If you attended or watched any part of PR Newswire’s Content Meets Innovation panel discussions on November 12th, you know what success looks like. Lively and illuminating insights by key industry leaders and influencers discussed how to break through a crowded marketplace where the lines of traditional and new media marketing are blurred.
With such engaging moderators and panelists, I was made to feel a part of the discussion as opposed to just an observer. As a disclaimer, this post is not a taped transcription and includes further research by me on the participants.
Moderator Ken Wincko, Senior Vice President of Marketing at PR Newswire set the stage: We’re in a digital age with real-time information and short attention spans. Since the majority of B2B and B2C customer buying decisions start with the exploration of expert and social content, and follow a non-linear path, how can marketers engage, inspire and build trust with clients ever-changing needs?
Steve Rubel, Edelman EVP/Global Strategy and Insights, advocates for analyzing the total ecosystem to reach consumers at the right time by using distribution-thinking first followed by content-thinking. Learning the pathways consumers go to for information through social or search is critical. Today, digital marketing is the driving force with social platforms stimulating more incoming traffic. People are spending more time on platforms like Facebook, which overtook Google as a traffic source in 2015. Brands need to use channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to direct growing audiences to their content.
Dori Fern, MXM Digital Strategist proposed that where people go for information is different today. It’s important to understand what your buyers want so you can get them there and then ensure they stay. Being involved with the combination of the art, distribution and data can be constraining to content marketers who are used to telling you what they want to say. This is the intersection of what marketers want to sell and what consumers want. Using data is only a part of the story but we need to keep testing it. Data helps us listen to our customers, potential customers and other key audiences to determine what they care about and whose opinions they respect.
Fiorelli Salvo, Mashable’s Senior Communications Manager explains that consumers are savvier than ever. We can’t just create content and expect audiences to come to it. Consumers want value and meaning so we need to jump on these new platforms and offer authoritative, high-level strategy consumer experiences that offer seamless experiences with mobile always staying top-of-mind.
Steve Rubel points out that a lot of companies may not have the luxury of spending to create things that are high-interest. But high-interest doesn’t necessarily mean a large audience. It could be of high-interest to 100 people if that’s the people that you care about. In this case, what you need to ask yourself is, “What broader interest graph can I connect my brand to, credibly, that is going to allow me to play in a larger space than if I just stick to [stories] that are very product or company centric?” Too often brands think of their competition as other businesses. The reality is, we need to think about every minute a consumer is spending with another piece of content and “How are we going to steal that minute away….”
Moderator Michael Pranikoff, PR Newswire’s Global Director of Emerging Media, highlights the importance of organic search with B2B and B2C customers and speaks with panelists about where they see the future of marketing in the next six to12-months.
Paul Kotonis, Digiday’s Chief Marketing Officer explains that traditional marketing campaigns target consumers as large homogeneous groups, utilize “one shot” marketing blasts and can only measure group-wide results, not individual behavior. Building lasting customer relationships is like dating. You must discover common ground, be memorable, and know your next move and ultimate goal. Instead of playing the numbers game start playing to your strengths.
With today’s technologies, measurement is everything. It provides marketers with scope and precision so they can make campaigns more unique and relevant. Data management platforms can provide answers to help build your customer relationships. Through analysis and customization you can learn more about your customers. After all, you need to earn the right to ask for the business.
David Berkowitz, MRY Agency’s Chief Marketing Officer maintains merely telling a story is dated. I think big things are coming in the next three or four years, when companies will stop putting so much emphasis on traditional media buys and spending money on events and experiential marketing. People have these sudden realizations and they want to go and find out information. If you don’t cater to these micro-moments, then basically you are losing out on that timing.
Companies are going to have to get to the heart of it and figure out what they want their content to do. If you have this always-on conversation, it is going to be so much more purposeful and meaningful to the consumer and the brand. We always need to adapt. Like some people say, “Consumers change first, marketers second, and agencies will change last.” I would tell marketers to actually be close to their consumers because they are the ones who change first. Their mindset is what you want to know.
Then you have to ask, is the content useful, interesting, or entertaining? You can look at it strategically and on a scale of real-time versus latent. Are you trying to get something out there that captures the buzz in that moment or something more enduring? Companies are going to need to wait for people.
Ken Wincko corroborates, “You’re not going to get anywhere today if you don’t have a credible, unique story. Your content needs to provide value to the reader—be it fresh insight, entertainment or problem solving.” Always use a consistent, multifaceted approach and leverage all channels to build an ongoing story. Reinforce your brand message continuously from familiarity to trust to engagement with content that educates, inspires, advises or supports. Rethink your definition of news, to remain top-of-mind in an environment of ever-shorter attention spans and ever-faster circulation of information.
Michael Pranikoff explains that the brands that are going to be most successful in a networked world are those that create networked content. Content distribution is key and will be most discoverable when designed for mobile in the #ContentEvolution.