Holmes Report 25 Jul 2014 // 4:13PM GMT
[quote]‘Pick up’ shouldn’t be the goal of your content marketing strategy — it should be enlightenment.[/quote] By Alexander Jutkowitz Content marketing—while it’s just about everywhere you look these days—is often misunderstood. Many brands approach the tactic of marketing via written articles, videos, and infographics with a vague understanding of what they hope to achieve. Worse, companies neglect to see the real value inherent in brand publishing. [caption id="attachment_2704" align="alignright" width="150"] Alexander Jutkowitz[/caption] A desire for press hits and ‘pick up’ is a request I hear often in my line of work. But ‘pick up’ shouldn’t be the goal of your content marketing strategy—it should be a natural effect of a comprehensive brand publishing strategy that focuses on one thing: enlightenment. The success of content marketing resides not in the ability of brands to create interesting articles and entertaining videos. Rather, brand publishing enables companies everywhere to truly mine their internal resources for new, exciting, and revolutionary knowledge. Content marketing might be a well-worn buzzword, but it’s fast becoming a conduit to making companies more dynamic, profound, and above all, transcendent. I believe we’re experiencing a historic moment in time for businesses everywhere—content is helping companies become influential thought leaders. Take a look around: the brands that are winning at publishing aren’t merely producing content—they’re contributing important and impactful ideas to society. Brands like Adobe, Intel, and Red Bull aren’t just crafting content about graphic design software or computer hardware. Adobe’s content has allowed the brand to transcend making products into being a visionary in the marketing and CMO space. Via great content, Intel has become a juggernaut of digital and technological discovery. And to many, Red Bell has become more synonymous with culturally energizing content than with the caffeinated drink it sells. These companies are making strides when it comes to leveraging the unique knowledge they have in-house. Today, content is effectively replacing white papers as a way to excavate, create and share knowledge not just with other businesses, but with consumers. The effect is profound. A company like Xerox is able to transform its image from a company that creates copiers to a thought leader in spaces like healthcare and infrastructure—a message it drives home every day on their micro site RealBusiness. More importantly, Xerox has extensive internal knowledge about these subjects and can contribute meaningful data to the public on innovations happening in highway construction and healthcare technology. Often times, I find that the brands that struggle with content the most are those that are unwilling to unveil the information they have at their disposal. For fear of giving away trade secrets, or revealing too much, brands can be too risk-averse in their content strategy; erring on the safe side of content production, with fluff pieces that do little to educate or entertain consumers. This approach isn’t ideal because it isn’t contributing vital information to the public dialogue. To create truly great content, companies need to give their audiences something worth reading about. Brands need to be publishing news-worthy content. Just consider the outlets poaching top-billed journalists in droves. From Tesla to GE, Andreesson Horowitz to Microsoft, big companies have sought out serious journalists to uncover the news-worthy stories lurking in their own institutions with fantastic results. They’ve built newsrooms and editorial credibility for delivering sponsored content that educates first-and-foremost. Another common misconception in content marketing is that brands should replicate content that’s worked for others. This will undoubtedly lead to lackluster return—and worse, potential embarrassment. Why copy another brand’s strategy, when each brand has its own unique lens and pool of information to fish from? In the 20th century, corporations and companies focused primarily on the bottom line and driving sales. Today, companies need to do more than make profit, they need to establish purpose and contribute meaning in order to stay relevant. With competition in every direction, the one true leg up brands have at present is to look within their organizations and find their expertise ‘sweet spot.’ Be a leader in your space, use your lens to swoon audiences, and educate your consumers on your brand’s vision. I encourage all brands to step out of the risk aversion that might have plagued companies in the past and to embrace your unique vantage point. Throw open the corporate archives, delve into your company’s history, and ask employees to share their stories. Find the news in your organization that’s worthy of headlines and documentaries, GIFs, tweets, features, and Vines. Go behind the scenes, interview your C-suite execs and profile your factory workers. Ask the big questions, deliberate on important ideas, and highlight essential breakthroughs. Don’t just work to make your company legendary—start documenting its story and revealing the tales that will make it a legend. Make your brand more than a good marketer; help your company and your consumers become enlightened. Alexander Jutkowitz is a vice chairman and the chief global strategist at Hill+Knowlton Strategies and managing partner for the agency’s content subsidiary, Group SJR.