I dont know the loyalty to BA that this has built, but assume that their continuation of the program means that they are attracting the business travelling segment theyre looking for.32


If your company is in a good position to predict trends, then this is a valuable program when it is run as a program (not a one-off). 33

This agency gathers retail predictions from various industry experts and then provides them as a publication. Industry professionals who find this valuable can subscribe, and this is the very audience the agency wants to tap into.34

Bonus tip:GIVE.

I think the overall theme is that organisations have to give in order to get. When I want to test my assumptions about whether some material is content marketing or marketing content, I need a yes to these questions:Is the content something that the audience perceives as valuable?Has the organisation restrained themselves from marketing their products?Have they followed good journalistic principles (or is it just about their companys products)?Could this be perceived as an...


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