In Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”, he articulates that this is in an age of radical transparency. In this paradigm, authenticity isn’t a marketing tactic; it’s the only option. Successful brands thrive or fail based on their ability to clearly articulate their purpose with conviction and transparency. When these brands succeed, they gain support in the form of friends, consumers, followers, and employees.
This article builds on Sinek’s ideas and introduces how consumers have changed as well as the role that authentic content marketing plays in your brand’s marketing mix. Let’s begin with a definition of content marketing. Content marketing taps on compelling storytelling techniques to get the right information to your target audience’s eye level when they are evaluating the purchase of similar products or services.
As relevant content is always created with consumers in mind, let’s do a quick recap of today’s hyper-connected consumers. What are the traits that define these consumers?
- Spend lots of time online: According to an E&Y survey released in Feb 2017, Singapore’s consumers spend most of their waking hours on digital devices – 12hours 42 minutes a day on average. This trend is not unique to Singapore and seen in many other countries. This also means that mobile devices, apps, and social media networks are essentially baked into this DNA.
- Information overload: Although consumers are spending more time on the internet, they are seeking a higher quality and relevant experience. Google is continuing its efforts to become more rigorous to show relevant results and ads. In addition, according to a PageFair Adblock report, there were over 600 million devices running adblocking software globally in Dec 2016. Asia Pacific mobile adblocking usage surged in Asia-Pacific by 40% year-on-year in 2016.
- Personalisation: Consumer expectations for personally relevant experiences have gone up. So how exactly can brands customise their content? You may be familiar with these two key methodologies: (i) design content that meets the needs of your target personas and (ii) align content with consumer journey. In particular, your brand’s content should appeal to a compelling event is a deadline that causes urgency in a sales process, e.g. an insurance company may target milestones which require additional savings such as the birth of a child.
So how does content marketing come in?
After recapping how consumers consume information, let’s examine your brand’s options to reach out to consumers:
- One-to-one: These include sales representatives’ visits, conference/exhibition participation, offering samples and sales calls.
- Traditional ads: Broadly speaking, these include print, outdoor display, TV and radio ads.
- Digital ads: Popular options include Google ads (search engine ads), Facebook ads (social media ads) and YouTube ads (video ads). These ads typically offer brands an option to target consumers in certain demographic groups. In addition, your brand may tap to programmatic advertising which refers to the algorithmic purchase and sale of digital advertising space.
- Encouraging positive word of mouth: Encourage readers to experience your product through visiting a brand’s brick-and-mortar store or website. This is where content marketing can play a role to introduce how your product or service can solve an existing problem. In addition, some brands actively participate in online user forums and engage online influencers.
For any brand, the first three options are often expensive and time-consuming. However, it doesn’t mean that these channels are not worth doing. In particular, one-to-one interactions offer richer and more personalised interaction with your consumers. Therefore, the challenge is how to optimise content marketing in your marketing mix. For example, some brands seek to combine an influencer outreach programme, traditional PR and an initial shot of paid media to elevate content marketing to their target audience’s eye level and reach a “Share” network effect.
Authentic content marketing
Let’s think about Sinek’s point that “Successful brands thrive or fail based on their ability to clearly articulate their purpose with conviction and transparency”. So how does your brand succeed with authentic content marketing? In my opinion, there are three critical ingredients to get content marketing to your customers’ eye level: depth, context, and emotion.
- Depth: Depth is a combination of several elements. From my experience, I can boil it down to leveraging your consumer insights, interests, goals and pain points to create content that provides value, not just self-promotional noise. There is no secret, just getting more stakeholders involved rather than leaving it entirely to your PR department. Many hands make for higher quality content!
- Context: As you are running a business, your content marketing should address compelling events which I define as an event with a deadline that causes urgency in a sales process, e.g. buying mandatory car insurance after getting a car. It isn’t enough to address concerns or questions that customers are curious about.
You may use a free tool like Answer The Public. It looks at the auto-suggest results from Google and Bing, to display the most popular results in a one-page report. Please see example below with regard to weight loss. Next, you can proceed to shortlist the compelling events in this report for content marketing purposes.
- Emotion: Often, content marketing lacks emotion and authenticity. To address this issue, why not invite your users to co-create User Generated Content or UGC? However, this approach tends to work best when soliciting pictures and impromptu videos as consumers are less likely to devote the time to provide a quality review.
To share an example, Meitu is a well-known photo editing app which was recently introduced its product internationally. Meitu gets a surge of UGC whenever it introduces a new feature or during festive periods when consumers tap on its #Meitu Twitter handle. Photo montage below shows its new ArtBot feature and a Christmas-related backdrop in the photo on top left.
A UGC approach works for non-digital businesses too. Sentosa, a well-known attraction in Singapore, has an Instagram handle with over 700,000 posts (see screenshot below). This helps to fuels their social media channels and lends its content authenticity while saving significant content-creation time.
This article briefly describes the background behind today’s “age of radical transparency” as suggested by Sinek while articulating that depth, context, and emotion are the key ingredients to authentic content marketing.
Contributed by Jx Tan
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Jx is Principal Consultant at Momentum Content. Our team provides bilingual engaging content to all stages of your sales funnel (Attract, Activate , Convert, Promote and Retain) to Chinese and Asian markets. He is a MSc (Marketing & Consumer Insight) graduate from the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. See our portfolio @ https://portfolio.content.co/jxtan.
This article was last updated 4 December 2020