I don’t think I’ll get too many opinions to the contrary when I suggest that effective marketing is getting harder every day. Consumers seem to have developed an allergic reaction to anything that smacks of selling. Banner ads are essentially wallpaper with a dismal .1% conversion rate. Television ads have been all but eradicated by the DVR. Text ads are brand destroyers unless they’re pushed at point of sale while the discounted coffee is still piping hot. I could go on.
So what can you do to insert your brand into a welcome conversation? I would suggest that successful marketing today is all about building relevance and utility for your Brand. A social network is often the beginning of the conversation and should extend into the entire brand experience.
At IBM, we realized this and here’s what we did about it.
We built a real-time content desk. It’s a system that changes the way we build and disseminate branded content. There are essentially five stages—here’s how you can build one for yourself.
Monday – The Beat Box: Ask what’s happening in the world that’s relevant to your customers and find the hot conversations. Social listening tools can help to identify the latest topics. An agency like Sparks & Honey can help you tap into significant cultural trends. They run a daily report on relevant world events, consumer trends and general cultural shifts. Build themes that align to the identified areas of interest in the marketplace.
Tuesday – Editorial Sync: Figure out what content you want your audience to consume and how. This is best done by a seasoned PR expert working with your marketing team to provide guidance and direction. Examples might include the fact that election season is coming up and you want to show how your software can help to identify the right candidate, or it’s Valentine’s Day and you’re selling overpriced gifts for lovers.
Wednesday – The Angle: Brainstorm on what content will be produced. Our agency, Ogilvy & Mather, supports the desk with a creative team and content strategist to develop a mix of short, consumable content as well as longer-form content. A fact-filled SlideShare, a report that ties in to an upcoming holiday, a short video series—all great content candidates.
Thursday – The Deadline: Determine how you will deploy the content across branded properties. Lay out a strategy for how content will be amplified through paid, owned, and earned media. Adding technologies like retargeting can help to bring consumers down the funnel.
Friday – The Analytics: Perform a weekly assessment of winners and losers. What types of content are consumers engaging with and sharing? Understanding which content types and themes are successful is critical to increasing brand engagement.
The real-time content desk is helping us to become experts at creating content that resonates. The nirvana for this type of desk is “news jacking” in conversations, like pushing a SlideShare into a competitors’ conference stream or being the top tweet that goes viral during a popular world event.
As a consumer, I know that I hate being sold. As a marketer, I know I need to sell. In order to be heard by consumers today, Brands need to align with how people experience the world and find a meaningful, relevant way to make the right connection. A content engine is a great way of driving that engagement.