SIX SECRETS OF SMART CONTENT MARKETERS
By Michael Leis, Senior Vice President, Social Strategy, Digitas Health
Marketers who can navigate this shifting, fractured landscape are winning with content. We’re lucky to work with a number of brands successfully making this transition to a world in which investment must land in the stream where people are paying attention. There are a few key trends emerging among those who are finding success at greater scale and lower cost than the “traditional” methods so easily ignored by the people you need to make decisions in favor of your brand today.
1. It’s Different Than Advertising
Advertising is fundamentally a message spoken from the brand to an audience. Content is provided by a brand to help individuals express themselves to the people they connect with in their real lives.
2. Content Bridges Advertising and Retention
While advertising still matters to build awareness, content comes into play once awareness is achieved to help people make decisions that lead to the CRM stream. In the days before this era of content marketing, brands made the massive assumption that once someone was aware of a medication, they would be able to figure out all of the steps leading to a treatment plan inclusive of a medication, and then, a retention channel. Now, we can create assets that help people with every step. Content marketing bridges this gulf and makes it easier for people to achieve the goals shared with the brand.
3. It’s About People Within the Segments
Segments are fantastic for buying ad units, but they’re not especially great for creating the content to go within those units. For that, marketers need to design content with a clear picture of the specific person you are designing content for. For example, if you’re marketing a pediatric medication, “moms ages 34 to 44” is a great segment. However, is it a mom who sees herself as a protector of her children? Is it a mom who sees herself as an advocate for her children? Is it a mom who believes that she needs to connect other moms to helpful advice? Understanding these added dimensions brings focus and clarity in the creation of content that people will scale on behalf of the brand.
4. Design for Validating Existing Attitudes, Not in Changing Minds
Anyone who believes marketing alone changes a consumer’s mind is wasting money. Content marketing first must validate the current attitudes of people who are already highly motivated to take action. Creating content that makes people feel good about what they already know and provides a way to act on that feeling is what drives successful brands. Don’t waste a minute — or a dollar — trying to convince someone to change his or her existing attitudes or beliefs. There already are so many people who are ready to act; they merely need validation and understanding about what to do next.
5. Focus Messages on Specific Actions
What’s fantastic about content marketing is that you have many more opportunities to reach people with a particular message. When you do reach them, be clear about the specific action they should take now that they see the content. Is it clicking the share button once? Is it putting their doctor’s number in their phones? Is it taking their medication right now? If you think that “ask your doctor about… ” is an action, you’re partially right. Asking your doctor is the most challenging action, but usually the result of many specific actions that happen before. What’s the easiest first step? It might just be listening.
In “Tiny Habits,” B.J. Fogg gives the example where if you want to start making flossing a habit, the behavior to focus on is “floss one tooth.” If you want someone to start walking, the behavior might be, “After dinner, put on your sneakers.” Focusing on an action so small, a person can’t avoid it, is a great place to start thinking about content that unrolls a series of actions that form a chain.
6. Results Should Be Un-buyable
Effective content marketing means you are achieving un-buyable results. That’s not hyperbole; I mean it literally. Paid media is responsible for showing the content to the right people. Content designed correctly should be distributed by those people to their circles of influence and networks. That should result in many more measurable outcomes: engagements, sign-ups, impressions, etc.
One example is a post shared over 20 generations. The brand paid for the first generation of people to see the content — but then it’s up to those people to do the rest of the targeting and distribution — the audience those people can reach is the most valuable. There is no way paid media could find those people or position the content in a way they trust and spend their attention on. Only people can add that through earned distribution. Even if you could target those people, there is no way any brand could afford to purchase at that precision and scale.
OK, lucky number seven! Successful content marketing is about putting people’s needs for self-expression and knowing how to achieve a goal at the forefront of your strategic process. And it has many more benefits than just those above.
Hopefully, by sharing this article with just one other person — right now — you can help your content marketing reach a new level for both the people you serve and the brand for which you create the next stellar campaign.
Read more about how technology is changing the way healthcare connects with patients here.